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Until now it was easier to get your hands on a crossbow than an air rifle.

On Tuesday, Japan’s House of Representatives held a plenary session, and the days discussions of matters of national legislative importance eventually turned to crossbows.

Surprisingly, despite spelling out rules and regulations regarding all sorts of weaponry, Japan’s Firearm and Sword Control Law apparently had no preexisting rules, specifically no specific ordinances, relating to crossbows, of either the two-handed or single-handed pistol crossbow/bowgun variety, perhaps because crossbows are technically neither firearms or swords. As a result, up to now there’s been no specific licensing required for their possession or use. Much like in a fantasy role-playing video game, if you had enough money to pay for a crossbow, you could buy one and use it as you personally saw fit.

That’ll be changing soon, though, as the House of Representatives passed a motion to amend the Firearm and Sword Control Law, and once it goes into effect Japanese residents will need a permit from their Prefectural Public Safety Commission in order to possess a crossbow. The requirement is modeled after one already in place for air rifle ownership, which requires the completion of safety classes and for the owner to be at least 18 years of age.

As to why the Japanese government didn’t sort out crossbow regulations back in the feudal era, the weapons were never particularly common in Japan, and modern firearms have already been strictly regulated for some time. However, according to Japan’s National Police Agency, crossbows/bowguns were involved in 37 reported crimes that took place between 2010 and 2020, 16 of which were murders or attempted murders, including the killing of four people in Hyogo Prefecture in June of 2020.

Along with requiring permits for crossbow ownership, the new law will officially restrict their …continue reading