High-profile gun crimes spark calls for action

Updated: 2012-02-06 07:53

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Experts are calling for stricter controls on guns across the country in the wake of a series of shooting tragedies.

In the latest case, three people were killed and eight injured in Huining county in Northwest China's Gansu province, according to local police, who captured the suspect on Sunday.

The gunman, who is said to be in his 30s, used an emulational handgun and the shots were fired at around 10 am on Sunday in Dangxian village, Huining county, said a spokesman with the county's police department.

The suspect was nabbed while running away from police, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The injured victims have been hospitalized and are in stable condition, according to a local hospital, where they are being treated.

The case is only the latest of a series of gun-related crimes that have made the headlines in China in recent months, which is giving public safety experts cause for alarm.

On Friday, a man was shot and injured during a robbery at gunpoint in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning province.

On Jan 30, a man armed with a gun stole about 300,000 yuan ($47,600) from a jewelry store in Huizhou city in South China's Guangdong province, the third armed robbery case in the city so far this year, according to Huizhou police.

And a suspect who shot dead a resident in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, and stole about 300,000 yuan on Jan 6, is also still at large despite a massive police hunt.

Such frequent gun-related crimes are rare in China, which bars individuals from holding weapons.

"I was shocked when I heard about the shooting case in Shenyang," said Ma Yuqiang, a 25-year-old resident in Beijing. "Such cases may cause public panic if police cannot find suspects as soon as possible," said Shao Xiaomin, a Shanghai University postgraduate.

Yi Shenghua, a Beijing-based lawyer at Ying Ke Law Firm who specializes in criminal cases, said although China has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the world, there are still some loopholes in supervision.

Dai Peng, dean of the criminal investigation department of the Chinese People's Public Security University, said police should keep an eye on gun control in border areas of the country's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, where gun trafficking is often tied to drug smuggling.

"There are some black markets for unregistered weapons in those areas, and some people there also make guns privately for money," Dai said, adding that cutting off these sources is the key to preventing gun crime.

Police in Liuzhou, Guangxi, confiscated more than 1,600 guns in 2011, while public security departments in Kunming, Yunnan, also seized more than 7,000 firearms in November, according to previous reports.

"Now, some firearms are traded online and in hidden workshops, which is the most problematic thing for police," Dai said, adding that online supervision authorities and logistics departments should also cooperate with public security organs if such cases happen.

The relaxed management of guns by some police officers may make it possible for people who are interested in weapons or have criminal intentions to get weapons, Yi said.

In China, some occupations, including trainers in police schools and security guards, are allowed to have guns and their carelessness may also lead to the migration of firearms into the black market, he added.

However, Wang Hongjun, director of the Public Order Research Office at the Chinese People's Public Security University, said residents have no reason to worry over armed robberies as most of them are isolated cases.

"But workers, especially security guards in communities and staff members in Internet bars or hotels, should be vigilant," he said.