Buying illicit ‘self-defense’ weapons is child’s play in Ho Chi Minh City
A seller offers a set of stun guns to a customer in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City. The weapon that Nguyen Cao Nhan used to steal a man’s motorbike is seen in the left-corner photo. Tuoi Tre
A wide variety of personal defense weapons are being offered at low prices online, attracting a lot of buyers.
Thanh Tu, the 24-year-old owner of one self-defense shop in the southern hub, is a prominent seller of these types of objects.
Tu often promotes his products online at a cost of between VND450,000 (US$20) and VND1.8 million ($80), using video clips showing how the weapons work in different situations.
In December 2016, one customer asked to directly browse the equipment at Tu’s shop, but it was an offer that he turned down.
Tu said that he would only deliver the products to his customers, ensuring that his products were always in good condition.
Regarding the legitimacy of the weapons, he boasted that his electric tasers have a design similar to regular flashlights, making it difficult for authorities to tell the difference.
“Even if you get caught, the worst thing that can happen is that it gets confiscated,” Tu explained.
Aside from tasers, he also sells electric guns, handcuffs, body armor, and several kinds of pepper spray.
An investigation by (Youth) newspaper revealed that Tu began his business in April 2016.
He claimed that he sells his products to over 15 customers in Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces on a daily basis, and that about 40 percent of his buyers were women.
Another notorious seller of self-defense weapons in the city is a man identified only as Nam.
A buyer named Hung recently contacted Nam and was told to meet him at a pre-arranged spot in Phu Nhuan District.
There, Nam revealed a stun gun about 20 centimeters long along with three bullets, all of which cost VND2.5 million ($110).
Extra ammunition costs approximately VND175,000 ($8) per pack.
Nam demonstrated how the weapon worked, asserting that the gun was very efficient thanks to its high range and strong electric current.
According to an official from the municipal Department of Police, citizens are not allowed to purchase weapons, even if they are for self-defense.
Civilians who trade, transport, and store weapons such as stun guns, tasers, and pepper sprays without a permit could be fined from VND10 million ($440) to VND20 million ($880), said Nguyen Duc Danh, a member of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association.
Despite this, residents continue to act against the law in order to protect themselves.
Thanh and her husband from the southern province of Binh Duong said that they had bought a taser flashlight for VND550,000 ($24), as they often travel at night for their jobs.
Toan, another Ho Chi Minh city resident, owns a similar weapon, considering it useful protection for his long daily journey to work.
Unfortunately, these types of self-defense weapons are not always used for good, with many criminals utilizing them in crimes against civillians.
Police records show that in July 2016, officers in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City arrested Nguyen Cao Nhan, 23, for firing a stun gun at a man in order to steal his motorbike.
Nhan claimed he had bought the gun and five bullets online for VND3 million ($132).