Japanese police raided the home of 27-year-old Yoshitomo Imura as he was suspected of possessing firearms made with a 3-D printer, what is said to be the first arrest of this nature in Japan. Imura, a college employee, was found in possession of five 3-D printed guns, two of which were reportedly able to fire lethal bullets, this according to a report by the national broadcaster NHK.
The police said that they recovered a 3-D printer from Imura’s home in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, but they did not find any ammunition for the guns. This is the first time Japan’s firearm control law has been applied to someone possessing guns produced by a 3-D printer. The police investigation was apparently triggered when Imura allegedly posted video footage on the Internet showing him shooting the guns. The police suspect that Imura downloaded blueprints for making the guns with 3-D printers, which abound over the Internet and are easily downloadable. Imura admitted to creating the guns, but said that he wasn’t aware of the illegality of it. “It is true that I made them, but I did not think it was illegal,” Imura said.
3-D printing technology is on the rise, and it allows for almost anyone with a printer to construct complex physical objects by building them with polymer layers. This technology, as with the advent of the Internet and online piracy, is now proving a challenge for lawmakers around the world. 3-D printed weapons create a very real danger for security personnel all over the world, as weapons assembled with polymer parts are not detectable with security equipment, especially those in airports. Japan has very strict laws on owning firearms, and while Japanese police are armed, very few people possess guns.