A 27-year-old Japanese man was arrested on suspicion of illegal possession of handguns that were made with a three-dimensional printer, the first such case in a country with a low rate of gun violence.
Police identified the suspect as Yoshitomo Imura, an employee of the Shonan Institute of Technology in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Imura was first seen brandishing a toylike gun on an online video posted earlier this year in which he showed blueprints for the weapons and fired off a 3D printed pistol.
Police last month seized five 3D printed guns along with the blueprints, which were downloaded from the Internet, and a 3D printer.
Two of the 3D printed guns are capable of firing real bullets and could pierce through ten pieces of plywood, NHK reported, and could possibly injure or kill people. Authorites did not find any bullets in his possession.
Imura had often expressed online his opinion about owning guns and spoke about making them from a 3D printer.
“The right to bear firearms is a basic human right,” he said in one of his online comments.
He told police he bought the 3D printer for around 60,000 yen on the Internet and downloaded the blueprints from foreign websites. He said he didn’t think it was illegal to do so.
“I made the guns by the 3D printer at home. I did not think it was illegal,” the suspect told investigators during the search.
“I can’t complain about the arrest if the police regard them as real guns,” he said.
Jiji news agency reported the suspect also possessed 10 toy guns along with the 3D printed guns.
Producing firearms using 3D printers is expected to cut manufacturing costs, and with blueprints easily accessible on the Internet, it will be easier to own a potentially deadly weapon. 3D printed guns are made of resin and are harder to be spotted by metal detectors.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: “3D Printed Gun” by Pete Prodoehl/Flickr