Gun control tests effectiveness of country's governance
Published: Dec 02, 2018 09:53 PM

While the US has been at an impasse on gun control regardless of constant mass shooting tragedies, China is improving its gun management. The High People's Court and the People's Procuratorate in East China's Zhejiang Province recently issued a document raising the threshold for air gun crime, under which, using air rifles with a muzzle energy of more than 1.8 joules per square centimeter and less than 16 joules per square centimeter normally is not considered serious. According to the new rules, at court the air gun owners are either not charged, exempted from criminal punishment or given a suspended sentence.

A 2010 document by the Ministry of Public Security stipulates guns that are able to fire bullets with a kinetic force of over 1.8 joules per square centimeter are considered illegal firearms. Because of the strict gun classification standard, recent years have witnessed several controversial cases in which people were handed harsh sentences for selling, buying or using air rifles, leading to a public outcry. Many scholars questioned the criterion arguing that by the 1.8 joules per square centimeter definition, the bullets can barely create a bruise on the human skin.

The new rules issued by Zhejiang have been hailed by scholars as a step forward and it's expected that the rules could be adopted across the nation.

China has strict control of guns, and firearms management is an important part of the country's public security management system. Those who illegally manufacture, trade, transport, mail or store any guns, ammunition or explosives shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years, life imprisonment or death. This makes China one of the safest countries in the world with its gun crime rate among the lowest. However, the country's gun control system is not rigid and has been improved.

In this regard, China can be taken as a reference for the US. Gun control is a complicated issue. The US so far has acted poorly in untying the Gordian knot. Repeated mass shooting tragedies have renewed the urgency of the perennial question: Why can't the US effect sensible gun control? Besides the gun culture that is deeply ingrained in American life and the powerful gun lobby, the US government's inaction and procrastination of the US judiciary system have to be blamed also. A modern country has to explore a governance model that best suits itself. Gun control is just one example. Government must take proactive measures to sort out entangled interests so as to advance governance.

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