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Police Announce Gun Amnesty Deadline
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Jail sentences of up to two years are faced by the owners of illegal firearms in Beijing if they don't hand weapons in by July 15, Beijing Public Security Bureau has announced.

As part of a national crackdown on illegal guns launched last month the bureau is urging the public to hand in firearms to police including replicas and air guns.

Those who hand over weapons to police before the deadline will not be punished.

Bureau figures show that around 100 guns were confiscated last month in the capital including five pistols, three shotguns, 38 air guns and 65 replicas.

Ninety-eight people were taken into custody and 10 of them will face criminal charges the police said. No cases have yet reached court.

Toy guns which can look identical to real thing have to be turned in as well as they might "cause human injuries," said Qian Jin, director of the bureau's dangerous object control department.

"Such guns may cause unnecessary nervousness among the public," he said.

He said confiscated guns were from three major sources--those used by criminals, those sold on the black market and those bought before the implementation of the Law on Control of Guns in 1996. Prior to this law being enacted it was legal to buy and keep air guns.

Confiscated guns will be stored by the bureau prior to being destroyed.

In south China's Guangdong Province police are busy tracking down illegal guns.

In April and May, 6,684 guns were confiscated in the province of which 6,085 were replicas. Around 70 cases involving illegal guns were cracked and 12 gangs smashed.

A large number of guns were found in Hualong County, northwest China's Qinghai Province, according to the local police. Hualong is a location where guns are made, stockpiled and sold the Ministry of Public Security said at a press conference last month.

Although those who sell guns can receive punishments ranging from three years in jail to the death penalty the high profits still attract people to the trade. "Each gun can generate profits of up to 3,000 yuan (US$375)," said Xu Hu, deputy director of the ministry's public security bureau.

"The money is a huge temptation for farmers with yearly incomes of less than 1,000 yuan (US$125)," Xu said.

The county government plans to eradicate the production and sale of guns within three years.

However, Zhao Xiaoan, director of the public security bureau in Qunke, a town under Hualong where the problem is particularly serious questioned whether the goal could be achieved.

"It's common practice for local villagers to make guns to earn money," he said in a telephone interview. The director said villagers who offered information could receive rewards ranging from 1,000 yuan (US$125) to 20,000 yuan (US$2,500) but so far little had been forthcoming.

Guns can be made with very basic equipment tools such as springs, sheet iron, steel saws, emery wheels and electric welding machines. Some key parts such as cartridge clips are imported.

"It's not as complicated as you might think," Zhao said. Basic knowledge of gun making had been passed down through families as back in 1949 there'd been weapon making factory in the area, he explained. He also stressed that the key to the problem was to "help local villagers out of poverty."

(China Daily July 5, 2006)

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