Here we go again! Just when you thought it was safe to visit 3DPI without seeing another story about 3D printed guns, someone turns up in the news with a whole boatload of them. 27-year-old Yoshitomo Imura had been featured on our site once before for a video he posted to YouTube demonstrating his 3D printed zig zag revolver. Strangely enough, it was that video that raised police suspicion that Imura possessed illegal firearms.
ANN News reports that Imura downloaded the gun files from a foreign site and printed them with a 3D printer. After seeing Imura’s video, authorities went to his Kawasaki City home and seized five different 3D printed guns, including the infamous Liberator Pistol. Though no bullets have been found, the police have said that it was possible for two of the guns to pierce over ten pieces of plywood, suggesting that they could be used to kill.
He made the guns with a 3D printer purchased from the Internet for about ¥60,000 (roughly $590), much cheaper than the $20K Stratasys machine that Cody Wilson used to create Defense Distributed’s 3D printed guns. Japanese news suggests that the guns were made with resin, but ANN’s video shows a RepRap 3D printer and the guns themselves look as though they were created through the FDM/FFF process. Not only is this, then, the first such arrest in Japan, but, if he did use a $600 RepRap, it is an early indication that functional firearms can be created with affordable desktop 3D printers.
Upon his arrest, Imura said, “I made them myself, but, I didn’t know they were illegal.” He added, “I can’t complain about the arrest if the police regard them as real guns.” For further insight into his actions, however, one might refer to a comment he made on one of his postings: “The right to bear firearms is a basic human right.”
Gun laws in Japan are relatively strict, compared to the United States. Though not entirely illegal, there are a long series of background checks that one must go through to obtain even a hunting rifle. According to the National Police Agency of Japan, these laws have resulted in only 15 gun deaths in the country in 2012, compared to a staggering 11,078 in the US in 2010, according to the Center for Disease Control. (The population of Japan was about 127.6 million in 2012 compared to the USA’s 313.9 million in 2012).
As is the case when 3D-printed gun stories pop up in the news, we’ll likely hear from lawmakers in the US, and possibly around the world, about restricting the creation of 3D printed guns, for fear that they will bypass metal detectors in airports and other public venues. In the United States, there is at least one law banning 3D printed guns in Philadelphia, however, an effort to ban them nationally was curtailed. We’ll see what new hype this latest story brings about.
If you’re interested in seeing the original video for Imura’s 3D printed zig zag revolver, you’ll be disappointed to know that it was taken down from YouTube. Fortunately, 3DPI.tv managed to get the footage into the following segment.