A panel appointed by the National Police Agency (NPA) proposed Thursday the introduction of a permit system for the possession of crossbows in the nation, to prevent crimes involving the weapon.

As crossbows are not regulated under the existing Act for Controlling the Possession of Firearms or Swords and Other Such Weapons, the panel underlined in a report the need to implement effective measures against their misuse. The NPA plans to proceed with work needed to revise the law.

The report stated that crossbows have the power to put people’s lives in danger. Those wanting to possess crossbows should seek permission from local public safety commissions and should use them for limited purposes, such as for animal anesthesia, academic research and sports, the report said.

The NPA set up the panel to discuss crossbow regulations after four people were killed or injured in a crossbow attack in Hyogo Prefecture in June.

The panel said in the report that causes for ownership disqualification should be stipulated to prevent the misuse of crossbows. For air guns, for example, 18 causes for ownership disqualification are stipulated, including situations in which a certain period has not passed since a specified criminal act was committed.

According to an NPA survey, of the 23 incidents detected by police involving use of crossbows between January 2010 and June this year, cases in which suspects would have been subject to such disqualification clauses accounted for 65%.

The report said crossbow distributors in the nation should be registered with public safety commissions and that those buying crossbows should be required to present their possession permits.

It also said online sales of crossbows should be regulated in ways similar to hunting guns and air guns, which require delivery staff to check the buyers’ identification, for example.

Although the exact trading volume of crossbows in Japan is unknown, there are distributors that have sold over 1,000 units in a year, according to the NPA. The panel’s report said the current crossbow owners should also be subject to the regulations after a certain transition period.

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