Police arrested 27-year-old Yoshitomo Imura, a university official from Kawasaki City, after he posted a video of himself firing a 3D-printed six shooter called the Zig Zag revolver. Imura was employed at the Shonan Institute of Technology and owned a $500 home 3D printer.
The trouble started when Imura printed and fired the Zig Zag in a video posted 25 weeks ago. In the video we see him assemble the primitive gun and fire blanks. Imura wrote:
It is the first 3D printer revolver in the world which can discharge the live cartridge made in Japan. In order to protect the law of Japan, the bullet for motion picture photography is used. Please make in the United States. !!
It appears that Imura raised hackles in Japan back in March when the Zig Zag first appeared on Japanese television. This week police raided his home and found five 3D-printed guns as well as his cheap 3D printer.
Japan has long upheld the Japanese Firearm and Sword Act which essentially outlaws guns in the country. The law states:
Unless otherwise provided by a specific provision, the Law prohibits the following: possession of a firearm, handgun part, handgun ammunition, imitation handgun, or a mock arm with intent to sell; import of an Article 3-4 Handgun, a handgun part, or handgun ammunition;” conveyance of an Article 3-4 Handgun, a handgun part, or handgun ammunition; receipt of an Article 3-4 Handgun, a handgun part, or handgun ammunition;’ the firing of an Article 3-4 Handgun in a public place such as a public road, park, station, theater, and department store or on or at public transportation; the carrying of a sword with a blade length of greater than six centimeters, or an imitation sword;
What does this mean for the future of 3D-printed guns in Japan? Clearly the police see the manufacture of any firearm to be an offense and the same goes for the 3D-printed models. In short, the police treated Imura as if he had manufactured a firearm using more traditional methods. Regardless of medium and material, then, a gun is a gun.