Air guns have been offered for sale in Ho Chi Minh City and other localities despite the fact that purchasing and owning the items are banned in Vietnam.
The guns are manually made by individuals, mainly for hunting, and cost an average of VND200,000 (US$9) to VND1 million ($46) each, depending on the materials used in the guns.
Some home-made air guns are even sold for around VND10 million ($460).
The ‘air’ used to power the guns is either alcohol burnt in combustion to create energy, or compressed air.
A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper journalist contacted a man named Tinh on April 15 and was told, “I can give you a gun priced from VND200,000 to VND2 million.”
“An alcohol-powered gun has a qualified gunstock worth VND500,000 [$23],” the man said.
“A good gun barrel costs you another VND250,000,” Tinh added.
He said that he could immediately offer a good air gun for VND1 million ($46).
Tinh encouraged the ‘buyer’ to select a good gun barrel because “you need only to shoot three storks to equalize the cost of the barrel.”
The Tuoi Tre reporter contacted another gun seller named L. in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City.
L. brought a bag and rode a motorbike to meet the Tuoi Tre reporter in an industrial park. L. explained that air guns are banned and thus he preferred meeting clients in deserted places to avoid being recognized.
He pulled out a gun with a length of around one meter. The gun featured a 60mm-wide combustion space at the stock, as well as two integrated circuits, like the ones used in a portable mini gas cooker.
He fixed the price at VND350,000 ($16) including 1,000 bullets, which are balls of bicycle ball bearings.
He showed the ‘buyer’ how to use the gun, “You just fill alcohol and gas in the combustion at the stock, charge a ball in the barrel, and shoot.”
The gas used by the home-made guns can be charged by the gas tank used for gas cookers.
Gas used to ignite combustion when pulling the trigger can be replaced by a battery. He said the gun can accurately kill a bird at a distance of longer than ten meters.
To aim more accurately, one can install an optical device worth VND500,000, he said. Each battery can be used for around a month and a small pot of alcohol is enough for 30 shots.
Another ‘gun manufacturer’ in Ward 6 of District 8 told the Tuoi Tre reporter he has built 20 alcohol-powered guns sold in the southern provinces of Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
Lawyer Ha Hai of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association said any kind of gun is only allowed to be manufactured at facilities operated by the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Defense.
Individuals are banned from making and owning guns in Vietnam, he added.