This year’s May, we reported that a Japanese man got arrested for possessing two homemade 3D printed guns. Yoshitomo Imura, a 27-year-old man made a YouTube video in which he fired a 3D printed gun, which alarmed the authorities, as there are strict laws on gun possession in Japan. Now, more than five months later, we can report that Imura got sentenced to two years prison time. The Yokohama District Court gave him this sentence, but Imura defended himself by saying he didn’t know this law also applied to 3D printed guns.
However, this is not the first time he made a statement like this. Already during his arrest, he claimed that he didn’t know such guns were illegal in Japan. He meant to say he didn’t know his creations were officially ‘guns’. By then, he also stated that he couldn’t complain about the arrest if the police would regard those guns as real guns. And that is exactly what happened. Another point the prosecutors came up with was that he could potentially – and indirectly – have harmed dozens of people, by putting his 3D models online.
Pressing judge Koji Inaba stated the following:
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.
Despite the fact Imura seems like an innocent guy who possibly just wanted to explore the possibilities of 3D printing, his sentence gives the Japanese people a clear sign: it’s not OK to 3D print your own guns. His sentence could still be appealed by his attorneys, but given the fact this sentence is a message as well, it seems unlikely for Imura to be winning such a case.
Image credits: Badjonni.