“Every craftsman wants their work to be acknowledged,” Sicen Sun told NSW District Court today, in response to questions about why he posted 3D printed replica guns he had printed at home for sale on Facebook.
Sun, an accounts manager at an advertising agency, faced sentencing in Sydney this morning for six offences relating to possessing an unauthorised firearm, manufacturing a pistol without a license and advertising a firearm for sale.
Known as Steven, the 28-year-old is the first person in Australia to face sentencing for the possession of a “digital blueprint” of a 3D printed firearm. The law was introduced in New South Wales in 2015 and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years' jail.
“With 2020 hindsight I realise how silly, idiotic, stupid and naïve my actions were,” Sun told the Downing Centre court.
Sun was arrested in March last year after detectives searched his home in Waverley following a tip-off.
He manufactured a number of weapons at the unit, including a ‘MA5C’ from computer game Halo which “does not replicate any real firearm in existence,” Sun said today, and a P90 submachine gun which is used by US law enforcement as well characters in sci-fi franchise Stargate.
Sun – who had already pleaded guilty to the charges – discovered the CAD files needed to print the firearms on website MyMiniFactory “right beside files for doorstops and keyrings” he told the court.
“When I searched for the MA5C I was served with additional files which I viewed and thought were cool so downloaded,” he added.
His hobby for making “screen accurate” weapons to use in cosplay grew and eventually he offered a gun for sale on a private Facebook group for $1 million negotiable.
The unrealistic price tag showed he didn’t intend to actually sell the item, Sun said, but merely wanted recognition.
Bigger is badder
Under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Stephen Mikan, as to whether he was aware of the laws he was breaking, Sun admitted “it did cross my mind”.
“I didn’t in my mind perceive these to be real pistols. These were never supposed to be any more than costume props,” Sun said.
Sun said he had thought about whether the P90 gun – modelled from a toy he had bought at pop culture event Comic-Con in Sydney – would need a permit.
“It was just big,” he said, “in everyone’s mind bigger is badder”.
However, Sun said he wasn’t certain about the legislation in different states, nor of the severity of the penalties.
Sun’s barrister said there was never any suggestion the weapons were intended to be “anything but replicas” nor was there “any intent to make them into functional weapons”.
Judge Penelope Wass told the court that she wasn’t aware of “how easy or hard it is” to print 3D weapons, and requested an example of a printed gun be shown to her at a later date “just for my own curiosity”.
She adjourned sentencing to the end of August.
Sun’s barrister said that the “court shouldn’t make a strawman of Mr Sun to send a shiver down the spine of outlaw motorcycle gangs”.
Since his last court appearance in April last year, Sun said he had distributed pamphlets highlighting the NSW firearms legislation at Comic-Con and Supanova, at four Sydney 3D printer stores and at Waverley and Rose Bay police stations.
He had also designed digital ads and a website takeover, which would run once funding was secured, “just to create awareness,” Sun said.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through the last 18 months,” he said.