Man arrested for 3D printing handguns in Japan

Yoshimoto Imura, a 27-year-old Japanese college employee, was arrested this week for possession of five 3D-printed handguns, two of them capable of firing lethal ammunition. Police did not find any live ammunition at his residence. 

Police launched an investigation after they discovered videos posted by Imura showing off the handguns. Imura admitted to using a 3D printer to make the guns, but did not know that it was illegal to do so.

The Japanese government has strict policies regarding owning a firearm. Japan's Firearms Act of 1978 forbids ownership of a firearm with very few exceptions. Japanese citizens are permitted to carry rifles or shotguns only if they possess a hunting license. The licensing procedure is strict with it being a lengthy process to ensure safety within the country.

The creation of 3D-printed weapons has become a growing concern. Last year, Defense Distributed created 16 different design elements that, when combined, formed a functional gun. Japanese police say that this the first time that they have seized guns that were created using a 3D printer.

Source: BBC via NHK Japan | 3D gun image via Shutterstock

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People have been making guns for years as a hobby.

The trouble now is someone 'bad' can purchase a 3D printer, load a file, and press 'print'. No skills needed (ie. machining).

3D printing is on the verge of making all gun laws useless. The democratization of firearms, and even more advanced weapons technology is here today. The very best a government can do is to pass laws that give the illusion of them doing something.

link6155 said,
3D printer will allow us to pirate real life objects :p

The terms you are looking for is bootleg :)

You still have to buy the printing materials for the 3D Printer to print :p

I think this is what people are concerned about. The corporations don't want you being self sufficient, they want you to have to come to them. If you can manufacture your own stuff, then what need do we have to go to Wal-Mart and spend billions of dollars a year on cheap, plastic crap?

Gerowen said,
I think this is what people are concerned about. The corporations don't want you being self sufficient, they want you to have to come to them. If you can manufacture your own stuff, then what need do we have to go to Wal-Mart and spend billions of dollars a year on cheap, plastic crap?

The stuff you print isn't going to be any better than that cheap plastic without spending more on materials yourself and if you can afford to do that chances are you weren't buying your stuff from Walmart anyway.

Osiris said,

The stuff you print isn't going to be any better than that cheap plastic without spending more on materials yourself and if you can afford to do that chances are you weren't buying your stuff from Walmart anyway.

Not necessarily so: you are restoring an old Mustang and you need one of the brake lights; you could either try to find one, if available, on the internet..... or just make it with a 3D printer and save a lot of cash.

3-D printing is certainly one of those revolutionary technologies that will force us to rethink how many aspects of our society will function. The capability for someone to have a manufacturing plant directly on their desk will certainly cause problems along the road, not just in terms of people's ability to print off weapons.

3-D printing will certainly shake up the manufacturing industry to the point of irrelevancy in most areas. Many household items could easily just be printed off, rather than going to a retail store to buy them. Things like cups, coasters, washers, door handles, plugs, pencil holders and various other knickknack like products will no longer survive in the marketplace, and the factories that produce such things will most certainly shut down and go out of business.

Another aspect that 3-D printing brings to the table is the idea of piracy coming to the physical world. It was often joked within the pirate community on whether you would download a car, but with this technology on people's desks, it starts to become a reality, rather than just a joke to point out the ridiculousness of antipiracy messages.

Ad Man Gamer said,
3-D printing is certainly one of those revolutionary technologies that will force us to rethink how many aspects of our society will function. The capability for someone to have a manufacturing plant directly on their desk will certainly cause problems along the road, not just in terms of people's ability to print off weapons.

3-D printing will certainly shake up the manufacturing industry to the point of irrelevancy in most areas. Many household items could easily just be printed off, rather than going to a retail store to buy them. Things like cups, coasters, washers, door handles, plugs, pencil holders and various other knickknack like products will no longer survive in the marketplace, and the factories that produce such things will most certainly shut down and go out of business.

Another aspect that 3-D printing brings to the table is the idea of piracy coming to the physical world. It was often joked within the pirate community on whether you would download a car, but with this technology on people's desks, it starts to become a reality, rather than just a joke to point out the ridiculousness of antipiracy messages.

I want to print a working 3D printer. hat'll pee them off.

It was bound to happen and will only happen more often as time goes on. He worked at a college so I'm assuming he wasn't an idiot.....but as the article stated, Japanese law is very strict when it comes to firearms. You would think he would have done at least a little research before deciding to make his own.

Wow they need to get this under control and fast. This is just serious trouble waiting to happen in the future.

Biglo said,
Wow they need to get this under control and fast. This is just serious trouble waiting to happen in the future.

By doing what, exactly?

Dot Matrix said,
By doing what, exactly?

Scanners have safeguards in place to prevent people scanning money, so I don't see why something similar couldn't work for 3D printers and firearms. One way would be for 3D printers to be required to connect online.

The last thing anyone wants is for guns to become as freely available as they are in the US.

theyarecomingforyou said,

Scanners have safeguards in place to prevent people scanning money, so I don't see why something similar couldn't work for 3D printers and firearms. One way would be for 3D printers to be required to connect online.

The last thing anyone wants is for guns to become as freely available as they are in the US.

Nothing wrong with guns in the US, nor the vast majority of people who use them. Its the nut jobs that are the problem imo. But these guns may be different... I dont know if I would trust shooting a round from a plastic, 3D printer hand gun...

I also dont want scanner/printer police either ;)...

"I also dont want scanner/printer police either"

Yeah we don't need a requirement of an internet connection just so big brother can analyze and approve things before I'm allowed to scan them.

There's several safeguards in place.

1: scanners/copiers will recognize most money and not scan. home scanners won't do this
2: copiers will recognize the patterns no not print.
3: All printers and copiers print a yellow dot invisible serial numbers on everything they print which can be used to ID the printer and person printing.

HawkMan said,
There's several safeguards in place.

1: scanners/copiers will recognize most money and not scan. home scanners won't do this
2: copiers will recognize the patterns no not print.

Maybe with new printers. Get a printer or scanner from a couple years ago and you'd have no problem.

Scabrat said,
Nothing wrong with guns in the US, nor the vast majority of people who use them. Its the nut jobs that are the problem imo. But these guns may be different... I dont know if I would trust shooting a round from a plastic, 3D printer hand gun... .

The point is that most countries have substantial restrictions on firearms, with dramatically lower firearms fatality rates (and overall murder rates) to show for it - Japan being one of those countries. The US firearms fatality rate is over 41x higher than that of the UK and 171x higher than that of Japan.

3D printing has the potential to undo a lot of the progress that has been made in reducing the firearms fatality rate and could facilitate crime. Even the US has some restrictions on guns, which 3D printing will be able to get around.

Nashy said,

I just scanned a $5 note. Clearly mine doesn't care what I can. Not like I can print it, the A4 white paper is a dead give away!

Print it way bigger than normal so its worth even more! =D

theyarecomingforyou said,

The point is that most countries have substantial restrictions on firearms, with dramatically lower firearms fatality rates (and overall murder rates) to show for it - Japan being one of those countries. The US firearms fatality rate is over 41x higher than that of the UK and 171x higher than that of Japan.

3D printing has the potential to undo a lot of the progress that has been made in reducing the firearms fatality rate and could facilitate crime. Even the US has some restrictions on guns, which 3D printing will be able to get around.

There are some disagreements with those statistics, mostly stemming from the (un)reliability of sources and differences in how data is collected/counted between countries. And speaking of unreliable sources, here's a reddit post explaining the gist of the problems: http://www.reddit.com/r/Libert..._crime_involving_a_physical

EDIT: a somewhat more detailed source, http://rboatright.blogspot.com...and-or-uk-murder-rates.html

If you could provide a source for the numbers you put out we could look more into how that data was collected.

But even taking your numbers as fact, and sincerely curious here, do you/how do you propose to stop this problem? Seems to me that any nut job who's that serious about printing his own guns would be able to "jailbreak" his 3D printer, or just buy a jailbroken one on the black market O.O

Edited by Matthew_Thepc, May 10 2014, 1:53am :

That technology is easily defeated. It is also MUCH harder to stop the making of a firearm. Scanning a dollar bill is just a single image. It is well defined too. It doesn't take much in storage or compute capacity to recognize that image. But a firearm can be custom designed. It can be made in individual components, one at a time. Little things can be done to alter the design. The barrel of a gun is nothing more than a tube. You don't have to make a hand stock look like a traditional one. The options are practically limitless.

theyarecomingforyou said,

The point is that most countries have substantial restrictions on firearms, with dramatically lower firearms fatality rates (and overall murder rates) to show for it - Japan being one of those countries. The US firearms fatality rate is over 41x higher than that of the UK and 171x higher than that of Japan.

3D printing has the potential to undo a lot of the progress that has been made in reducing the firearms fatality rate and could facilitate crime. Even the US has some restrictions on guns, which 3D printing will be able to get around.


All right, let me explain you something, without getting for obvious reasons in too many details: the whole story that must because you can buy a revolver or a pistol or even a so called " assault rifle", which is not am assault rifle because the ones you can buy are semiautomatic not full auto increase the violence..... is a fairytale. Cities as New York where is very difficult to obtain a weapon permit have a higher rate of homicides than other without such restrictions. Furthermore all the above mentioned guns are not, so to speak, the best option if you want to go on a rampage. As I said it is better not to go in further details but considering that I have collected guns all my life, I have a Class 3 permit, be reassured that I know what I am talking about.

rfirth said,

Maybe with new printers. Get a printer or scanner from a couple years ago and you'd have no problem.

Opposite actually.

and both devices still encode hidden codes in the image/print.

Cosmocronos said,

All right, let me explain you something, without getting for obvious reasons in too many details: the whole story that must because you can buy a revolver or a pistol or even a so called " assault rifle", which is not am assault rifle because the ones you can buy are semiautomatic not full auto increase the violence..... is a fairytale. Cities as New York where is very difficult to obtain a weapon permit have a higher rate of homicides than other without such restrictions. Furthermore all the above mentioned guns are not, so to speak, the best option if you want to go on a rampage. As I said it is better not to go in further details but considering that I have collected guns all my life, I have a Class 3 permit, be reassured that I know what I am talking about.

Collecting guns makes you an expert on statistics and gun crime and city violence = didn't know that.

HawkMan said,

Collecting guns makes you an expert on statistics and gun crime and city violence = didn't know that.


You do not need to collect guns to be a collector to know about gun crimes and city violence.... You just need to be able to read.

So your claim, without a shred of evidence, is that the easy access to guns and the fact that everyone and their grandma has a gun causing a situation of circular escalation is NOT a reason beyond the massive amounts of gun crime and violence in America compared to any other country...

ok... if you believe it.

Here is how it works, it is illegal to produce or process counterfeit money, it is also illegal to attempt to pass it off in anyway, so if you find a way to put something in a vending machine, even if it looks nothing like a US note, it is still illegal.

Beyond that, the paper is the real thing that is hardest to reproduce. The paper has a unique feel and small, and also will chemically react to test pens differently than other paper. The ink used is thinker than most inks, you can feel it on the page. More recently, the US has included a serial number metallic ribbon woven into the paper and water marks to make them even harder to reproduce.

sphbecker said,
Here is how it works, it is illegal to produce or process counterfeit money, it is also illegal to attempt to pass it off in anyway, so if you find a way to put something in a vending machine, even if it looks nothing like a US note, it is still illegal.

Beyond that, the paper is the real thing that is hardest to reproduce. The paper has a unique feel and small, and also will chemically react to test pens differently than other paper. The ink used is thinker than most inks, you can feel it on the page. More recently, the US has included a serial number metallic ribbon woven into the paper and water marks to make them even harder to reproduce.


Yeah, that's what I thought, but the OP was saying that it's impossible/illegal to *scan* money, not print/use it

Once that blueprint for the Liberator hit the net, there was no stopping this.
Things like this are going to happen everywhere even when the Liberator in itself is a potentially dangerous to the user pos of a handgun.