Toy gun smuggling case re-opens in China

03 Nov 2016 | By Mansi Motwani
Gun Control in China

Almost an year after 20-year-old Liu Dawei was convicted on a weapons smuggling charge for owning replica guns, the Fujian High People's Court had started reviewing his family's appeal.

In 2014, Liu had purchased 24 replica guns from a Taiwan vendor; those were confiscated by mainland customs and Liu was sentenced to life imprisonment on a 'weapons smuggling charge.'

In context: Gun Control in China

BackgroundGun control in China

China is recognized as being one of the strictest countries of the world with regards to the conditions of gun control.

Numerous military enthusiasts have unconsciously fallen in trouble for owning replica guns, those considered as toys in the rest of the world, but lethal in China.

Many people aren't aware that buying a toy gun in China may lead to life imprisonment.

China's firearm policy

Since its dynastic past, China has had a lengthy past of banning weapons. The source of this can be traced back to its authorities' apprehension toward how lenient firearm regulations lead to social rebellions and make peace a costly affair.
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LimitationConditions of owning firearms in China

The Ministry of Public Security in a 2010 document defined a firearm; this definition is the most accepted across Chinese courts.

According to this definition, guns capable of firing bullets with a kinetic force of over 1.8 joules per square centimeter are considered illegal firearms.

In terms of joules per square centimeters, 16 is the minimum force of a bullet that penetrates human skin.

Comparison of thresholds

The 1.8 joules per square centimeter threshold maintained by the Chinese is 1/11th of what is used by the Japanese and the Taiwanese and 1/4th of the threshold accepted by Hong Kong and Macau.

The CaseLiu Dawei's arrest

In 2014, Liu Dawei, a young Chinese man, had purchased 24 replica-guns from a Taiwanese-vendor which were then confiscated by mainland-customs.

When questioned by the police, 20-year-old Liu perceived the situation as a joke.

On the court's ruling that 20 of Liu's guns were de-facto firearms, he was sentenced to life-imprisonment.

He turned suicidal for which his family filed an appeal with the court.


After the announcement of his verdict, Liu Dawei screamed at the judges saying, "Shoot me with my guns. I will plead guilty if they are capable of killing me!"
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03 Nov 2016Toy gun smuggling case re-opens in China

Lack of awareness

According to Lü Hongwu, a former judge, "If the Ministry of Public Security had broadcast it on TV or made public announcements in newspapers when they changed the criteria, people would oblige. But it did so quietly and people became criminals without knowing it."