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Illegal gun sellers dealt heavy blow
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A total of 381 people have been arrested and more than 1,000 websites have been shut down for advertising guns for sale on the black market, the Ministry of Public Security said yesterday.

Also, about 120,000 related Web pages have been deleted, following a crackdown between August and October, it said on its website.

Chinese law forbids any organization or citizen to purchase or trade in guns and ammunition. Such weapons, under license, are permitted only in areas that have wild animals, such as at hunting lodges and gun clubs.

Under the Law on Control of Guns and the Criminal Law, people who illegally trade in arms face a minimum of three years' imprisonment to a maximum sentence of death.

Although most people know to possess or trade in guns is illegal, they are assessable.

Many have received mobile messages about the sale of guns and there have been newspaper reports about laid off workers at military plants secretly making and selling guns.

"There is a saying that if you have the right connections, you can get a gun," Wang Tianping, a military enthusiast in Guangdong province, said.

Last week, two people in Zhejiang province were jailed for purchasing air rifles, air pistols and more than 10,000 pellets through the Internet. Both were addicted to the computer game "Counter Strike".

In March, the Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News reported that an online auction of an M-16 rifle went for 12,000 yuan ($1,700). The buyer later removed his online account.

"Online advertising of guns locally has now disappeared. Only some websites based in Hong Kong or overseas do so, and they are often inaccessible," a 26-year-old man surnamed Li, who sells replica guns in Guangzhou, said.

(China Daily November 19, 2008)

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