Heated discussion among Chinese netizens: Should China allow its people the right to carry guns?

Alia | December 15th, 2012 - 12:16 am

December 14 is a tragic day for the two competing ends of the world. Two horrible attacks on school children at two elementary schools happened in both China and the US, one with no death, the other with 28 deaths.

Injured kid in Henan

In Henan province China, 22 elementary school children plus one villager were injured in a knife rampage at the entrance of Chenpeng Village Primary School in the city of Xinyang. The suspect, a 36-year-old villager called Min Yingjun, was already arrested by local police. Initial investigation confirmed that the suspect has mental illness. At the other side of the world, a 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza shot 27 dead, including 20 school children, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The only difference between the two cases is the weapon. This coincidence has led to many in the US to argue for more strict gun control . For example, James Fallows at the Atlantic argued, “…guns uniquely allow a psychopath to wreak death and devastation on such a large scale so quickly and easily.”

In China, similar discussions are going on. The fact that the US allows its citizens the freedom to carry firearms has long been used as an example of the advantage of US-style democracy. For example, netizen 张若峥  commented: “The right to own gun is protected by the US Constitution. The intent is not to protect gunman, but to project basic human right. Gun control would be unconstitutional.” 后白夜叉式生活 is another supporter: “Americans think the right to own gun is just like the right to hold forks and knives – it’s a basic human right.” 光影的快乐世界 agreed: “The legal right to carry guns is a symbol of American democracy. The tragedy today is but a price for freedom.” Netizen bleemer went even further: “An America with gun controls won’t be America any more.”

Indeed, many in China think that if the Chinese people were allowed to have guns, the government would have to think again when abusing powers. Netizen 鹊桥坊 asked: “If [the people] are with guns, who would dare to go ahead with forced demolition?” 魏寒枫, editor at Chinese Businessweek, argued that with guns, the under-privileged in Chine like petitioners would have a chance to fight back against authorities: “So many children were shot. Even God would cry. But that’s probably the price of freedom. From a technical point, it’s OK to discuss how to pass laws that can better control the use of guns, but it’s not OK to take away people’s right to fight for freedom.” And they are surely not alone in thinking this way, Johny668 voiced his opinion: “Guns in people’s hands the last barrier to prevent power abuse. Whether to allow the right to carry guns shows whether the government respects the rights of the people. The harm done by a few psychopaths,  if compared with the oppression caused by a abusive government, is totally negligible.”

But not everyone agrees that the right to own gun is a good thing to have in China. Netizen 骁Reveur weighed in: “Given the situation now in China, if everyone is allowed to have a fun, China will probably be covered by blood. There will be no quarrels  only the sound of gun shooting. 50k deaths a year at least.” 左苏阳201 shared the fear, “If China allows gun rights, I would dare to go out on streets.”

The two tragedies today also make some people think again. 北京厨子, popular Weibo celebrity with more than 19k followers on China’s microblogging servie, thus commented when sharing the news in Newtwon, “Share [this US news] with those stupid heads who advocate right to own gun in China.” Netizen wjl龙虎仁丹, on the other hand, thought that this may be the one aspect that the US can learn from China, “They [the US] should learn from us and implement gun control.” 孙英春 agreed, “It’s a good thing that China has always banned the right to own guns. The US should learn from us.”

Some netizens even concluded that China may be a safer place to live given the easy access to guns in the US. Netizen 活的自在点儿 commented: “After all, China feels much safer. Sometimes strict supervision/management can be a kind of protection.” 萧泉山 shared similar views: “US schools will never be safe if US government doesn’t ban guns.” 莺歌燕舞0220 said: “No matter how democratic or free the US is, its loose gun control lead to mass gun shootings again and again. No matter how unfree China is, the ordinary people are relatively safe. Sometimes it feels like that there is nothing to be jealous about American people’s democracy or freedom.”

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