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Zip gun, the handmade gun used to kill former Japan PM Shinzo Abe

A handmade gun was possibly used in the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a country with strict gun control laws. 

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Suspected shooter Tetsuya Yamagami being detained by police.
Suspected shooter Tetsuya Yamagami being detained by police.

By Ankit Kumar: In May 1984, two inmates at a German jail used metal bedposts, match-heads, light bulbs and simple batteries to create a gun and stage a jail-break. Over the years, several versions of such improvised firearms -- widely known as Zip guns -- have been reported across the world. A similar homemade gun was possibly used in the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a country with strict gun control laws.

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Former Japanese Abe Shinzo was shot in the chest while making a speech at an election campaign in Nara, Japan on Friday. Shortly after he was shot, police captured 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami as a suspect in the case. Police also retrieved the gun from where Abe was shot at.

While the investigation into the incident is underway, visuals shown by local media provide important clues to the weapon used in the assassination of the former prime minister.

READ | Moment when ex-Japan PM Shinzo Abe collapsed after being shot at during speech | Video

According to Japan-based NHK World, Abe was shot twice by a likely homemade firearm during a speech in the western city of Nara. A careful look at publically available images ruled out the use of sophisticated factory-made weapon in the incident.

"We tried to resuscitate him but, unfortunately, he died at 5:03 pm", NHK quoted Doctor Fukushima Hidetada of Nara Medical University.

Abe's visit was only made public a day before and the details of his schedule were released through social media.

The 41-year-old suspect with a history of working with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years is seen carrying a weapon that appears to be an improvised firearm likely assembled with a pair of pipe guns, wooden block and duct tape.

ALSO READ | Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dies after being shot

The weapon, which according to local reports was homemade, also features battery like parts below the barrels. Modern rechargeable lithium batteries often used in our daily use devices such as laptops are used to heat the agent inside a shell which is generally filled with some kind of explosive and metal balls.

The electric wire seen in the images further confirms this premise. While factory made guns are often regulated, assembly of such homemade weapons using daily common materials such as iron pipes, fireworks, batteries and wood can easily bypass surveillance.

One of the obvious flaws of such guns is the limited firing range that does not make them a weapon of choice in high stake operations. However, such weapons are often used at places of higher restrictions and surveillance, such as prisons, and can be used to cause lethal damage in close proximity.

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Video shot during the speech shows the suspect, Yamagami Tetsuya, standing behind Abe and walking towards him before he opened fire on the 67-year-old leader who was the longest serving Prime Minister of Japan.

The existence of such firearms is a challenge for the security agencies tasked with protecting high-profile individuals all over the world.