Fri, Jul 09, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet reviewing draft amendments to tighten gun law

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet is considering pressing for tighter gun-control regulations following violent incidents such as the March 19 shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

According to a Cabinet official who asked not to be identified, the Cabinet is scheduled to review the draft amendments to the Statute Regulating Firearms, Ammunition, Knives and Other Deadly Weapons (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例) today. The proposed changes would increase penalties for those possessing homemade or remodeled firearms -- or even toy guns.

On June 18, Premier Yu Shyi-kun requested government agencies to present to the Cabinet within a week their proposals for strategies to crack down on gangsters and illegal possession of firearms.

His request followed a police shootout with suspected kidnappers in Taichung on June 16 that left two police officers dead. In the election-eve shooting, Chen was gashed across the stomach and Lu was wounded in the knee by bullets fired from a homemade handgun.

In addition to proposing the draft amendments, the Ministry of the Interior also started a three-month amnesty starting July 1 for those holding illegal firearms to hand in the wea-pons to authorities without being charged.

As of July 5, police nationwide have arrested 92 people suspected of being involved in 71 cases of illegal possession of firearms and have cracked down on three criminal groups, as well as taking into custody two people suspected of involvement in a shooting.

The crackdown has resulted in solving 130 outstanding criminal cases, with a total of 145 suspects detained as well as 105 illegal guns and 326 bullets seized.

The draft amendments would impose sentences of up to life imprisonment to those manufacturing, selling or transporting firearms or remade firearms. Under the current law, those manufacturing, selling or transporting firearms are subject to prison terms of up to five years and fines of up to NT$10 million.

Those intentionally using or providing firearms to others for criminal purposes are subject to sentences of up to seven years in prison and fines of up to NT$10 million.

The Cabinet is also considering revoking an article punishing career or elected civil servants who fabricate evidence in order to falsely accuse others of manufacturing, sell-ing, transporting, possessing, hiding, loaning or transferring ownership of firearms, ammunition or deadly weapons.

The draft would also extend the regulations to toy guns. Under the draft, law enforcement officers would be authorized to conduct inspections in toy stores.

Government agencies concerned should make public a list of toy guns with external features, color, structure, materials and firing mechanisms similar to those of real guns. Possessors of such toys would be required to report to authorities.

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