Firearms sold on cyberspace

Over 1,000 guns and 10,000 bullets were confiscated and 241 people arrested for running an illegal, cyberspace firearms business in Jiangxi Province, reported the Beijing-based Legal Daily.

The investigation by the Pingxiang Public Security Bureau, which lasted a year, found the suspects had sold guns to over 700 clients in more than 200 cities and counties in 30 municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions across the country.

Police tracked the gun buyers and confiscated their weapons, along with 200 firearms that were found when the sellers were busted. Police said they also confiscated 55,000 firearm parts.

“The stealthy cyber crime was very difficult to investigate,” Yang Fukuan, head of the crime investigation team at the Jiangxi Provincial Public Security Department, was quoted by the Legal Daily as saying Tuesday.

“A huge organized criminal gang and an extensive network of buyers are involved in the case,” Yang added.

Guns are strictly controlled in China and private gun ownership is outlawed.

“The illegal gun trade used to be limited to a small and secretive group, cyberspace now provides a hotbed for trade in weapons,” Liu Tao, professor from the Chinese People’s Public Security University, told the Global Times.

“An increasing demand for guns also plays an important role,” Liu added.

He Li, deputy director of the firearms control department at the Ministry of Public Security, said criminal gangs, ethnic minorities who hunt, bodyguards and drug dealers are the main clients of illegal gun sellers, the Beijing News reported.

“The crackdown on online gun sales is positive as authorities have become familiar with the new methods of the illegal firearms trade,” Lü Benfu, an expert on Internet security with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times.

The Ministry of Public Security launched a campaign on September 25 with 29 provincial police departments to contain the sale of firearm online.

More than 530 suspects have been arrested in the campaign, and over 1,000 guns and 10,000 bullets confiscated during this crackdown.

In June, local police in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, arrested 1,700 suspects who sold about 2,000 guns online to 32 regions in the country.

However, experts advised that more work needs to be done to fight cyber crime.

“The current Criminal Law defines cyber crime only vaguely and leaves loopholes in handing out harsh punishment,” Liu said, adding that more detailed regulations are needed.

Lü said that China needs to improve its ability to detect cyber crime by learning from successful experiences in foreign countries.

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Gun Control

For three decades, the story of gun control was one of notorious crimes and laws passed in response, beginning with the federal law that followed the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. But after a Democratic-controlled Congress in 1994 passed bills proposed by President Clinton to restrict certain kinds of assault weapons and to create a national system of background checks for gun purchases, the political pendulum began to swing the other way. President Bush’s defeat of Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election was attributed in part to the perception among gun owners that Mr. Gore was “anti-gun.”

Supporters of gun control regularly point to the power of the National Rifle Association, whose 4.3 million members make it one of the most effective advocacy groups in Washington.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights included a guarantee of the personal right to own a gun. The decision was both a measure of how far the pro-gun debate had moved, and a blow to many of the stricter gun control laws adopted by cities like Washington and Chicago.

In recent years, there have been calls for a renewed debate over gun violence after a series of horrific shootings. In November 2009, an Army psychiatrist at Fort Hood, Tex., was accused of shooting and killing 13 people and wounding 30 people. In January 2011, a gunman in Tucson, Ariz., armed with a Glock semiautomatic, shot and killed six people and wounded 14 others, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona.

In the wake of the Tucson shootings, gun control advocates said they believed the shock of the attack would alter the political atmosphere, in no small part because one of the victims was a member of Congress. But the bills that were introduced — including ones to restrict sales of 100-bullet magazines or to tighten background checks — went nowhere.

Calls for a Renewed Debate After Colorado Rampage

The frustration of gun-control proponents was even more clearly on display in the wake of a deadly rampage in July 2012, when a gunman in Aurora, Colo. — armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and a 40-caliber Glock handgun — opened fire in a crowded theater at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. The victims included members of the military and a 6-year-old girl. The attack was one of the deadliest mass shootings in the history of the United States.

In response to the tragic shootings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York called on the presidential nominees Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to come up with a comprehensive gun control policy.

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House passes right-to-carry bill

WASHINGTON – Legislation that would require states to recognize concealed-carry firearm permits issued by other states got a boost on Wednesday, passing the House by a vote of 272-154 after contentious debate.

Supporters — including the National Rifle Association and 43 House Democrats — said the legislation, the Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, would simplify rules for permit-holders when they carry weapons across state lines.

But opponents called it a “race to the bottom,” saying it would force states to recognize looser permitting requirements of other states. States could be forced to issue permits to criminals convicted of dealing drugs to minors and domestic violence, Democratic opponents argued.

“This bill will undermine public safety,” said Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va. “We should let the states decide whether or not, or under what conditions, to allow people who are in their state to carry concealed handguns.”

On the other side, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said the policy would be similar to allowing drivers to use their licenses in other states.

But law enforcement organizations, which widely oppose the bill, have said they aren’t capable of accessing other states’ concealed-carry permit databases for verification purposes.

The House passed an amendment authorizing a study of the ability of state and local law enforcement to verify out-of-state permits. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said that study should have occurred before the House approved the proposal.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., has 245 co-sponsors in the House but is likely to meet stiff resistance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The legislation would still require permit-holders carrying concealed guns in another state to follow that state’s laws, particularly restrictions on where guns can be carried — universities, for instance, or bars or government buildings. But the bill wouldn’t require them to meet all of that state’s application qualifications, such as a minimum age requirement or a totally clear criminal background.

A total of 49 states — all except for Illinois — have some sort of law allowing the carrying of concealed guns, and would be required under this legislation to recognize the less-strict permits of other states. Under the current system, states must negotiate direct agreements to recognize one another’s permits.

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