It’s just a matter of time before it becomes commonplace to hear of people being arrested for the possession of 3D printed guns. They exist, and the designs to produce them can be found on the internet, in many locations, free of charge.
Just today, 27 year old Yoshitomo Imura, was arrested in the city of Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan for possession of 5 3D printed firearms. Two of these firearms had the ability to be loaded with live metal ammunition, and fired, thus making them lethal. Police also recovered a 3D printer from Imura’s home, which is believed to have been used to produce these weapons.
Police became suspicious, after they discovered that Imura had posted videos of himself firing this gun (Zig-Zag Revolver). An investigation pursued, culminating in his arrest yesterday. One of the posts made by Imura on the video website where his guns are shown being fired said, “The right person should survive even if weak. A gun makes power equal!”
He also eagerly encouraged people in the United States to 3D print this gun themselves. Although he did fire the gun, the video states specifically that blanks were used in place of live ammunition.
It is reported that Imura has admitted to using a 3D printer to print out the weapons, but he claimed ignorance, saying that he didn’t know that it was illegal to create these guns on a 3D printer. No ammunition was recovered in Imura’s home though.
“I can’t complain about the arrest if the police regard them as real guns,” Imura reportedly said after his arrest.
This is the first time that the Japanese Firearm and Sword control law has had to be applied to guns that were created on a 3D printer. The 3D printer used to make these guns cost Imura approximately ¥60,000 ($589/422€).
Just this past December, the United State Congress renewed a ban on guns that are made in materials other than metal. This includes 3D printed guns, which are mostly made with different types of plastics. In Japan, gun laws are even more strict, with most people never even coming in contact with them.
The 3D printing of guns will continue to be a growing problem, with the increasing popularity of 3D printing. Guns that are made from plastic can be even more dangerous than metal ones. Plastic guns are known to misfire, backfire, and cause injuries to their shooters. They are also able to more easily slip through checkpoints, and metal detectors. Governments around the world will soon be faced with difficult decisions on how to enforce laws that restrict the 3D printing of such weapons. This surely isn’t the last story of its kind that we will be hearing about.
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