Japan is putting its strict firearms-control laws up against the latest in digital manufacturing with the arrest of a man who allegedly made 3D-printed guns.
Yoshitomo Imura, 27, was collared Thursday on a charge of illegal weapons possession in Japan’s first such case involving 3D-printed firearms, according to media reports.
A raid last month on his home in Kawasaki outside Tokyo turned up five printed guns, two of which can fire real bullets. However, no bullets were recovered.
Imura, an employee of Shonan Institute of Technology in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, had apparently posted footage of the guns as well as production blueprints online, and mentioned production on Twitter.
Japanese news media posted clips from a grainy YouTube video that apparently shows Imura firing one of the guns in a wooded area.
The guns could apparently fire through more than 10 plywood boards stacked together.
Kyodo News quoted investigators as saying that Imura didn’t think the guns were illegal, and that he is believed to have downloaded the blueprints from overseas websites.
A spokesman for the Kanagawa Prefectural Police was not immediately available for comment on the case.
Japan has very strict controls on firearms compared to other countries. Only 15 people were murdered with handguns in 2012, according to data from the National Police Agency.
Imura’s arrest comes a year after Cody Wilson demonstrated what’s regarded as the world’s first working 3D-printed gun in the U.S.
Wilson later said that design files for the gun were downloaded more than 100,000 times before the U.S. State Department told him to take them down.
It’s unclear where Imura obtained the design files he used, but his guns, including one that looks like a revolver, appear to be different from Wilson’s weapon, dubbed The Liberator.