Chinese Views on American Gun Ownership


chinaSMACK.com has an interesting blog post about the reaction of Chinese internet users’ to an article about guns sales at Walmart. Many of the comments are quite reasonable.

One response was …

I’d like to ask the lou zhu a question. It may be very naive but please be so kind as to give me an answer. Since guns are sold like this in America, is their government not afraid of social problems? Right now in Shanghai, the supermarkets selling cooking knives have also locked them inside glass display cases like this.

Another was …

But in China, that is not possible, and the key is that the character of the people [on average] is not there yet. If firearms were available for sale in China, then we’d probably have to wear bullet-proof vests in order to go out.

I think the Chinese sell themselves sort. I have no doubt they are just as sane and capable of self-control as the rest of humanity.

[ Many thanks to Squidpuppy for emailing me the link. ]



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • SpudGun

    (Steve, your 2nd and 3rd quotes are the same)

    As someone who has travelled quite extensively and seen America from within and without, these comments are perfectly understandable.

    It can sometimes be difficult to explain the historical nature of the ‘gun culture’ in the USA and how due to several factors from geography to wildlife to crime and politics, firearms have a definitive and beneficial use.

    I always find the way the rest of the world views America with regards to personal gun ownership as both hypocritical and ignorant. After all, if you came from South Africa and told people you owned several guns because you were worried about dangerous animals, crime, etc., no one would bat an eyelid.

    • SpudGun, thanks, fixed that

  • Slim934

    The fact that most of the world holds to faulty doctrines concerning property rights and the nature of social relations between human beings does not help matters either.

    Many of these people are under the silly assumption that simply trusting their police and their various political thieves with firearms and their safety. This is of course absolutely moronic given that almost universally 1) The police have absolutely no obligation to protect any given human being within their society (this is 100% true in the US, just ask the courts) and 2) in almost all cases the police are heavily shielded legally from repercussions of using their firearms in a stupid manner while on duty.

    The fact that they can hold to the line of reasoning “private firearms ownership bad, state ownership good” while ignoring these obvious incentives to violate rights on the part of police (by shielding them from bad consequences of bad decisions) only proves the extent of their cognitive dissonance.

    It does not surprise me that the chinese hold these views. They have lived so long under an authoritarian rights system that a system more in tune with reciprocal property rights adherence must seem almost totally alien.

  • subase

    Guns are no different than knives or any other weapon. China has mellowed out from their glorious history of warfare, and this is evidenced in their martial arts practice (which is more a spiritual/religious practice than a practical one.) Many chinese carry knives for defence, but view the pistol as some type of superweapon, when the reality is in close encounters a knife is just as deadly.

    More importantly the government In China still has huge wealth inequality and very large criminal networks. The governments job is not to protect it’s citizens but to protect itself as an entity. This means massive firefights and people being shot instead of just stabbed is not good for public moral or for tourists. I think as crime in china grows (aging population, gender imbalance, increasing wealth inequality) we may see more pressure for gun ownership by the wealthy. People in government positions probably already can own a gun. But otherwise it ain’t going to happen, mainly cause the chinese government is so powerful they can to a large extent still keep guns out of both civilian and the criminals hands. (death and lengthy prison sentences just for owning one does that) non lethal means of protection growth will be huge though.

  • and this is why america stands apart from the rest of the world. each citizen is his own king each son and daugher is a prince and princess. we have no locked cast system. we make our success or lose it under our own actions and fortune. god bless america!

  • Jim

    This is just like Jackie Chan stating that China isn’t ready for democracy. China has had its self esteem degraded by the guys on top. I think China is in an abusive relationship with its government and needs to move onto greener pastures.

  • FormerlyHK

    I don’t know about mainland china, but Hong Kong allows people who join a gun club to own firearms, though probably stored at the club.

    Hong Kong Rifle Assoc.: http://www.hkra.com.hk/
    Swiss Rifle Assoc. HK (they hold shoots with the Swiss Army Assault Rifles 57 in HK!): http://www.srahk.com/

  • “I think the Chinese sell themselves sort. I have no doubt they are just as sane and capable of self-control as the rest of humanity.”

    I agree 100%

  • Aurelien

    I think it’s funny, being french, to read this. In France too, most people think that making it easy to procure firearms would make people kill each other, like there is some magical power making you a blood-thirsty serial killer if you own a gun.
    But France wasnt like that until the 1970s, when politics made automatic weapons illegal and the rest heavily controlled.

    Well as a matter of fact, in France law enforcement is bound by law to help those in need (they can be put to trial if not, as can firemen and medical services), but most of the time using their service weapon will mean going to prison and be considered guilty until proven otherwise. That often stops them for making the good decision in a situation of crizis. But that is not the point here.

    I think the chinese point of view is pretty much most of the worlds point of view. Here in France, carrying a gun to protect one’s self against animals does not make sense, as there isn’t really much more of any big animal left.
    As for the self-defense point, protecting one’s family and/or valuables is not allowed. Here you have to wait for the Police to come in and witness the fact that the bad guys killed your family.

    So you got to compare the laws of the country. When you cant protect yourself with you gun, guns are only bought by fanboys and/or competitive shooters.

  • Ryan

    Lets do a small thought experiment. Lets say you transported all 300 million US citizens along with all of our guns, to a small section of China. I would hope that the Chinese Government would be very fearful of us give them some sort of civil unrest. The first time they said my wife had to abort my second son I would perform a late term abortion on the government. As for the civilian on civilian violence it might be a bloody few months before everyone was armed but then Darwinism would quickly push them into forming a polite society.

  • Elle

    If the Chinese citizenry were armed,36 million would have not been killed by their own government(1949-present) and it is doubtful that 38 million would have died during the government produced famine of “the great leap forward” nor that 1000 would have been killed by their government in Tienanmen Square in 1989.

    (figure from RJ Rummel and Courtois,1999 http://www.digitalsurvivors.com/archives/communistbodycount.php)

  • MrMaigo

    Huge Generalization:
    All governments want their people to believe they’re not responsible enough to handle weapons

  • Lance

    The Communist Government always tries to make the people feel so dependent on the regime that any hint of freedom will scare off most brainwashed people. BUT once the regime falls they discover how freedom doesn’t bring destruction but happiness.

  • C3P0

    “Power flows from the barrel of a gun” – Mao Zedong

    ‘Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.’ – Mohandas Gandhi.

    looks like we know where “the leftists” and freedom-loving people of the world stand on usefulness of firearms…

  • subase

    The U.S is an anomaly in regards to gun ownership. I don’t think you can make a country comparison in regards to gun ownership.

    That leaves 2 other forms of gun rights in a nation, the leftist view that thinks guns are bad (this includes any sort of weapon) and the swiss view that owning guns protects against foreign invaders. Seem’s china is part of the former, no surprise.

    But it’s true, a country like China (who doesn’t have all the resources the u.s or first world nations have) would have a harder time controlling it’s population if they could all go out and buy an Ak without issues. But I think that’s a good thing, more drama makes life less boring.

  • uzim16

    Incoming gap so huge over there, many people can’t imagine rich and poor’s life in China. I came from there and settled down in Canada. I really enjoy having guns at home now. But ask my opinion of legalizing gun sale in China…..big no. It’s not about humanity but political problem, economical problem, etc……..

  • Edward

    The point might have been better made with these quotes that were also from the article: namely, the “netizens” view that it was a differing (in a good way) American culture that allows this ‘free’ access to firearms to work.Because the hostility between their people is not as deep as it is with us, which is to say they are harmonious in the true meaning and not river crab. Hehe.(“River crab” in Chinese sounds similar to “harmonious.”)

    The first part of the second quote, that Steve excerpted:I think the American Constitution has a part that says the citizens have the right to overthrow an authoritarian government…it is what I have heard, not sure if it is true or not.Heck:Only with citizens who have high restraint and a society with relatively few injustices would [a country] dare be like this.Although, this one seriously made me LOL:Over time, Americans have developed the habit of not using guns even if they have them. Or maybe they are bound by ideas of individual heroism, believing that men should use fists to fight it out, and not relying on guns.Seriously, read the whole thing before you start accusing “China” of Stockholm syndrome.

  • Edward

    The point might have been better made with these quotes that were also from the article: namely, the “netizens” view that it was a differing (in a good way) American culture that allows this ‘free’ access to firearms to work.Because the hostility between their people is not as deep as it is with us, which is to say they are harmonious in the true meaning and not river crab. Hehe.(“River crab” in Chinese sounds similar to “harmonious.”)

    The first part of the second quote, that Steve excerpted:I think the American Constitution has a part that says the citizens have the right to overthrow an authoritarian government…it is what I have heard, not sure if it is true or not.Heck:Only with citizens who have high restraint and a society with relatively few injustices would [a country] dare be like this.Although, this one seriously made me LOL:Over time, Americans have developed the habit of not using guns even if they have them. Or maybe they are bound by ideas of individual heroism, believing that men should use fists to fight it out, and not relying on guns.Read the whole thing before you start accusing “China” of Stockholm syndrome, or thinking that it’s paranoia about America… the quoted consensus view is actually of it being an American positive.

  • Lance

    I do know you cant own a gun yourself in China BUT there clubs where you can go shoot if you have money to pay memebr ship. The Same in Vietnam where you can shoot a AK-47 for a few bucks. This limets the shooters to the very rich in a poor country like China and Vietnam.

    In more remote regions there reserve milita in China where in armoies Chinese people who are with the governmet are armed with Type 56s ( Chinese clones of the AK47, and SKS45) and police ares too remote for the regular army and poice to guard. They train with there weapons too.

    You have to kiss up to a evil governmet but you can soot in china w/o being in the full time army.

  • Don

    A working police and judicial system is what differentiates the USA / Switzerland and gun ownership with a place like say, Mexico. Simple as that.

  • subase

    The comments in the article bear witness to China’s history. The war of independence by the u.s is peanuts compared to the 500 years of constant warfare it took to bring China under one sovereign rule. It’s no surprise the chinese are unwilling to return to such a state of constant danger and anarchy for the common man. It was in these times that both Taoism and The Art of War were written, the formers philosophy was created, so when your daughters were raped and kidnapped, your belonging stolen and your sons conscripted into the army, you wouldn’t give up on life.

    In anycase Americans as usual overestimate themselves, after being hoodwinked into a war, robbed by both military contractors and the financial sector, a supreme court electing a president, they kicked up no fuss. Same thing in regards to it’s incredibly harmful drug policies and war against the poor with it’s corrupt private prison system. The u.s government is rich and powerful enough to tolerate an ineffective armed citizenry, cause Americans are good at shooting at each other not actually attacking the real people in power. China is unwilling to test whether it’s citizenry is so passive.

  • Sound like the same comments from Americans that live in Large cities like NY or DC. People who aren’t used to guns and believe that guns are magic charms that make people evil.

  • Jim

    “The comments in the article bear witness to China’s history. The war of independence by the u.s is peanuts compared to the 500 years of constant warfare it took to bring China under one sovereign rule. ”

    That’s because China is a massive and diverse place that basic logistics state should not normally be ruled by one power. The USSR spent a long time taking over all of Eastern Europe too, but hindsight shows us that most of Eastern Europe wanted nothing to do with Moscow based rule. The only way a government can extend its rule beyond its normal limits of logistics and culture is through massive brutality, and we have seen China dish that out in spades. China will crack in the same manner as the USSR.

  • charlesa222

    Yeah, when the average Chinese family manages to save on average 40% of their income, I’d say self-control with firearms wouldn’t be too tricky.

  • subase

    Well if China starts cracking it will be of little consequence since they aren’t armed. No government would allow it’s citizens to arm themselves to overthrow the government, it’s ridiculous. The Chinese are patient people, waiting for the government to improve itself in 50-100+ years is not a problem for them. It will probably take that long for a half decent government to take shape given the ugly ultra capitalist, dog eat dog change they going through.

    I wouldn’t hold out for pistols either,l except for the rich and/or connected.

  • subase

    And if you needed any evidence here’s video from China of two guys on a motorcycle who stole someone purse. Looks like a cartoon.

    Now tell me if it would be good if these people had pistols on them. Notice the criminal when surround pulled out a machete, noone flinched.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=06e_1274634022

  • Rewookie

    It is ridiculous to think that any human being is being deprived of a natural right. I own weapons to protect myself and my family. I protect them from common criminals yes but the main reason I own weapons is to protect us from the likes of the encroaching tyranny. No other human has any right to deprive another from having the same level of protection that they themselves posses. Can a group of tigers take away another tiger’s claws? No. It is a natural, God given right to protect yourself, no one should believe anything else. All these people around the world are only afraid of guns or ok with their governments having them and they themselves not because they are like trained monkeys. It is only a matter of time before a government becomes tyrannical and oversteps it’s boundaries. It is the nature of government. Every government. Period. You need only look at history to see this. So they should never accept disarmament until ALL guns are gone from Earth. I will NEVER be disarmed by another human being willingly nor should anyone else.

  • dutchjohnny

    i live in china for 15 years i grew up in holland where weapons and guns are illigal and guns should not be legal in china the people in china kill each other for a parking spot god forbid that they own guns