In July 2014, an 18-year-old from Fujian province ordered 24 replica guns online from a Taiwanese website, costing 30,540 RMB. But the purchase has ended up costing him much more than that.
Unfortunately for Liu Dawei, his package of fake firearms never made it to his home in Quanzhou. Instead, two months later, he was arrested by Chinese police for arms trafficking. Police said that they had intercepted the package and found that 20 of the 24 “replica guns” inside were in fact real guns.
On April 30th, 2015, Liu was sentenced by a judge in Fujian province. In China, smuggling arms mandates a minimum 7-year prison sentence, more serious offenses can be punished with life imprisonment or even the death penalty. The judge in the case believed that the death penalty was appropriate for smuggling 20 guns; however, considering the fact that Liu was only 18 years old at the time he bought the firearms, he aired on the side of leniency and reduced the sentence to life in prison.
In court, Liu couldn’t believe the verdict. “Please shoot me dead with the guns I bought! If I die, I’ll admit I’m guilty,” Liu shouted at the judge.
During the trial, Liu’s lawyer had argued that China’s definition of what is a “real” gun is simply too strict and nonsensical. Chinese law classifies any weapon with a barrel that can fire an object at 1.8 j/cm2 as a real gun. The lawyer argued that that is roughly the speed at which he could throw a handful of beans into someone’s face. In Hong Kong, that standard is 7.077 j/cm2, while in Taiwan it’s 20k/cm2. Before 2008, it was even 16 j/cm2 in mainland China.
Liu argued that he was ignorant of the law and thought that he was merely buying a type of toy. He appealed the court’s decision up to the Fujian Higher People’s Court, which accepted the appeal in April. Last week, a flurry of articles were published on the Chinese web, with experts stating that China needs to look at reevaluating its standards for judging what is a real gun.
And to be honest, 24 firearms, replica or not, isn’t really all that much for China, we’ve seen much, much larger shipments and caches seized in the past — 3,400 guns burned in Sichuan last year; 70,000 guns destroyed in Zhejiang in 2014. As Liu can attest, acquiring firearms in China is pretty easy. Often times, purchasing one can be just a few clicks away.
While many guns are brought in from abroad, some enthusiasts have been known to turn their own apartments into arms factories, selling the finished firearms for a huge profit.
[Images via China News]