According to a report on NHK and BBC, Tokyo resident Yoshitomo Imura has been arrested by Japanese police.
The 27-year old apparently was found in possession of 3D printed “possibly made with the technology”. He’s been charged with concealing two such 3D printed weapons in his Kawasaki home.
Imura “admitted to using a 3D printer at his home to make the guns, but that he did not think it was illegal.” He had five prints onsite but police determined two of them were capable of firing, thus the charges against two weapons. Imura’s computer also had stored the 3D CAD files for printing the weapon.
Presumably the design used was the Liberator, made by Defense Distributed, who no longer distribute that design after a government shutdown.
While this event certainly has made the headlines, we must offer our thoughts. We’re not certain of the legality of weaponry in Japan, but we understand that most types of guns are in fact illegal. Thus, the possession of the two 3D printed guns is likely no different than possessing ANY gun: illegal.
In this case Imura apparently didn’t realize the weapons were illegal. One could say he probably did, but it is also conceivable that one truly doesn’t realize they are actual weapons. Plastic guns, for most people, would be immediately thought of as toys, wouldn’t they? In any case each jurisdiction should make their policy on 3D printed weapons perfectly clear, otherwise this is probably going to happen again.
This event is not nearly as silly as the Manchester incident, but is perhaps representative of the confusion generated when a new technology like 3D printing encounters laws and people’s misunderstanding of them.