The recent assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe last week sent shockwaves throughout the world. Based on evidence police saw, it appeared to be the suspected gunman used a homemade rifle to gun down the former prime minister.
It should be noted it is much, much harder, and in fact, extremely difficult to obtain firearms legally in Japan than it is in the US.
To own a firearm in Japan, you are required to have a license, and it’s just as difficult as obtaining a driver’s license. Firstly, you have to pass a knowledge test and must have skills training, alongside a medical evaluation to show that you’re physically and mentally fit to own a firearm. Background checks can take over 40 days, and sometimes months. This includes police approval for the exact firearm they’re choosing to purchase as well as any ammunition. Additionally, the license must be renewed every few years. All handguns are banned from civilian use, reserved only for law enforcement.
These strict requirements are the result of the United States disarming Japan after World War II, to ensure they did not get so powerful again.
Unfortunately, some people in Japan who can’t obtain a license to get a firearm due to their criminal record or medical ineligibility are finding a new tactic – building their own. There are a number of websites, notably Defense Distributed, that provide blueprints for building firearms using a 3D printer, given if they have one and a good understanding of the English language since many of them do not have Japanese-language versions.
Because these sites offer the blueprints to build illegal ghost guns. Many governments have taken the chance to block access to these sites on a country’s major ISPs or as government censorship. Defense Distributed got into a legal battle with the U.S. government over its legality, but a court ruling allowed the site to remain legal. If a site like this is blacklisted in one country but still accessible in the United States, a gunmaker can use a VPN in the end to bypass that firewall.