Multi-colored Printed Guns Leads To Arrest In Japan

Over at Ashley reports on the arrest of a Japanese man for printing guns on a 3D printer. He was not aware that plastic guns were illegal and possessed no ammunition. Ashely writes

Such is the case this week when 27-year-old Japanese man Yoshitomo Imura was arrested for 3D printing guns in his home. Firearm laws in Japan are notoriously strict, although many find ways around that (some legal, some not). A law passed in 1958 prohibits possession of firearms or swords (as we discussed a bit in our history profile of the Higo no Kami pocket knife).

According to a Japanese news outlet, Imura was not aware that owning plastic guns was illegal. Imura downloaded the gun blueprints from a foreign website. About a month prior to his arrest, police had confiscated five of the guns he had printed. Ten toy guns were also discovered, and it was reported that his 3D printer, too, was seized. However, police did not find any live ammunition.

Gun ownership is now just a click away (where the definition of a gun in this context is a plastic hand grenade more dangerous to the user than anyone else). You can now pick up all the equipment to manufacture guns at Walmart, with no skills required beyond those possessed by any iPad-using eight year old child. Download, print, enjoy your prison cell. We live in strange times.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • JumpIf NotZero

    Too bad for the kid (although, I kinda call BS on him “not knowing”, we’ll see how that better to ask for forgiveness than permission works in Japan), but really this the best scenario for 3D printed guns.

    Students, teachers, 3D printing enthusiasts, kids, tinkers, hackers, people around the world in trouble for creating harmless objects at home. It makes gun control look far more senseless than it already is. The best scenario is outrage because of now obvious attempts to at trying to control good people by implying some objects are bad.

    • Abselm

      He possibly said such a thing in the strictest sense of the law?

      “I’m sorry, I didn’t know these plastic toys (which could incidentally fire a couple shots of live ammo if I had any) from the internet were legally guns, which I know I can’t have, policeman-san!”

    • scw

      He post a video on the web showing him test firing the thing. As he is by no means unaware of what he is making.

    • Airman596

      It boggles the mind how some people can remove free will from an individual and assign it to an inanimate object. “In mother Russia, gun controls you!” is actually a literal statement to these people. The moment you hold a gun, you suddenly become a bad person. That’s how these people think and I will never understand why.

    • blabble

      he is now in jail after he gave pro gun ownership remarks. The Kid was very progun and is one of the few who want the Japanese people to be able to defend themselves. the Japanese gov has now started the process to make 3D printing banned. so printing and the 3D printer will be illegal shortly there this story is over a week old.

  • whodywei

    How did police find out he had printed those guns in the first place ?

    • neoconfection

      Police probably had a warrant for ISPs to disclose who downloaded the plans in Japan.

    • nooneyouwouldknow

      He posted videos on YouTube.

    • Paladin

      Reportedly in this case he was discovered through a video he posted online of him testing his creations.

      That said, Japanese police do have a lot of powers that would not be tolerated in western society. There are no fourth or fifth amendment protections in Japan. Many police departments take a very active approach, not just to catching criminals, but also in maintaining 風紀 (fuuki) “public morals”, standards of dress and behaviour. Japanese police officers will often make regular home visits in their patrol areas to “check up” on people and write up reports on the moral character of the people under their jurisdiction.

  • Ops

    Free Yoshitomo!

    • scw

      Unlike in the US, I am sure most people in Japan will find the kid totally irresponsible for building something dangerous. People should understand that they have been living in a world with no guns all their live and there is nothing wrong with that.

      • Fuknutz

        Yeah……..And they also flog you for graffiti or spitting gum on the sidewalk….I’m all for that!

        • Geoff

          Um…that’s Singapore, Not Japan. They are completely different countries, with different cultures and different languages.

        • scw

          I don’t think spitting gum on the sidewalk is legal anywhere.

        • blabble

          no they dont

      • blabble

        dangerous how? there is no way he could have fired them. I guess we all know how you feel about the RKBA.

      • Nicks87

        OMG, soooooo dangerous! Good thing the govt stepped in and stopped this monster before it was too late. Maybe next they can try to figure out how to stop that yakuza thing or maybe the high suicide rate or all the rapes.

  • Marc Smith

    Making small pieces of metal fly at lethal velocities really doesn’t require expertise or high cost manufacturing equipment, you can build a “firearm” from few pieces of plumbing and use match heads as propellant (sure as shit beats any 3D printed pos in reliability and safety) Or you can stay in pneumatics and use regular shop air equipment to build lethal projectile launchers…nevermind spring powered devices. But japan is a joke of a nation anyway, a prolonged death gurgle of a defeated nation… really an omen of things to come for most western nations.

    • Esh325

      I think it’s rather silly to judge a nation’s merit based on how restricted guns are there. And to be honest home made guns showing up in countries with strict gun control is not very common, because firearms are not quite as easy to improvise like you say. A common criminal that wants to commit a crime doesn’t have the time,skills, or equipment to do that.

      • iksnilol

        In countries with strict gun control is exactly where you do make guns. Just check out the Philipines or Brazil.

        In other countries the guns come often from police/millitary armories and of course theft from legal owners.

        What the problem of Japan is, is that they are dying out.

        • Esh325

          Read my post again iksnilol. Did I say guns being home manufactured in countries with strict gun control is something that NEVER happens? NO! What I said is that it’s rarer and not easy to do. Of course you can’t completely 100% eliminate people obtaining guns, but you can lessen it.

          • iksnilol

            I will repeat; In countries with strict gun control is where people USUALLY make guns.

            In countries with more liberal gun laws you just steal them from armories/civilians or pay that one corrupt logistics officer (There is always one for some reason) for them. Since where these options are a possibility, manufacture isn’t too economical. While were guns are hard to get (as in China, Australia or UK), manufacture makes much more economical sense.

            I did read your post, I never implied you said that manufacture never happens in countries with strict gun laws. Just debunking that you said it is more rare. I am not a criminal but I do have experience with these parts of society.

          • Justin William Officer

            Well Gun laws in the Philippines and Brazil are very strict and the streets are flooded with homemade guns . I’m with iksnilol on this one .

      • Justin William Officer

        They don’t have to . They are obtained from the local garage gun builder same goes in most countries with strict laws :

  • abc

    Perpetrators of this incident,Yoshitomo Imura, tested the prototype 3D gun with a blank and posted a video on Youtube.
    This video is copied before deleting an original video.


      The revolver is pretty neat despite its silly look.
      And here it began with single-shot Liberator-type pistols and they made it to the wheelgun in such a short time. Another product of human ingenuity.

    • dan citizen

      talk about a flinch!

    • jamezb

      good lord …jerking your elbows back is a
      poor simulation on non-existant recoil.

    • hydepark

      Sweet dance move, bro.

  • H92

    <====mix this up and put it in a pipe with a rock and seal one end. drill a hole in the top and boom! firearm.

  • Airman596

    We do indeed live in strange times. That people find it acceptable to lock someone up in prison for a “crime” with no victim and no intent to cause harm is asinine. Thought crimes and victimless crimes are tools of oppression that have no place in a free society.

  • Joshua Madoc

    And with every time of change comes the xenophobia.

    I wish I had more energy to comment on this kind of situation. All I can say is “mankind really sucks”.

  • TV-PressPass

    No personal firearms since 1958 eh? Now that’s something scary.

    • getreal5

      its been like that since the time of the samurai. only the samurai and their masters were permitted to have weapons. it worked great for that culture.

      • noguncontrol

        tell that to the ninjas, ninjas had guns since the the 1600s

        • getreal5

          ninjas were derived from the samurai Bushido code.

  • getreal5

    Those Japs need to stay disarmed. My uncle was one of the few survivors that was off of the USS Arizona the morning of its sinking at Pearl harbor. he lost so many friends, that after the war he would not even allow a toyota on his property or anything even remotely japanese.

    • iksnilol

      Thats retarded.

      That is like saying “Fuck the Germans” because your uncle’s friends were killed by nazis.

      Obligatory: sorry for your uncle’s loss.

      • getreal5

        no. i love the teachings of the art of peace. that was written by a Japanese man, and the best cars i’ve owned were toyota. since japan began only the samurai and those trained in bushido were only allowed weapons. therefore I say that the Japanese populace should not be armed like the people in America have been.It is totally against their culture.

    • Joshua Madoc

      I see you’re one of those unfortunate souls that let a family member’s grief paint your destiny into repeating history’s mistakes.

      • getreal5

        No. best cars and trucks i’ve ever owned have been toyota and datsun. love the sony products, and sushi. What I am saying is it is AGAINST the Japanese culture for everyone to be armed. it has never happened as only the samurai were allowed weapons. and i love Ushibas’ “Art of Peace” and study it daily.

  • BryanS

    “You can now pick up all the equipment to manufacture guns at Walmart, with
    no skills required beyond those possessed by any iPad-using eight year
    old child. Download, print, enjoy your prison cell. We live in strange

    As someone who owns a 3d printer, and has access to several, along with working in prototyping utilizing all sorts of SLS, FDM and SLA machines… that comment comes across the same as someone who think semi-autos are of the devil and that little ladies need to keep to a 38 revolver.

    3D printing any of these designs (I have) is not 100% perfect. Nor is it likely to happen the first 5, or even 10 times. If you do get it down, there is still heat treating, checmical treating, or any number of other methods you need to do to make a barrel able to hold the original liberator’s .380 chambering.

    • BryanS

      And as an associate of mine says, 3D printers suck.

      (he is controlling interest in a 3D printer startup….)