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Govt to get tougher on gun crime

By Zhang Yan (China Daily)

09:10, February 10, 2012

BEIJING - The government is to crack down on the illegal possession of guns and explosives following a recent spate of armed robberies nationwide.

"We will concentrate on tackling crimes involving serious violence and other prominent criminal activities in order to strengthen security in cities and maintain social order and overall stability," said Huang Ming, deputy minister of public security, announcing the campaign against gun crime.

There has been a series of armed robberies across the country in recent months, including incidents in Nanjing, Shenyang and Huizhou, Guangdong province, which have made headlines and caused public concern about security.

The latest on Tuesday involved a kidnapping at gunpoint in Changde, Hunan province.

The kidnap victim, a local hotel boss, was eventually rescued by police, who shot dead one suspect.

Huang vowed to intensify efforts in the fight against gun crime, saying the police authority will take special measures to control possession of firearms and explosives throughout China.

"During the action, we will thoroughly investigate a number of gun or explosives-related cases, seize illegal weapons, arrest relevant criminal suspects, and destroy sources, networks and dens where guns and explosives are illegally manufactured and trafficked," he said.

Moreover, they will strengthen security at key areas, combining police patrols and video surveillance, to prevent crime, he said.

According to national firearms management regulations, any individual or institution that manufactures, transports, owns, rents or sells firearms and ammunition is outlawed.

"The special campaign is considered an active response to the public's desire for improved social security and stability, and it will provide a safe and secure environment for some major political conferences and activities to be held this year," said Dai Peng, director of the criminal investigation department of the Chinese People's Public Security University.

He said the main sources of firearms in China were those smuggled in from foreign countries, and those involved in drug trafficking in areas such as Yunnan, Guangxi and Guizhou in the southwest.

"Relevant judicial bodies and administrative departments should intensify efforts to curb circulation of illegal firearms, especially the online trade, and the Customs can also logistically improve investigations into arms smuggling," Dai said.

Anyone convicted of gun crimes faces a jail term of up to seven years. If the circumstances are serious enough, they will face the death sentence, said Li Guifang, deputy director of the criminal defense committee of the All-China Lawyers Association.

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