May 15, 2014
3D-Printed Guns Land Japanese Man In Trouble
In Japan, a 27-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly printing five homemade guns using a 3D printer. Although no bullets were found, two of the guns were said to be capable of firing real bullets, potentially causing serious injury or death.
The Japan Times named the man as Yoshitomo Imura, an employee of Shonan Institute of Technology in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Suspicions were raised after he posted footage of the guns online, along with blueprints, saying, “The right to bear firearms is a basic human right.” However, he claimed that he did not know what he was doing was illegal, and went on to say, “I can’t complain about the arrest if the police regard them as real guns.” A basic human right, unless it’s illegal. A very deferential Japanese approach to protesting.
The “right to bear arms” statement does show a clear influence from a certain American view of firearms, though, and Imura appears to be getting basic human rights mixed up with what the constitution of the United States of America happens to say, which rather than representing a basic human right is quite different to how most of the world feels about the general public bearing arms.
Very few people in Japan would ever dream of owning a gun, and although police do carry them, gun crime is rare. Indeed, the blueprints Imura used are reported to have come from overseas, and the 3D printer was bought online for around ¥60,000, or roughly $6000 USD. High-level use of technology and a tendency towards obsession are the Japanese traits on display here, and the likely reasons why this story comes from Japan, rather than any Japanese devotion to guns.
The Japan Times reports, “A U.S. gun maker announced last year it had succeeded in firing real bullets using a gun produced by a 3D printer.” The US has regulations against guns that do not contain any metal, but there is still concern about what 3D printing of firearms could mean, not only for the spread of dangerous weapons to people who are potentially not suitable to own them, but also for the difficulties that guns made from resin or plastic cause for airport security.
That said, one would strongly hope that there is a great deal of difference between being intrigued about making your own gun using a 3D printer and actually firing bullets with malicious intent. If genuinely dangerous people, i.e. those that would try to smuggle them through airport security, want to get ahold of guns, then they tend to be able to do so anyway, even before the advent of 3D printers.
Less sinister creations from 3D printers so far include a violin, a bionic ear from researchers at Princeton University, and food using sugar and corn dough from Cornell University, according to Live Science.
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