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Police set sites on firearms trafficking
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08:47, January 15, 2009

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Chongqing has become a passageway for illegal firearms trafficking through which guns can spread throughout the southwest or even the entire country unless action is taken, a senior police officer said.

Deputy director of the Chongqing criminal police squad Wu Lixun told the Chongqing Times yesterday his team had learned online and inter-provincial gun trading were on the rise.

The weapons included standard, knockoff and homemade firearms, Wu said. Wu was site director of a campaign in Chongqing, and Hunan and Guizhou provinces that discovered four arsenals and 10 gun-making dens, and detained several dozen suspects on Jan 9.

The 40-day campaign in Chongqing netted 470 suspects and 183 firearms.

Chongqing municipal public security bureau statistics showed 339 cases involving illegal firearms in 2008, 221 of which took place in the first half. The figure surpassed the total for the time between 2003 and 2005.

The Chongqing Commercial Daily had quoted the bureau as saying the manufacture and trade of guns in the municipality and neighboring regions posed "severe threats" to public order in southwest China.

Investigations found about half the guns seized in Chongqing came from Songtao county on the northeastern tip of Guizhou.

Xiushan county public security bureau director Lu Yunfeng said Songtao's criminals had found a way to make guns for 800 yuan ($118) apiece within three days and could sell them for about 15,000 yuan ($2,205) in Chongqing or for even more in Zhejiang. Xiushan, a southeastern county of Chongqing, is used as a transfer route for illegal guns from Songtao.

Such high profits have led many in Songtao to break the law, while many residents are not even aware firearms trading is illegal, Lu said.

In 2002, police seized more than 2,000 firearms in Songtao, a hideout for Kuomintang soldiers after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, where residents have a tradition of hiding guns.

China.org.cn quoted Xu Hu, director of the security management bureau under the Ministry of Public Security, as saying China had confiscated more than 38 million illegal firearms in recent years. Most were homemade, so few manufactured firearms have been used in gun-related violent crimes.

The Ministry of Public Security said a special drive confiscated 1,399 guns in Sichuan, Yunnan, Liaoning and Zhejiang provinces, and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, last March and April.

China issued the Law on Gun Control in 1996 to clamp down on illegal weapons smuggling, manufacturing and sales.

Source: China Daily

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