In China, a ban on private ownership of rifles, pistols, and even gun replicas is a core tenet of social policy. Still, a gun culture is taking hold, reports the Wall Street Journal. Official statistics say that overall crime in China is declining, but a string of splashy gunfights and murders, along with a rash of gun-factory raids and smuggling busts, points to a change in how crime is committed. Reports about gun crimes turn up several times a week even in the controlled state-run media. Guns are now fashionable in paintings and movies; Chinese-language Web sites and glossy magazines cater to gun buffs. Legal shooting clubs let customers fire away at targets for a fee. Some affluent businessmen slip into the countryside for hunts.
The main source of guns appears to be lax control of gun factories and theft from arsenals. China is one of the world’s largest gun manufacturers, for the export market and for its security forces. The government holds gun-surrender drives, appealing to citizens to turn in arms with no questions asked, or even for cash. A six-month campaign this year netted 79,000 guns, 1.8 million replica guns and 5.75 million bullets.