(Feb. 13, 2013) In a campaign to fight firearms control offenses launched by China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS, the police) in 2012, 160,000 guns and 2,780 tons of explosives nationwide were seized, according to the official figures released by the MPS on January 15, 2013. (China Uncovers 670 Gun-Related Crime Dens, XINHUANET (Jan. 16, 2013).) The MPS periodically carries out such campaigns.
Although China has one of the tightest firearms control laws in the world, the country still faces the challenges of illegal possession, manufacture, and trade of firearms, as well as to armed offenses. In the 2012 campaign, according to the MPS, the police nationwide also uncovered about 670 secret sites for the illegal manufacture and distribution of guns. After investigating approximately 14,000 cases involving the illegal possession, manufacture, and trade of guns and explosives, the police apprehended 20,000 suspects belonging to 360 criminal organizations. (Id.)
According to Xinhua, there are significantly fewer crimes committed with guns and explosives in China than in many other countries: in 2011, there were only 500 criminal offenses committed with guns and 200 explosions reported in a nation with a population of about 1.34 billion. (Gong’an Jiguan Yanda Sheqiang Shebao Fanzui, Chiqiang Baozha Fanzui An Tongbi Xianzhu Xiajiang [Public Security Organs Strongly Cracking Down Crimes Involving Gun and Explosives, Such Crimes Significantly Decreased Compared with Previous Years], XINHUANET (Oct. 18, 2012).)
China’s current Firearms Control Law took effect on October 1, 1996. The Law generally prohibits any private possession of firearms in China, with extremely limited exceptions. Aside from firearms for military use, the Law categorizes firearms as those for official use and those for civilian use. (Qiangzhi Guanli Fa [Firearms-Control Law] (promulgated by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on July 5, 1996), ZHONGHUA RENMIN GONGHEGUO GUOWUYUAN GONGBAO [GAZETTE OF THE STATE COUNCIL OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA] 805–814 (Aug. 1, 1996).)
Firearms for official use are strictly confined to the police, procuratorial personnel working on investigations, and customs personnel. In addition, guards and escort personnel working for important state defense enterprises, financial institutions, storehouses, and scientific research institutions may carry firearms if the firearms are necessary for the performance of their duties. (Id.)
Firearms for civilian use are permitted for specified “work units” in three areas: sports; hunting; and wildlife protection, breeding, and research. Individual hunters in hunting areas and herdsmen in pastoral areas may possess hunting rifles, which cannot be removed from those areas. (Id.)