The following is a translation of a Jan. 6 column by Pan Xiaotao (潘小濤) in Apple Daily, a Hong Kong tabloid, about China’s arbitrary laws and regulations on guns. The column was titled “The strange toy gun case that keeps the court funded” (玩具枪养活法院的奇案). The author notes that guns deemed illegal are one day confiscated, and the next day auctioned off by the courts. One woman received a three year prison sentence for operating a toy gun stall at a fare. — Epoch Times translation team
According to online words of wisdom, there are two kinds of logic in the world: one is logic, the other is the logic of China. Similarly, there are two types of toy guns: one is a toy gun, the other is a toy gun in China that may be regarded as a deadly weapon.
At the end of last December, Zhao Chunhua, a 51-year-old woman who operated a toy gun shooting gallery on a street in Tianjin, was convicted of illegal possession of guns and sentenced to three-and-a-half-years in prison.
In August 2016, Zhao took over a booth that featured a game of shooting balloons with toy guns and plastic bullets. Every day she would blow up hundreds of balloons until feeling dizzy. She kept business hours from 8 or 9 pm to 12 am, and her monthly income was slightly over 3,000 yuan ($436). During the day she collected cardboard to make ends meet. On Oct. 12, 2016 the public security bureau suddenly made a “sweep.” They took Zhao away, saying she was suspected of possessing nine guns and plastic bullets. Later, the Tianjin Public Security Bureau identified six of the compressed gas guns as “guns,” and brought Zhao to court. The Tianjin Hebei District Court convicted her.
The verdict surprised the whole country. According to guns and ammunitions regulations issued by the Ministry of Public Security in 2010, non-standard guns, including toy guns, are considered real guns if they have a projectile power of greater than 1.8 joules. It means that most toy guns are in fact regarded as real guns. Chinese children could be charged with gun possession and sentenced to prison if they play with toy guns! This standard is 11 times more stringent than in Taiwan. The standard in China before 2008 was also much more relaxed. Now, all toy guns of the past are considered real guns.
In the past few years, there have been 23 cases involving the sale, purchase, or use of toy guns. However, most of them were given probation sentences of less than three years.
Under a system where you have to register with your real name when buying a kitchen knife, it is not surprising that the Ministry of Public Security came up with such a harsh firearms standard. It shows how paranoid they are.
Even more ridiculous, the government ignores the fact that China’s toy factories produce thousands of toy guns every day, and toy shops, department stores and online stores sell hundreds of thousands of toy guns. We’ve never heard about Public Security shutting down any of those “weapons factories.”
The most prominent case of injustice recently was the “Inner Mongolia Huugjilt case.” One of the charges against Feng Zhiming was illegal possession of four guns and 549 bullets. But this crime only brought him a sentence of three years.
Zhao Chunhua was slapped with a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for owning fake guns and fake bullets while Feng was given three years for real guns and real bullets. Is there anything more absurd than this? There is!
Xinyang Court in Henan Province held a public online auction of 29 confiscated toy guns, some of which were the same kind as the ones owned by Zhao Chunhua. Is the court knowingly breaking the law? On one day, the court sentences sellers and owners of toy guns, and the next day, the court sells the guns online. Public Security official can arrest buyers, charge them with a crime and sentence them, and then auction off the confiscated toy guns. Toy gun proceeds alone can support a court!
It is absurd that public security authorities made these rules. Even more inconceivable is the fact that the government has not publicized and warned the public about this legal trap. Toy guns are on the market because law enforcement authorities don’t stop the manufacture of them. When faced with a budget deficit, public security officials simply conduct a selective law enforcement sweep and put innocent people in jail.
Xi Jinping stated in his New Year message that in 2017 the Chinese government would “fully build a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepen reform, comprehensively manage rule of law, comprehensively and strictly manage the Party.”
But with the way in which law enforcement officials are handling toy guns, aren’t they thumbing their noses at Xi Jinping’s rule-of-law promises?