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Man arrested in Japan for carrying 3D-printed gun

Just because he printed a gun at home doesn’t make it legal.  


Kate Knibbs


Posted on May 8, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 8:28 am CDT

Japan has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the world—and now we know that includes DIY firearms.

A 27-year-old man named Yoshitomo Imura was taken into custody Thursday on charges of illegal weapons possession. The weapon? A 3D-printed pistol.

According to Reuters, this is the first charge in Japan involving 3D-printed guns.

Police found five plastic guns, along with a 3D printer, inside Imura’s home in Kawasaki, Japan. Public broadcaster NKH reported that two of the guns were capable of firing and killing people, although no bullets were found at the scene. Imura is thought to have downloaded the design from the Internet, and blueprints for the manufacture of guns were found at his home.

Imura posted about the project on social media, including Twitter and Google+.

Japan isn’t the only place 3D-printed guns are illegal. In 2013, Philadelphia became the first U.S. city to ban the plastic firearms, and other cities followed suit. There is no federal law banning the homemade devices across the U.S. yet, though.

The DIY weapons are especially difficult to police when they aren’t assembled. In Manchester, England, law enforcement officials attempted to raid a home with 3D-printed guns, but were unable to immediately confirm the parts they discovered were intended to make a weapon.

The first 3D-printed gun fired by hand was created by crypto-anarchist activist Cody Wilson and his non-profit, Defense Distributed. The non-profit (which also created Dark Wallet, for Bitcoin) is still in conflict with the State Department over whether organizations need special permission before releasing 3D weapon blueprints into public domain. It’s not clear where Imura got his blueprint.

H/T Reuters | Photo via Flickr/ Dennis van Zuijlekom (CC BY-SA 2.0) 

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*First Published: May 8, 2014, 5:33 pm CDT