Netherlands-capgun-Liberator-tjeThe Dutchman behind this project, Dave Borghuis, wants us to know he’s not a wacko bird like those “scary and crazy” US-ians.

I am not a gun nut, i find it scary things and crazy how the USA handle the gun laws.

Check your own local laws BEFORE printing any part of the Liberator-tje.

Just to make it clear that he’s an enlightened European from a nation that stood against the Nazi menace for over half a week (four days from invasion to capitulation in May 1940, followed instantly by more collaboration than resistance), he makes it clear that his Liberator is an enlightened, European, non-combatant Liberator.

In the Netherlands any gun is strictly forbidden unless you have a licence. To prevent any problems with dutch law I (zeno4ever/Dave Borghuis) modified the files so its impossible to shoot any bullet with the printed gun. I checked this with someone that has some insight in Dutch law regarding gun laws and the modifications I made should make it legal to print the gun in Netherlands. Be sure to check your own local laws if you want to print this Liberator-tje.

via Liberator-tje – TkkrLab.

Netherlands-capgun-Liberator-on-printerIn fact, his version is a cap gun. (That’s what the little ring in the top photo is — toy-gun caps, Euro style). But we’re probably being too hard on Dave. As he says elsewhere, he’s not interested in guns, he’s interested in printing 3D objects, and so he should be welcomed as another part and branch of the revolution. He did, indeed, print a locally adapted Liberator, even if it is a gelding, and he promises to make his revised (spayed and neutered) files available to the public, probably on his blog given the fact that the State Department has sent its Panzers to occupy DefCad for the time being. (Interesting if nonpertinent factoid: SecState John F. Kerry is, like the last Panzer-emitter, of Austrian descent).

After all, the Dutch may not have materially slowed the entire German war machine down, but one individual Dutchman fired a shot that took German paratroop general Kurt Student off the board for some very critical months of the war. A small nation in a tough continent has to live within the bounds of possibility.

Dave is also the first one we know of to have printed the Liberator on his particular machine, the common (well, to the extent any 3DP is common) RepRap Prusa i3. True, his is a cap gun, but it’s — you’ve been hearing these words from us a lot — a proof of concept.

Dave also made (we think; please correct us if we’re mistaken) this excellent animation of Liberator assembly. So we’re grateful for that, even if he thinks we’re “roondweg idioot” over here, which you can probably figure out even if you can’t grok Nederlands.

We’re also grateful to Dave for pointing us to this classically hand-wringing article by Cory Doctorow in the Grauniad. Doctorow argues that because Guns are Bad we need to find a way to ban 3D printing of them without, you know, banning 3D printing. It’s typical Doctorow, a tech lover losing out to his inner fascist, and as good an explanation as any as to why we haven’t been back to his site in about four years.

In the home-manufacture revolution, it’s From Each According to his Ability, and To Each According   to his Liberties.

This entry was posted in Foreign and Enemy Weapons, Future Weapons, Industry, Weapons Education, Weapons Technology on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

6 thoughts on “Liberator-tje – Neutered Netherlands Liberator


Interestingly, I twittered Cory Doctorow’s article a while ago and perceived it differently. His main point is:

“I’m worried that the fact that we’re talking about guns here will cloud judges’ minds. Bad cases made bad law, and it’s hard to think of a more emotionally overheated subject area. So while I’d love to see a court evaluate whether the internet should be treated as a library in law, I’m worried that when it comes to guns, the judge may find himself framing the question in terms of whether a gun foundry should be treated as a library.”

And that is a good point. He even gives the example of using and breaking cryptography to illustrate the issue: It worked when presented as issue about scientists talking about math, but not when it was hackers talking about ripping DVDs. Technically that is the same issue.

Doctorow’s personal position on guns is not really clear to me. He even had some printed AKs in his seminal piece about the maker culture “Makers” without judging them, iirc (except for them being used to shoots innocents).

Hognose Post author

And see, I read that as he would be OK with the judge’s decision to impose some kind of judicial gun-printing ban, if it did not spill over to any other use of the technology. But the article doesn’t exactly say that, does it? I do think Doctorow knows (in his head, if not his heart) that this kind of liberty is essentially indivisible. He seems to be saying, we shouldn’t rock the boat because then the lifeboat captain might order him overboard along with us. Cody Wilson is more, the devil take the captain, it’s our boat. I think Doctorow at once finds Wilson’s position intellectually appealing but frightening in its potential consequences.

Doctorow’s a bit like the approach Adam Czerniaków took to a government unmindful of liberties. Give them all cooperation, don’t rock the boat. No one defends Czerniaków today, but if you’re honest, you have to recognize he was trying by his own lights to make the best of an impossible situation, and his actions were perfectly rational or reasonable. But of course we’re not playing for the stakes poor Czerniaków was. Yet.


Personally, I believe this liberty to be indivisible, too. It’s not pick-and-choose. And from an engineering standpoint, the whole issue does not exist at all – I’ve seen CAD files for gun parts shared in newsgroups as early as 1998, years before DefDist or 3D printers, so anything happening now is just another form of security theater.

But thanks for reminding me of Czerniaków. I’d forgotten that name. That reminded me of Rumkowski, of course. Which may lead to a long discussion of standing up for your principles vs. picking your fights. But what ever Doctorow’s agenda may be, there should be no doubt that we would be better served if the legal debate about the freedom to print was not anchored to something as controversial as guns.

Hognose Post author

Yes, poor Rumkowski. The perfect illustration of the balance of appeasement: the tiger did indeed eat him last. You reminding me of his name made me look for his “Give me the Children” speech, which is so perfectly horrifying that I wonder about its authenticity sometimes. I could not find the whole text anywhere, but this is the longest excerpt I found:

It’s fashionable to depict Czerniaków and Rumkowski as collaborators and traitors, as fools or knaves. But they were just men, doing their best in an impossible situation. Some of the Lodz survivors credit Rumkowski with their survival — they went to the camp late enough to survive to liberation. Others survived different ways. The Soviets found hundreds still hiding in the Ghetto, which the Germans had declared Judenrein.

It is easy to be a man of principle in the internet, or in a café on the rive gauche.


In France, we airdropped thousands of Liberator pistols, so les maquis could simply walk up, shoot Fritz in the face, and borrow his K-98 or MP-40.

It was minimally effective, apparently because we goofed in dropping the weapons on, well, France.

The Dutch had a much simpler method. Throw up your hands, throw open you doors, break out the wine, cheese, and chocolates, and start rounding up your neighbors, and Fritz will give you your very own K-98 or MP-40. Of course, there always follows that train ride to Stalingrad. Best laid plans and all.

Why we didn’t instead simply subsidize and arm the Swiss and encourage them to conquer and colonize the entire continent from Denmark to Sicily, and still haven’t done so yet, is absolutely beyond me.


The Swiss didn’t need or want any subsidies that would have made them do anything. They already had all the money.