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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Maybe Just a Little Gun Control

From today's NY Times about lawless China:

A schoolboy fight had rekindled an old clan enmity, and hot words led to open preparations for battle. The villagers built earthen ramparts and gun emplacements. They fashioned six-foot cannons from empty gas cylinders and cantaloupe-size projectiles from scrap metal.

Frightened neighbors repeatedly called on the police to head off the looming catastrophe, but for months the Lanshan County authorities did nothing, Ms. Li recalled. Finally the villages began pummeling each other with their crude weapons, shooting hundreds of cannonballs across a half-mile of rice paddies in two daylong battles, one in December 1998 and the second the next month.

Some 12 people were killed and 60 homes destroyed, local residents said. A truce was called only after a misaimed volley hit the wrong village, killing four more including (Ms. Li's) daughter.

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