Yoshitomo Imura, a 28-year-old former employee at the Shonan Institute of Technology, learned Monday that he will spend two years in prison for the “crime” of using a 3-D printer to make guns in one of the most “gun controlled” nations on Earth. Police searching Imura’s home found at least two (one source says six) printed plastic guns, including a .38 caliber revolver that had apparently successfully fired (blank) ammunition. From Wired:
Among the half-dozen plastic guns seized from Yoshitomo Imura’s home in Kawasaki was a revolver designed to fire six .38-caliber bullets — five more than the Liberator printed pistol that inspired Imura’s experiments. He called it the ZigZag, after its ratcheted barrel modelled [sic] on the German Mauser Zig-Zag. In a video he posted online six months ago, Imura assembles the handgun from plastic 3D printed pieces, a few metal pins, screws and rubber bands, then test fires it with blanks.
According to an ARS Technical article, Imura claimed to have been unaware that his home gun making project violated Japanese law:
“I made the guns by the 3D printer at home. I did not think it was illegal,” the suspect was quoted as saying.
That claim might have been more convincing had he not, before his arrest, written “Freedom of armaments to all people!!” and “A gun makes power equal!!” in the description of the video he had posted online of his assembly and testing of the revolver.
Imura might have to consider himself “lucky” to have received “only” a 2-year sentence. Prosecutors had hoped to take three-and-a-half years of his life. Judge Koji Inaba may have disappointed them, but he left no room for doubt about the depth of his disapproval of Imura’s actions. If the English version of a Japan News article is accurate, Inaba believes that Imura acted “viciously,” by virtue of his having made his gun making techniques available on the internet:
Imura’s actions were “vicious” because he made it easy to imitate his production method, presiding Judge Koji Inaba said, noting that Imura had released 3-D design data for his guns on the Internet.
But it is what the judge is next quoted as saying that makes this incident in Japan worthy of attention on this side of the Pacific:
The accused had “flaunted his skills and knowledge and attempted to make gun controls toothless,” the judge said.
Actually, Judge, he more than “attempted” to pull “gun control’s” teeth. “Gun control”–even that with some of the most draconian forcible citizen disarmament laws in the world–is being rendered toothless, by the people’s emerging ability to manufacture guns at home, without any special skills. And that is without CNC milling machines for under $1,500, and 3-D metal printers for under $5,000.
Japan has for decades imposed iron-fisted controls on not only private possession of guns, but on swords, and even long knives, preserving the “government monopoly on force” so beloved of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. That monopoly is now crumbling. Imura was caught because he made no effort to hide his gun making (and indeed actively publicized it). Others will be more circumspect.
And there is very little a government can do about them, in Japan, in the U.S., or anywhere else.
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