A young Chinese man from Fujian province was sentenced to life in prison for purchasing several toy guns from an online retailer.
Liu Dawei was just 18 years old when he reportedly ordered 24 toy guns from a Taiwanese website back in 2014, according to Shanghaiist.
After spending 30,540 RMB, or $4,600, for the purchase of the toy guns, he waited for his package to arrive at his home in Quanzhou, but it never came. It turns out, the Chinese authorities had already intercepted the fake firearms, resulting to Liu Dawei’s arrest two months later.
According to the police, 20 of the 24 supposed “replica guns” were allegedly real guns. He was later charged with arms trafficking.
A judge in Fujian province sentenced Liu one year later to life imprisonment. Smuggling arms in China can land an offender a minimum of seven years in prison. Serious offenders can get life imprisonment or the death penalty.
The judge, who thought smuggling 20 guns warranted the death penalty, considered Liu’s age when he made the purchase and lowered the sentence to life in prison instead of death.
Surprised by the verdict, Liu shouted at the judge, saying, “Please shoot me dead with the guns I bought! If I die, I’ll admit I’m guilty.”
During the trial, Liu’s lawyer had argued that China’s definition of what is a “real” gun is simply too strict and nonsensical.
In Chinese law, any weapon with a barrel that can fire a projectile at 1.8 joules/cm² can be classified as a real gun. The lawyer explained that the classification is hugely flawed as it is roughly the same speed that a something can be thrown into someone’s face.
In comparison, Hong Kong’s standard is at 7.077 joules/cm², while in Taiwan it’s 20 kilograms/cm². It was previously 16 j/cm² in mainland China.
According to Liu, he was not aware of such law and was under the assumption that he was merely buying a type of toy.
The case is currently undergoing an appeal at the Fujian Higher People’s Court. Local experts have stated that China needs reevaluate its standards for judging what a real gun actually is.