Kobe – An ordinance to keep tabs on crossbow owners was passed Monday in Hyogo Prefecture, in response to a fatal shooting in June in which a local man killed three members of his family and seriously injured another.
The ordinance, believed to set the first regulations in the country on crossbow owners, requires residents to report ownership of crossbows to the prefectural government or face a fine of up to ¥50,000.
A rise of incidents in which crossbows were used against people has prompted the National Police Agency to study how to control the weapon. As of August, the only legal controls in place were local ordinances banning sales to juveniles younger than 18 in 23 prefectures, including Hyogo.
Under Hyogo’s new ordinance, which targets crossbows of a draw weight of 30 pounds (about 14 kilograms) or stronger, residents of any age who buy a new crossbow will have to report their names and addresses to the prefecture within 14 days starting Dec. 1.
Owners who have moved into the prefecture will be required to do so within 30 days, and residents already possessing the weapon will have to report by the year-end.
Aside from owners, stores selling crossbows would be fined ¥50,000 if they refuse to allow local government on-site inspections.
In proposing the ordinance to the local assembly, the prefecture had initially considered applying it only to new owners who buy a crossbow after it takes effect, but decided to cover all owners after the weapon was used in an attempted murder in July in Kobe.
According to the police agency, police across Japan detected 32 incidents in which crossbows were used between January 2010 and June this year.
The agency plans to compile a report on countermeasures by the year-end.