Daring AM: YouTube Tightens Rules on 3D Printed Guns Amid Rising Criminal Use

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3D printed firearms are increasingly showing up in criminal activities, posing potential challenges for law enforcement agencies worldwide. has been closely monitoring the number of arrests involving these weapons. In the ongoing investigation into illicit firearms, the growing number of arrests related to 3D printed guns continues to rise annually. Last year, we reported that such arrests had doubled since 2022, before tripling in less than two years. This year, the presence of 3D printed guns in arrest statistics continues to grow.

As technology evolves, so does the creativity of those looking to bypass traditional methods to procure weapons. This trend points to a growing issue. Last week alone, two incidents in North America highlighted the proliferation of 3D printed guns, while YouTube announced new restrictions to curb related content.

Homemade firearm found in seizure in Montreal. Image courtesy of the RCMP.

3D Printed Gun Maker Arrested

In Montreal, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested 37-year-old Pascal Tribout for 3D printing firearms and making hateful comments against the Jewish community in a public forum on the social network Telegram, contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada, which considers both of these serious offenses with significant penalties. Weapons trafficking alone can result in a maximum of ten years in prison, while inciting hatred against any identifiable group can lead to up to two in prison.

Tribout has also been accused of allegedly possessing and sharing computer data that could be used to manufacture firearms with a 3D printer, which is also illegal. The RCMP’s Federal Policing Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) conducted the investigation, which led to the seizure of numerous 3D printers and a homemade firearm.

Following news of the arrest, the RCMP reminded residents that threats to public security would not be tolerated and urged them to report any suspicious activities. This case shows how 3D printed firearms are becoming increasingly intertwined in criminal investigations, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

3D printers found in seizure in Montreal criminal case. Image courtesy of the RCMP.

Chase Leads to 3D Printed Gun Seizure

In Oxnard, California, a police chase involving the department’s gang-related crime unit led to the arrest of two 19-year-old men and the seizure of a 3D printed handgun. The incident began when officers attempted to pull over a vehicle for a traffic violation, but the driver allegedly refused to stop, resulting in a brief pursuit. During the chase, the man in the passenger seat reportedly tossed a loaded 3D printed firearm from the vehicle. The chase ended shortly after that, and both men were taken into custody and face multiple charges.

A 3D printed handgun, along with bullets, was seized. Image courtesy of Oxnard Police Department.

YouTube Tightens Firearms Policy

As part of its ongoing effort to regulate firearm-related content, YouTube has announced new policy updates effective June 18, 2024. The platform will now prohibit content that provides instructions on making or modifying 3D printed guns. Additionally, videos showing the use of 3D printed guns will be restricted to viewers over 18.

YouTube wants to limit the exposure of this type of material to younger audiences while maintaining a zero-tolerance stance on content that violates these guidelines. Content creators are advised to adhere strictly to these new rules to avoid penalties, including potential termination of their channels for repeated violations.

This move is in response to concerns from organizations like the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) and Everytown for Gun Safety, which found that YouTube’s algorithm had been recommending gun-related content to minors. Their research demonstrated that children and teens were being exposed to videos about firearms, including school shootings and how to convert semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic ones. This led to significant calls for YouTube to enforce stricter guidelines and protect younger viewers from such content.

While these measures are a step forward, their effectiveness will mainly depend on how strictly YouTube enforces them. The platform uses both machine learning and human moderators to apply its rules. However, the massive amount of content uploaded makes this a tough job. The platform reports a low “violative view rate” of about 0.1% to 0.11%, meaning that out of every 10,000 views, only 10 to 11 are from videos that break their rules.

Despite this, dangerous content still being recommended to minors shows that there is still room for improvement in enforcing these policies. Both TTP and Everytown stress the importance of active and constant enforcement to make sure these rules lead to real-world safety improvements.

3D printed gun arrests. Image courtesy of,

Law enforcement agencies consider the increase in 3D printed firearms in criminal activities a growing problem. Although 3D printed guns are not as commonly used by criminals as regular guns, these cases show how easily people can make and distribute homemade firearms, bypassing traditional regulations. As 3D printing technology advances, law enforcement has expressed that they need to keep updating their strategies and tools to fight the illegal use of these weapons. Although 3D printed guns are not as commonly used by criminals as regular guns, police insist that staying vigilant and adaptable is crucial to dealing with evolving criminal tactics.

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