In China, buying this toy gun might get you arrested

Strict gun controls in China mean fatal shots are rare, and many citizens support the laws to make it so. But there has been a growing debate over the legal definition of a firearm. Experts say Chinese regulations – which prohibit the buying, selling or possessing weapons above a very low force threshold – are vague and difficult for laymen, even judges, to understand. The result, critics say, is that unsuspecting air and spring toy buyers are turned into criminals.

China’s 1996 Gun Control Law states that in order to be legally considered a gun, a gun must be capable of killing someone or causing them to pass out. But in 2010, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security imposed much stricter rules that indeed defined many toys as illegal weapons. By the rules, a toy gun that fires a projectile with sufficient force to tear a sheet of newspaper – well away from deadly or dangerous force – can be considered a firearm, according to lawyers.

In a study published in 2019, investigators from the China Public Security University found that almost all of a random sample of 229 replica firearms purchased online would be classified as illegal under the rules. from 2010.

“These toy guns are openly sold in Hong Kong, but on the mainland they are treated like weapons and ammunition,” said Wang Jinzhong, whose son was sentenced to life imprisonment in Hebei Province, in northern China in 2016 for possession of 16 aftershocks. that the police deemed illegal.

“Frankly, there are a lot of things more dangerous than these toys,” said Mr. Wang, who asked judges and officials to release his son, Wang Yinpeng, 37. “This is truly a human rights disaster for China. “

Over the years, Chinese regulators have demanded that Alibaba be more proactive in preventing the sale of various types of illegal products in its digital bazaars. In 2015, the country’s market watchdog accused the company of turning a blind eye to sales of fake alcohol and cigarettes, fake designer bags and “items endangering public safety.” , such as some knives. Alibaba called the regulator’s findings “false” and filed a complaint.

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