A district court in Taipei on Wednesday ruled not to hear a case involving a botched attempt by the son of television celebrities Sun Peng (孫鵬) and Di Ying (狄鶯) to produce a handgun in the US in early 2018.
Sun An-tso (孫安佐), now 22, was arrested in March 2018 at the age of 18 after threatening to shoot up his school in the US, and was later convicted of making terrorist threats.
In December of that year, the US deported him to Taiwan, where he was in 2020 indicted by prosecutors for his failed attempt at making a handgun in the US.
However, the Shilin District Court said that a failed attempt at making a handgun is not a criminal offense in the US, despite Sun An-tso’s conduct carrying a minimum sentence of three years under the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例).
As the incident did not take place in Taiwan and was not punishable in the US, the court said it would not hear the case, due to the fact that the Criminal Code states that offenses committed outside Taiwan that carry a sentence of less than three years in prison cannot be prosecuted.
The court said that prosecutors indicted Sun An-tso in August 2020 for his attempt to produce a handgun in the US, believing that his conduct in the country constituted an offense under US law.
Sun An-tso had purchased component parts for a handgun online, but failed to produce a firearm with them. His conduct is not punishable under US federal laws or state laws in Pennsylvania, where he attended high school.
The court said that the case is subject to a petition from prosecutors, and prosecutors said that they are studying whether to file a motion against the ruling.
Sun An-tso and his parents did not attend Wednesday’s hearing, but his lawyer said they were delighted with the court’s decision.
On March 26, 2018, Sun An-tso was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats after he threatened to carry out a mass shooting on May 1 at Bonner and Prendergast Catholic High School in Delaware, Pennsylvania.
On June 4 of that year, Sun An-tso pleaded guilty and was sentenced to between four and 23 months in prison, with immediate parole and credit for time served.
On June 5, he was released into the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and later charged with the federal offense of being an alien in possession of ammunition.
On Aug. 28, Sun An-tso entered a guilty plea, and the US federal court ordered that he be removed from the country and permanently barred from re-entering.
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