In Japan, getting your hands on a gun is almost impossible, so the natural thing to do if you want a firearm is to make one. Or more appropriately, print one. Just don’t upload a video of yourself on Youtube doing target practice with that gun. In Japan, except for police officers and members of the military, it is a crime to possess a firearm, another crime to fire it, and another crime to have a gun and a bullet together at the same time. If you insist on being locked and loaded, be prepared to be locked up for a very long time.
A Shonan Institute of Technology employee Yoshitomo Imura was arrested earlier this month for making a homemade handgun using a 3D printer. Police were aware of Imura’s activities early on. Imura had uploaded a video of himself shooting his homemade gun on the Internet, and even published detailed blueprints of the weapon online. The gun was allegedly capable of firing lethal rounds making it a full fledged weapon—not just a brightly colored toy.
On Twitter, Imura reportedly stated what is common to hear at an NRA (National Rifle Association) rally in the United States: “It’s a basic human right to bear a gun. I will confront the movement to regulate guns.”
The Kanagawa Prefectural Police, who were aware of Imura’s activities after seeing the online video, arrested Imura on violations of the Swords and Firearms Control Law. The case is a first and serves as a warning for those who think that they can exploit any loopholes in the law by using printed guns. Or at least remind gun law violators that they shouldn’t show their NRA colors online for everyone to see.
Police in Japan take gun laws so seriously that they’ll even pursue a violator to the grave. One police officer who committed suicide using a firearm was charged posthumously.
Jake Adelstein contributed to this article.