Illegal E-Commerce: Buying Guns Online in China is Apparently Pretty Easy

Like many of our readers, I was intrigued by my colleague Enricko's recent post on an Indonesian e-commerce site selling guns online. I have often seen it said that it's equally easy to find guns online in China, despite the fact that guns are not legal for citizens to own. But is that really the case? I decided to test things for myself, and set out on a quest to buy a gun online in China. (Of course, I never really planned to actually purchase a gun; that would be illegal and stupid. But I wanted to see how far I could get).

I started out the same way any Chinese net user probably would: I searched for "where to buy guns" on Baidu. The results were disappointing. Even after spending a lot of time filtering through pages of results and playing with the search terms, I hadn't found anything all that promising. In fact, the only leads I found were sketchy BBS threads about where to buy guns that often ended with a QQ number and a (probably fake) name. Still, it was better than nothing, so I registered a new QQ account (using a throwaway email) and added some supposed gun-runners to my friends list.

While I wanted for those reputable gentlemen to get back to me on QQ, I figured I'd try a Google search. Most gun-related Baidu searches had resulted in a disclaimer that in accordance with Chinese law, some of the search results had been hidden. I figured those were probably exactly the results I was looking for, and probably wouldn't hide them. I was right. Immediately I found much more thorough BBS posts with phone numbers, gun models, and price lists. I even found an ecommerce site called QiangAK ("Gun AK") that appears to sell real guns and bullets in addition to its more prominently-advertised Airsoft guns. It was hard to be sure if they were for real, though, so I added that shopkeep to my QQ list too.

I didn't get any response at all from the supposed gun sellers I found via Baidu, but the guy behind QiangAK did get back to me, and informed me that guns like the one pictured above are both real and very much for sale. As he pointed out, they're marked as "military-use" guns, but I can't imagine the Chinese military really buys its weapons from this site, or that it encourages officers to buy extra weapons on the side. Moreover, he didn't seem to care whether or not I was in the military -- he was just pointing out that all the guns marked "military use" were real guns, as opposed to airsoft guns. Not wanting to actually commit any crimes, I didn't attempt to buy any guns, but it certainly felt like I could have.

When I began research for this post, I was imagining it as a piece that would debunk the idea that guns are easy to buy online in China. But my experience seems to indicate that it really is pretty easy to find guns to buy. If a non-native Chinese speaker who knows nothing about guns like me was able to find all of this stuff in just a few hours, it's hard to imagine Chinese people having much trouble with it.

Of course, there's a big difference between finding somebody willing to sell a gun and actually buying one. For all I know, the guy behind QiangAK is really an undercover cop who would have tried to arrest me if I had attempted to go through with buying a gun. Or maybe he would have insisted I provide proof of a military or police ID. Maybe buying guns isn't as easy as it looks. But I can't shake the feeling that if I could find a gun seller online with search engines and just a few hours, a dedicated Chinese web user wouldn't have much trouble finding a seller online.

Thankfully, it seems that the vast majority of China's web users aren't trying to buy guns in the first place. Privately-owned guns remain quite rare in China, and sketchy online gun sellers are probably filling a small niche selling guns to organized crime rather than loading up the average Zhou for a rampage.

Still, it's interesting that on China's heavily controlled internet, finding guns was so easy. Using just Baidu and Google, I was able to find links to gun sellers. I get the feeling that if I had been searching for something political like "Tiananmen 1989" instead of "real guns," I might actually have had a harder time finding what I was looking for.

The post Illegal E-Commerce: Buying Guns Online in China is Apparently Pretty Easy appeared first on Tech in Asia.

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. She was responding to questions raised by former senior police officer and now Rep. Samuel Pagdilao of party-list …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

  • ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’
    ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’

    Conflict in the South China Sea can affect economic growth and stability in Southeast Asia, New Zealand warned yesterday, amid China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters. New Zealand is marking its 40 th year of diplomatic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hopes to intensify trade and other linkages with the 10-member grouping. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims with China over the Spratly …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options