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Steep Decline in Firearms and Explosives Trade
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The illegal production, possession and trade of explosives and firearms are declining, the Ministry of Public Security announced yesterday.


Compared with the same period of last year, the number of criminal cases involving explosives and guns dropped by 17.7 and 15.7 percent respectively from January to July. The ministry did not give exact figures. 


This sharp fall is attributed to the national crackdown on illegal possession and trade of explosives and firearms initiated on June 2, Yan Zhengbin, deputy director of the ministry's public security bureau, said at a press conference in Beijing.


As of Sunday, police had confiscated around 117,000 illegal guns, 2,445 tons of explosives, 4.81 million detonators, 3.37 million bullets and 2.62 million meters of blasting fuse since June, according to the ministry.


A total of 4,684 suspects are currently in custody, while 1,794 people have been charged and 920 transferred to public prosecutors.


China's Criminal Law stipulates that criminals selling guns or explosives are liable to sentences ranging from three years in jail to the death penalty.


Yan said the ministry would persevere with the crackdown. "We're confident that the number of these crimes will see another sharp decrease by the year-end."


Yan added that, compared with remote mountainous and border areas, big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai witness a small proportion of crimes involving explosives and firearms.


The production, sales and stockpiling of guns and explosives have been decreasing in China since 2001, but the problem is still "severe" in some areas and causes "constant accidents," ministry spokesman Wu Heping said at the beginning of the crackdown.


Meanwhile, since China tightened regulations on the management of explosives, unlicensed coal mines have resorted to illegal sources to secure dynamite, which "encourages the underground production and sales of explosives," Wu said.


The crackdown has received a warm response from the public. "It's a people's war," Yan said. "We've received 14,173 tips from public reports, and about 6,000 of them were very valuable."


(China Daily September 13, 2006)

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