An Analysis of the Homemade Weapon Used Against Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed while giving a speech in the city of Nara on Friday. At the scene, police arrested a 41-year-old man, Tetsuya Yamagami, on suspicion of attempted murder after he shot at Abe twice from behind, striking him with the second shot.
Though the incident marks one of the world’s highest-profile political assassinations in recent history, the weapon used in the attack was cheap, crude, and homemade. Such use of a basic weapon made from easily available materials is sure to raise concern for governments and Personal Protection Details (PPDs) around the world.
The photographs from the crime scene reveal that the weapon used in the assassination is handmade. It generally consists of two barrels taped onto a wood mount. The weapon also has a rough handmade pistol grip. However, the notable point is the trigger and firing mechanism of the do-it-yourself (DIY) firearm.
Various cables are visibly connected behind the pipes used as double barrels. At the same time, one can see that these cables are connected to the triggers and that there are batteries in the lower part of the firearm’s barrel, suggesting that the weapon has an electronic firing mechanism.
The firearm was probably loaded with DIY-munitions and gunpowder. It also seems that the weapon lacks a magazine and a loading port: therefore, the ammunition was loaded directly into the barrels. The weapon may be muzzle-loading, or ammunition may have been added before the pipes were assembled. In general, the design of the weapon appears to be unsophisticated.
In addition, various sources reported that multiple other homemade weapons were seized by the security forces during the raid on Yamagami's home.
The weapons look handmade, just like the one used in the assassination. But they include variants with 5, 6, and 9 barrels. It is possible that all of the weapons were made to fire DIY munitions. The additional firearms also lack a magazine and loading ports, and pipes taped to wood were used for barrels as previously noted.
Interestingly, the 9-barreled gun has a DIY wooden stock for stability, and the 6-barreled gun has a reflex sight fixed to the top of the weapon.
It seems that Yamagami has been in a preparatory phase for quite some time. There is no clear information about how he planned to use the other weapons seized in his home, or whether these are prototypes he made while planning the attack.