First arrest in Japan for possessing guns made using 3-D printer

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 11:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 11:02pm


A Japanese man suspected of possessing guns made with a 3-D printer has been arrested, reports said yesterday, in what was said to be the country's first such detention.

Officers who raided the home of Yoshitomo Imura, a 27-year-old college employee, confiscated five weapons, two of which had the potential to fire lethal bullets, broadcaster NHK said.

They also recovered a 3-D printer from the home in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, but did not find ammunition, Jiji Press reported.

It is the first time Japan's firearm control law has been applied to the possession of guns produced by 3-D printers.

The police investigation began after the suspect allegedly posted video footage on the internet showing him shooting the guns, the Mainichi Shimbun said on its website.

Officers suspect that he downloaded blueprints for making the guns with 3-D printers from websites hosted overseas.

The newspaper said the suspect largely admitted the allegations, saying: "It is true that I made them, but I did not think it was illegal."

The rapid development of 3-D printing technology, which allows relatively cheap machines to construct complex physical objects by building up layers of polymer, has proved a challenge for legislators around the world. Weapons assembled from parts produced by the printers are not detectable with regular security equipment.

Japanese police are armed but Japan has very strict firearms control laws. Few people possess guns or come into contact with them.