updated 09:20 pm EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Strict gun laws in Japan lead to first 3D printed firearm arrest after video postings
A 27-year-old man was arrested in Japan, stemming from ownership of five firearms he created with a 3D printer, two of which were said to be functional and lethal, according to broadcaster NHK. Yoshitomo Imura, an employee of the Shonan Institute of Technology in Fujisawa in Kawasaki Prefecture, was arrested on illegal weapons possession after posting videos online showing him operating the firearms.
The investigation stemmed from the videos Imura posted to YouTube in which he talked about the manufacture of the firearms, in addition to showing them in operation. Police raided Imura's home in Kawasaki last month, seizing the firearms without finding any ammunition on the premises, according to the Japan Times. Authorities believe that Imura obtained the blueprints from foreign websites. After his arrest, Imura was quoted as saying "I can't complain about the [charge] if the police regard them as real guns."
Imura confirmed to authorities that he had printed the guns with a 3D printer he had purchased off of the Internet for around $600. "I produced the guns, but I didn't think it was illegal." He has also been reported as making comments regarding the creation of the firearms and fundamental gun ownership over Twitter.
Japan's firearm laws are much more strict than those of the United States. Statistics from the National Police Agency list only 153 general firearm-related incidents within the country in 2013. Guns were only involved in 17 homicides, 15 of which used specifically handguns. The United States Library of Congress lists the penalty for illegal gun possession in Japan as starting at one year in prison, and grows up to 15 years based on the number of firearms owned, and the carry or transportation of bullets.