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:


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.


Why firing squads cannot be seen as humane

A botched lethal injection in the US state of Oklahoma last month has caused a Utah lawmaker to come out and announce that he thinks the firing squad is a more humane form of execution. His musings are worth listening to as he plans to suggest that option for criminals sentenced to death in his state.

Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from the northern Utah city of Clearfield, plans to introduce his proposal during Utah’s next legislative session.

He may well succeed. Utah has a tradition of execution by firing squad. Five police officers used .30-caliber Winchester rifles to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010. Utah eliminated execution by firing squad in 2004, citing the excessive media attention it gave inmates. But those sentenced to death before that date still had the option of choosing it, which explains how Gardner met his end.

Ray reinforced his argument with the observation that drug shortages that have complicated lethal injections.  He and lawmakers in other states also suggested firing squads might be the cheapest and most humane method.

“The prisoner dies instantly,” Ray said. “It sounds draconian. It sounds really bad, but the minute the bullet hits your heart, you’re dead. There’s no suffering.”

But this is not always true.

The following two stories, I hope, illustrate that firing squad – apart from the moral debate of a state taking a life and the possibility of an innocent being executed – is not a 100% surefire way of killing someone.


Wallace Wilkerson was born in 1834 in Quincy, Illinois, before moving to Utah with his family at the age of eight. At seventeen he worked as a stockman and repeatedly enlisted in the military, one time serving as a drummer in San Francisco. Around 1877, he found himself frequenting a nearby saloon that was tended by a man named William Baxter, who once had to break up a conflict between Wilkerson and another patron by using a revolver to settle them down.

As luck would have it, that same year fate conspired against Baxter when he wound up running into Wilkerson at another saloon and the two decided to play a game of cribbage for money.

As with most stories about card-playing in the 1800s, this one also took a turn for the worse with accusations of cheating. Baxter attempted to back out of the argument, but Wilkerson was having none of it and planted a bullet in the man’s forehead, then his temple. It later turned out that Baxter was unarmed at the time and Wilkerson was tried and convicted for premeditated murder.

The execution date was set for later that same year, and Wilkerson chose his method of death to be execution via firing squad, rather than the alternative options of being hanged or decapitated.

On the day of his death, Wilkerson was permitted to spend his remaining hours with his wife, during which time he must have gotten his hands on some alcohol, according to witnesses who saw him in his final moments. When he was at last taken from his cell, Wilkerson was dressed in black with a white felt hat and a cigar that he kept during the execution. The condemned man was then seated on a chair about thirty feet from the shooters as a blindfold was prepared for him. Wilkerson, however, declined to wear the blindfold, stating “I give you my word . . . I intend to die like a man, looking my executioners right in the eye.” Restraints, too, were eschewed at the word of the prisoner as a small white square was pinned over the man’s heart by a marshal.

Wilkerson took a deep breath and drew himself up straight in the chair in anticipation of the volley. This action, unbeknownst to Wallace, moved the target several inches upward as the executioners fired their salvo at him. One bullet shattered his left arm, while the rest punched into his torso, failing to instantly kill the man. Wilkerson, meanwhile, leapt from the chair and hit the ground screaming “Oh my God! My God! They have missed!”

Four doctors rushed to him amidst concerns that the executioners might have to shoot him again, but Wilkerson bled out from his wounds just twenty-seven minutes after receiving them.


In Thailand Ginggaew Lorsoungnern was a former domestic for a Bangkok family. Using her familiarity and the trust established with the family that once employed her, she picked up their six year old boy from school and personally delivered him to a Thai kidnap gang, who then demanded a ransom from the child’s parents.

The parents complied, following the plan to hurl the money out of a moving train and close to a designated flag. Unfortunately, because the delivery occurred at night, the parents were unable to properly see the flag and missed the exact spot. Assuming the ransom was denied, the infuriated kidnappers proceeded to stab the young boy to death, at which point it’s alleged that Lorsoungnern flung her body over the boy’s and attempted to shield him. This act, assuming it happened at all, failed to save the boy who was then dumped into a grave. Another sad discovery came later, when the coroner found soil in the child’s lungs, indicating that he was still alive at the time of his burial.

For her role in the boy’s murder, Lorsoungnern was sentenced to death by shooting, an execution in which the condemned was tied to a wooden cross, with their hands bound in a praying position and their bodies facing a wall. Behind them, a screen was set up in which a target was drawn, indicating where the heart was. The executioner remained behind this screen, unable to see the prisoner’s body, and operated a mounted automatic rifle which would deliver fifteen or so bullets to the vicinity of the heart. The sheer amount of bullets striking such a vital region would typically ensure that death came instantly, provided the target did not struggle too much.

On the day of her death, January 13th, 1979, Lorsoungnern succumbed to repeated fainting spells, and had trouble standing under her own power. The escorts had to keep reviving her with smelling salts as they approached the execution room while she continued to maintain her innocence in the boy’s murder.

“I didn’t do it, I didn’t kill the boy,” she begged. “Please don’t kill me, I didn’t kill him.” Her desperate words fell upon deaf ears as the escorts finally managed to lead the woman to the cross and began to secure her to it. At last, the gun was loaded and the executioner took aim. A moment later ten bullets were consecutively fired into the screen.

Shortly after the shots were fired, a doctor approached the woman and checked for vital signs, none of which were found. Lorsoungnern was, by this point, bleeding profusely as they untied her body and laid her face down on the floor where she jerked and twitched slightly. Her chest had burst open from the bullets. Her body was moved to the morgue and placed upon a bed as they readied the next person for execution.

It was then, however, that Lorsoungnern began to utter sounds and attempt to sit up. The escorts rushed into the morgue, one of them rolling her over and pushing down on her back in an effort to help her bleed out quicker. Another attempted to strangle her, but was stopped.

She continued to breathe and was ordered to be tied back on to the cross. The escorts became covered in her blood as they tried to hoist her back into position. Finally, fifteen more bullets were put into her body and she was mercifully pronounced dead. The reasons for her unenviable death are as follows: she was not tied tightly enough to the cross, and could therefore wriggle out of position, and her heart happened to be on the right side of her body instead of the left.


The Pentagon has a plan to halt a Zombie apocalypse.

imagesThis all might seem ludicrous… but it has been revealed that the US Defense Department has a disaster preparation document called “CONOP 8888″.

This is a zombie survival plan, developed to train commanders in the art of preparing for an global catastrophe.The Departmenr of Defence calls it “fictional contingency planning guidance”. The whole plan is called “Counter-Zombie Dominance,” and states, clearly that “this plan was not actually designed as a joke.”

Military commanders are, in the scenario, asked how they would “preserve non-zombie humans from the threat posed by a zombie horde,” an unclassified Pentagon document shows.

The “worst case threat scenario,” so the plan goes, would be high “transmissibility,” —legions of the undead infecting humans rapidly, with little way to counter rapidly multiplying hordes of zombies.

Military strategists assigned to Omaha’s U.S. Strategic Command wrote the document in April 2011, as part of game plan to protect citizens against any kindof threat.

Ad agency Ogilvy sells mattresses using image of teenage girl shot in the face

What were they thinking?

Advertising agency Ogilvy has designearticle-2629179-1DDC33EC00000578-977_634x1344d a poster for a mattress company that shows the schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai being shot in the face.

It shows Malala, who was 14 when she was shot by a Taliban extremist, falling backwards covered in blood, being attached to a drip and then ‘bouncing back’ to receive an award.

Indian bedding company Kurl-On commissioned a series of three poster adverts from the Indian branch of the British design agency.

Oh dear.

Should Glock and Beretta be arming the Guatemalan police?

cmimg_2158This week the Guatemalan government announced it is going to spend $12.6 million to buy new weapons for their National Civil Police. The Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla declared the intention to buy weapons from three different foreign manufacturers.  He called it an “exceptional agreement.”

The multi-million dollar deal means Guatemala is to buy 14,146 automatic pistols from Italy’s Pietro Beretta company for $5.7 million. Austria’s Glock manufacturer are to supply 3,000 more pistols from for about $6.8 million. They will also purchase 100 sub-machineguns purchased from Israel’s Weapon Industries for $152,000.

The question though that remains unanswered is whether these weapons will be used in human rights abuses by the Guatemalan police forces. A 2013 report by the US Department of State lists a number of concerns.  These include acknowledging that the civilian authorities failed to maintain effective control over the security forces and that members of the security forces commit human rights abuses. These include “widespread institutional corruption”, resulting in “serious crimes such as kidnapping, drug trafficking, and extortion; and societal violence, including often lethal violence, against women”. The report lists “killings of journalists and trade unionists” and host of other ills, untempered by “widespread” impunity.

It is hard to put a figure on all of this because the police force and its Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates security forces abuse, failed to  provide the total annual number of accusations of killings involving PNC agents at year’s end.

But there have been some prosecutions that show that there is a cause for concern in the country.  For instance, in the summer days of 2013, a former criminal investigations director of the police was sent down for 33 years for killing three inmates who escaped from the El Infiernito prison in 2005 and seven inmates who escaped from the Pavon prison in September 2006. In May of that year the former dictator of Guatemala, Efrain Rios Montt, was also found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 80 years in prison, though this conviction was later overturned.

In all 17 police or former police officers were listed in the US report as having been arrested for child rape, torture, kidnappings or killings. And one suspects this is but the tip of a dirty iceberg because, as the report states, there is a lack of any “effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption… The level of impunity for security forces accused of committing crimes was high”. Put it this way – in the first 10 months of the 2013, there were 1,461 official complaints made against misconduct of police personnel. And this is just the official number listed.

A 2012 Human Rights report echoes these concerns, stating that “police have used repressive measures to curb gang activity, including arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial killings”.

These facts and hard and cold and of concern.

They raise the question: what, if any, limitations are imposed on gun producers from supplying to police forces known to commit extra-judicial killings?  Which other police forces do these gun producers supply to that are also known to commit human rights abuses?  And should there be a greater concern of such sales?  After all, we criticise Russia for suppling arms to the Syrian government.  Why not the Austrians or Germans or Israelis for supplying arms to governments who commit numerous extra-judicial abuses with impunity?


Chinese MANPAD production and sales

UnknownThe China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) are the two Chinese defence industry conglomerates that have facilities that produce man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS).

The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), part of CASC, has developed and produced the HN-5 (based on the Soviet Strela-2, SA-7) and the infra-red guided FN-6 MANPADS.

The China Precision Machines Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) markets these items for export and Aerospace Long March International Trade Corporation (ALIT) also offers FN-6 and FN-16 MANPADS for export.

The Liuzhou Changhong Machinery Manufacturing Corporation is controlled by CASIC and produces the Qian Wei (QW) missile series, comparable to the Soviet Igla-1 (SA-16).

Chinese-produced MANPADS have been identified in the arsenals of several armed non-state groups in recent years, most likely due to post-delivery diversion from the holdings of authorized recipients. For example, Chinese-produced FN-6 MANPADS have been found in the possession of armed insurgent groups in Chad. Since Sudan is the only known sub-Saharan African recipient of these items, it is believed to have been the source. More generally, there are concerns that HN-5 MANPADS have reached armed non-state groups in South Asia via post-delivery diversion and illicit markets. For example, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in Myanmar reportedly acquired 100 HN-5 MANPADS in the 2012, although the source is not known.

FN-6 MANPADS are reported to be in the hands of armed non-state actors in Syria. According to rebel forces in Syria, the FN-6 MANPADS were not recovered from Syrian stocks but supplied by an unnamed source.

Some reports have suggested that Sudan is the source of the FN-6 MANPADS used by armed non-state actors in Syria. Sudanese Government officials have rejected the reports.


‘Chinese MANPADS in Syria: does 2+2=FN-6?’, Brown Moses blog, 3 Mar. 2013,
http://brown- moses.blogspot.ch/2013/03/chinese-manpads-in-syria-does-2-2-fn-6.html;

‘First sightings of foreign MANPADS in Syria’, Brown Moses blog, 15 Feb. 2013, http://brown-moses.blogspot.fi/2013/02/first- sightings-of-foreign-manpads-in.html;

Karouny, M., ‘Insight: Syria rebels bolstered by new arms but divisions remain’, Reuters, 26 Feb. 2013.

Chivers, C. J., ‘Arms shipments seen from Sudan to Syria rebels’, New York Times, 12 Aug. 2013.

‘Sudan denies sending arms to Syria militants’, Fars News Agency, 16 Aug. 2013.