China's top court and procuratorate recently issued a document to clarify the standard of conviction and punishment for imitation-guns cases, a move hailed by Chinese law experts on Wednesday as a big step for rule of law.
The websites of China's Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate on Wednesday said that they have jointly issued a new document, which will be effective on March 30, to deal with the cases involving imitation-guns and lead balls as bullets with a more integrated standard.
"The document responds to the fact that many of cases were convicted due to the bar set too low," Xu Xin, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology's School of Law, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
From 2011 to 2015, authorities prosecuted more than 9,000 cases of illegal manufacturing or trading replica guns or air guns involving more than 80,000 suspects, the People's Daily reported in late November 2017.
To decide whether to pursue criminal responsibility and how to determine the punishment, not only the number of guns involved shall be taken into account, but the facts such as guns' material and lethality, and suspects' purpose to own the guns, amid other factors, posted the document.
"Former convictions were determined merely according to the number of guns and launchers. On the grounds of this new judicial explanation taking into consideration the criminal intent, some suspects could be acquitted," Xu said.
He believes that the document will improve the current situation, but that the essential remedy lies with the definition of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).
In a MPS decree issued in 2010, illegal firearms were defined as guns that are able to fire bullets with a specific kinetic energy of over 1.8 joules per square centimeter.