Japanese man jailed for two years for making 3D printed gun

A 28-year-old man in Japan has been sentenced to two years in prison for using a 3D printer to make homemade guns.

Yoshitomo Imura was found guilty of making plastic pistols from a 3D printer and then publishing a video online showing their creation.

Imura’s lawyers reportedly argued that the designs he used included a plastic plate that stopped the guns from being fired, but prosecutors responded that this could be easily removed.

Yokohama District Court Judge Koji Inaba said his actions were “vicious” encouraging others to also build weapons.

The guns were modelled after the Mauser Zig-Zag, a six-shot revolver used by the German military. Imura first posted a video of the device in late 2013, writing: “Freedom of armaments to all people!!” and “A gun makes power equal!!”

The first ever 3D printed gun was unveiled by libertarian group Defense Distributed in May 2013.  Both the Liberator and Imura’s ZigZag fire .38 calibre bullets, although Imura’s design held six shots while the Liberator is a single-shot device.

Japan has some of the world’s strictest gun regulations and in recent years has reported as few as two firearm-related homicides annually (in the same year, 2006, the US reported more than 25,000 firearm homicides).

A journey to the edge: the mental harm of violence in Mexico

Located in the state of Chihuahua, across from El Paso, Texas, the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez sits sullen on the US border. It is filled with thousands of migrant workers and factory seamstresses, all who have come to this dusty frontier town to make a better life for themselves. But another reality had come to this place.  Violence and all the horrors wrought by it.
 
Between 2007 and 2012, over 11,400 people had been murdered here. Despite having just one percent of the Mexican population, this border town had nine percent of Mexico’s homicides. By 2010, ten people a day were being gunned down on its dust and blood swept streets. That year over 3,500 people died and Juarez earned the title of the most violent city in the world.
 
The death toll in Juarez had reached the levels of a conventional war. A war carried out between drug traffickers and corrupt officials. One fought with torture and assassinations, drive-by shootings and night-time murder. It was so bad that, in a country like Mexico, where the national homicide rate had risen by 86% between 2008 and 2012, Juarez stood out singularly for its violence.
 
The chaos of this city was, perhaps, made starker by the fact that, just across the Rio Grande in the United States, lay El Paso. And in 2014 El Paso was voted the safest large city in the United States for the third year running.
 
The divide between heaven and hell can be as simple as a line of barbed wire.
 
Ciudad Juarez was not only a case study of what happens when plenty of guns meet weak State institutions. It was also a living and breathing urban cocktail of drugs and violence and impunity. Guns have transformed this city, and made life cheap; an assassination here costs just $85. The name of Juarez had become synonymous for violence.
 
One night I travelled into the shadows of the Chihuahuan desert with Alicia Fernandez, a brave photo-journalist in her late twenties who was showing me around. We were looking for what violence had done to the soul of Juarez. And we were heading to the place best to find this; a charity that dealt with madness.
 
The road to the mental hospice was a straight line out into the dark pools of black that lay beyond the ragged edges of the city. As Juarez thinned out, and the desert took her place, the low barbed wire-rimmed walls of the factories ended. Even the shacks, with their contained patches of blue electricity, began to thin out. Until all that was left were the spotlights of the car and the desert silence, the city in the rear window diminishing into the night.
 
“This is where they bring them before they kill them,” Alicia said, nodding at the radiating desert scrub on either side. The gangs who fought their drug turf wars here used this desolation for their revenge.
 
Then, five, ten kilometers into the inked gloom, we saw a murmur of light and a low huddle of faded buildings. Then there was a sudden slope of an unpaved road down to the side. Alicia overshot it and we turned in a gritty circle to head back, stones flying.
 
The Pastor was there, waiting for us and he led us out the back. There a line of cages lay in a mute row.
 
Each was about two feet wide – barely enough for you to stand up in broadways – and each had a tall metal grill onto which an ugly padlock was locked, a low-slung concrete bed that stretched the length back onto a shadowed wall, and a plastic, knee-high bucket, filled with things you did not want to see.
 
Eight cages for eight patients. They lay there, cold eyes in the half-light, faces wrapped silent under thick woollen blankets. Their unwashed feet and their un-emptied buckets gave a smell that thickened the air.
 
But the pills the Pastor and his staff had given them worked well. The downers and sedatives that came with their meals of rice and beans had kicked in, so they were quiet and did not move. The cages were there to protect them, the Pastor told me.
 
They were the mentally ill of the Mexican border town – the result of the violence that had hit the dusty streets.
 
Later the Pastor sat down at his wide desk and beckoned us to take a seat in the office that was also his bedroom. He had found God and God had told him to build this centre for those who had fallen victim to the drugs and the violence in Juarez, he said. And he said how he had scooped up those whose bed was the street and whose minds had long since folded into madness, and gave them food and blankets and a roof. He had no training as a mental health nurse and yet he had a Mexican heart, which was a full one.
 
It’s easy to condemn a man who confines the mad to caged beds. But you knew if he hadn’t offered the ragged men and women some shelter here, their last bed may well have been the Calles of Juarez.
 
Hell as this was, this was also a mercy.
 
There are thousands of places like this in the dark pools of armed violence around the world. Countless beds where the broken and the tormented lie with blank eyes and tortured minds.
 
There are places where men whose minds are broken by the violence they have seen and committed has left them mute, chained to beds.  There are places where communities live locked behind high walls and thick glass, each family caught in fear from what armed violence has brought into their lives.  There are countless widows and orphans whose whole lives will be marked by the sadness of losing a father to a bullet.
 
And most of these will live, like those here, in a cage.  Not always a physical one.  But a cage nonetheless.  Because this is the true face of violence, and that face is all too often hidden.

New data shows 70% rise in civilian casualties from IEDs around the world in the last three years

There has been a dramatic rise in civilian casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) over the last three years, new data from Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) shows.

Numbers compiled from English-language media reports show there was a 70% rise in the number of civilian casualties globally from IEDs like car bombs and suicide vests last year compared to 2011. In 2011 13,340 civilians were killed and injured by IEDs. 2013 saw this number shoot up to 22,735.

In total AOAV’s data, which has been compiled over the last three years and is the only dataset used by the United Nations for tracking explosive weapon harm, showed there have been over 60,000 deaths and injuries from IEDs in 2011 – 2013. 81% of these casualties were civilians.

IEDs did not just impact Iraq and Afghanistan. AOAV recorded IED incidents in 66 different countries and territories in the last three years. Of these countries, eight, including Pakistan, Nigeria and Thailand, saw over 1,000 civilian casualties of IEDs.

New trends show that civilians are at greater risk due to the increased use of large vehicle-borne IEDs and the rise in the numbers of incidents occurring in populated areas.

The figures showed that:

• In 2013, 62% of all IED incidents took place in populated areas, like markets and cafes. This is compared to 51% in 2011.
• Civilians are at much greater risk from IEDs in populated areas. 91% of casualties from IEDs in populated areas were civilians, compared to 42% in other areas.
• Car bombs are being used more frequently. The proportion of IED attacks involving car bombs rose from 11% of all IED incidents in 2011, to 33% in 2013. Each car bomb incident caused an average of 25 civilian casualties.
• Over the last three years 34% of civilian casualties from IEDs were caused by suicide bombers. Suicide bombs were reported in 26 different countries, causing over 18,000 civilian casualties in the last three years.

“This huge increase in the number of innocent victims harmed and killed by IEDs is a terrible concern. Not only to those whose lives are transformed in an instant by these pernicious weapons, but to governments who have to bear the costs of the medical and security implications of these attacks. The use of suicide and car bombing as a major weapon is spreading, and fast. Countries that had not seen their use five years ago are experiencing their horrors now,” said Iain Overton, AOAV’s Director of Investigations.

“Governments should wake up to this emerging reality. Explosive munition stockpiles should be better maintained to prevent explosives from being smuggled out. Victims of IED attacks should receive proper medical and psychological help,” said AOAV’s CEO Steve Smith. “And society at large should respond, condemning this rising use, just as they did on land mines and poison gas. Because if actions like these are not carried out then the use of IEDs in populated areas will continue its harmful and bloody ascent.”

AOAV’s data on IEDs is drawn from almost 500 different English-language media sources. It captures only a snapshot of worldwide explosive violence as reported in the news media. As such it presents only a low estimate of the real extent of suffering caused by explosive violence.

AOAV has also produced a film that counters the narratives used by violent extremists to justify suicide bombings. The film can be viewed here.

AOAV has also carried out research on the long term impacts of IED attacks with a detailed examination of the aftermath of the Moon Market bombing in Lahore, Pakistan.

AOAV is a founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), a coalition of NGOs working to prevent the suffering caused by explosive weapons. UK-based organisations Oxfam International and Save the Children are also members.

This infographic visualises three years of harm caused by IEDs:

AOAV-IGw-3yr-IEDs-FINAL-700x1968

Sudan and China supplying Africa with arms, report concludes.

The Permanent Ambassador of Switzerland to the UN, Olivier Zehnder, said on Monday in New York, that newly produced ammunition was circulating in conflict countries in Africa and the Middle East. He said most of the arms originated from facilities in China and Sudan.

Zehnder, was presenting the findings of the 2014 Small Arms Survey, in which they found that the Sudan Government’s stockpiles were the primary source of weapons for non-state armed groups in Sudan and South Sudan.

Another major finding, according to the survey, was that the value of the global trade in small arms and light weapons has almost doubled between 2001 and 2011. In 2011 the top exporters of arms and light weapons, in descending order, were the U.S., Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, the Russian Federation, South Korea and Belgium. Other countries notable for exports are China, Turkey, Spain and the Czech Republic, Canada, Australia, Thailand, the U.K., and France.

US company invents a bullet proof blanket to protects kids from school schooters.

An Oklahoma company has designed a bullet-resistant blanket that’s meant to protect children and teachers in the event of a school shooting. The Bodyguard Blanket, made by ProTecht, is a bulletproof 5/16-inch pad that the company says is made from the same materials used by the U.S. military. The company estimates that the blanket can provide protection against 90% of all weapons that have been used in school shootings in the U.S.

There were 13 school shootings in the U.S. recorded in the first six weeks of 2014.

A study in January 2014 found that 28 people have been killed in 44 school shootings since the Newtown tragedy.