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Black Market Guns -- Lessons from Hong Kong

by Angel Shamaya

Hong Kong has some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the world. Gun smugglers can expect to be executed for their trade. Possession of a gun can get you imprisoned for life, or simply killed. It's a police state; only the police and criminals have guns.

Fortunately, unlike some other countries, Hong Kong's press doesn't try to hide the fact that plenty of guns are smuggled into the country. In Living in the Shadow of the Gun (July 3, 2001, Hong Kong iMail Newspapers), Lara Wozniak, reveals with candor just how bad the Hong Kong black market gun problem truly is. While she says people pay as much as $5000 for an illegal firearm there, she explains that "you might not have to even spend a $10 coin on a gun if you are purchasing a big drug shipment."  A tenspot for a criminal, while lawful citizens face lengthy jail terms or a bullet in the head if they are caught possessing a gun for defense against Hong Kong's brazen underworld thugs.

The police admit partial ignorance as to how banned guns are coming into the country.  Said one official, a specialist in the field who for security purposes would not give his name, "If we knew that, we'd shut them down."  Indeed.  Rather reminiscent of the American cocaine trade, wouldn't you say?  Supply meets demand, and a few people get killed in the process -- as collateral damage, to bring a product to the marketplace.

Why don't they just tighten up border checks?  Put a stop to the illegal smuggling of guns?

"Vince Pinto of Selpro Limited, a Hong Kong-based importer and dealer of law enforcement products, said smuggling, in its various forms was virtually impossible to stop. No law enforcement agency anywhere in the world has the resources to conduct 100 per cent checks on every single person, container, ship, aircraft, car or goods vehicles..."

But why don't they just create extreme penalties for smuggling?  According to Mrs. Wozniak's report, a smuggler named Cheung Tze-keung was executed in 1998, "for the smuggling."  That's rather extreme as far as penalties go, yet Hong Kong's gun-related crimes are reportedly increasing, according to Mr. Pinto.  "It would seem we are witnessing an increase in such crimes at the present time. However, I believe it is premature to say whether this will be a sustained increase or merely a temporary blip on the screen," he said.

The Law of Supply and Demand will answer that question for Mr. Pinto.  If his best anti-smuggling task forces cannot put an end to illegal drugs coming into the country, they cannot stop the guns in the same crates.

What kind of guns are making it into the place where gun possession can produce "death by government"?

"Two shots were fired from a Black Star pistol last week during the $1 million Mong Kok jewelry heist. A Black Star was also used in the May 22 shooting of two policemen during an anti-burglary operation also in Mong Kok."

"But other weapons, such as vintage American-made firearms from the Vietnam War, enter Hong Kong as part of drug shipments from Vietnam. And Russian-made revolvers and bombs are smuggled into the SAR via organised crime groups in Macau and the mainland who have access to the weaponry from China's borders with Russia."

People in America who call for bans on guns are in essence saying that they only want the police and criminals to possess guns. Many of them will not even address the black market issue, because it points to the flaw in their anti-gun utopian vision.

If a person in Hong Kong chooses to violate the laws by possessing a firearm for self-defense, he's wise to attach an illegal silencer to it, as well.  If he ever needs to use it to protect himself and his family and his neighbors hear a shot ring out, he may escape "death by bad guy," but more guns will be arriving shortly -- and they'll have committed, anti-gun government agents attached to them.

Meanwhile, here in America, if armed and dangerous repeat violent felons break into our homes at 3am -- and come at us with tire irons, to reduce the threat of being stopped in their bids to rape our little girls -- we can dispatch them, clean up the mess, answer a few questions and go on to work the next day.

God bless America.

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Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. George Bernard Shaw

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