Homemade guns illegal but popular with hunters in Vietnam

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Two gunmakers with weapons police found at their house in Vinh Long Province. Photos By Thanh Duc

It takes just a couple of plastic and aluminum tubes to make a gun in Vietnam, a weapon used for hunting rats and birds but deadly nevertheless.

The guns, which shoot iron pellets, are used widely in the Mekong Delta, with the police saying they are similar to airguns that are banned in the country.

A Vinh Long Province local said young men in the area have been using the guns for many months now.

They are made by a local man who sells them for VND400,000 (US$19) apiece, he said.

"Its range is no different from that of airguns."

Users said the guns can be fired using compressed air and can hit a target around 40 meters away.

The local police said it is hard to tell if someone is going out to hunt or just carrying plumbing materials.

They have seized mroe than 200 guns in the area since March and publicly shamed two gunmakers, Huynh Minh Tien, 20, and Le Minh Thuan, 28.

Police in delta city Can Tho have also seized more than 60 handmade guns since March, while more than 70 were seized in Dong Thap Province and 17 in Hau Giang.

The trading and use of weapons are illegal in Vietnam, but a thriving black market exists, fueling the production of homemade guns that cost less than contraband smuggled in from abroad.

Their use is widespread and often results in fatalities as hunters accidentally shoot people.

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