3D-printed gun maker draws jail term in Japan

Yoshitomo Imura, 28, was sentenced to two years as the court backed Japan's stiff gun controls

A Japanese court has sentenced a man to two years in prison for making firearms with a 3D printer.

The Yokohama District Court handed down the sentence to Yoshitomo Imura, a 28-year-old former employee of Shonan Institute of Technology who made a number of guns with a 3D printer in his home in Kawasaki outside Tokyo last year.

Imura was arrested in May on a charge of illegal weapons possession in what media reports described as Japan's first such case involving 3D-printed firearms.

"This has shown that anyone can illegally manufacture guns with a 3D printer, flaunting their knowledge and skill, and it is an offense to make our country's strict gun controls into a dead letter," public broadcaster NHK quoted judge Koji Inaba as saying in the ruling on Monday.

Prosecutors had demanded a prison term of three and a half years for Imura. Defense lawyer Akira Noguchi had argued that Imura did not know his acts were illegal. After the ruling, he said that an appeal had not been decided upon yet.

A YouTube video uploaded earlier this year apparently shows Imura firing one of the guns in a wooded area. Reposts of a design video apparently made by Imura show the so-called ZigZag revolver has a capacity of six bullets.

Imura's firearm differs from the design of The Liberator, the 3D-printed gun created by Cody Wilson that is regarded as the world's first working 3D-printed gun.

Wilson said that design files for that gun were downloaded more than 100,000 times before the U.S. State Department told him to take them down.

Japan has strict controls on firearms compared to other countries. Only 15 people were murdered with handguns in 2012, according to data from the National Police Agency. Statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, published in 2012 by The Guardian newspaper in the U.K., showed that per 100,000 population Japan had 0.01 gun murders each year and 600 guns, while the U.S. had 2.97 gun murders and 88,800 guns.

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Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
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