Chinese student who bought semi-automatic rifles to be deported from U.S.

Society & Culture

As America struggles to make sense of yet another mass shooting — on Tuesday, at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, where three people were reportedly injured — a student from the PRC and a student from Taiwan are both in trouble in the U.S. for gun possession.

Last week, police at the University of Central Florida, where a 26-year-old Chinese student named Sun Wenliang 孙文亮 was enrolled, announced his deportation after reports of “red flag after red flag” about his behavior. The police said that Sun bought two semi-automatic rifles, paid cash for an expensive Corvette, became uncommunicative with classmates, and dyed his black hair blond. He also skipped class — a problem for Sun as an international student, since attendance is critical to maintain a student visa in the U.S.

According to the police at the Orlando school, while Sun made no physical threats to people around him and there was no evidence of Sun’s intention to harm anyone, the accumulation of “red flags” led them to the conclusion that “there was a disaster about to happen.” They felt it necessary to prevent it by deporting the student back to China. Sun is now in custody, waiting to be sent home. He is not allowed to return to the U.S. for 10 years.

Meanwhile, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, An Tso Sun 孙安佐, an 18-year-old exchange student from Taiwan, was arrested after he allegedly told his high school classmates to “not come to school on May 1” because he “was going to shoot up the school.” Though Sun later told his fellow students that he was just kidding, the local police still considered Sun dangerous given the items found at his home: “a military-style ballistic vest, crossbow with scope and light, 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition, military ski mask, ammunition clip loader, a strangulation apparatus known as a garrote.” A second investigation found a Glock pistol, more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition for the Glock as well as ammunition for an AK-47, and AR-15.

On Chinese social media, news about the two students did not spark much discussion about gun violence. Instead, Chinese internet users appeared (in Chinese) to be skeptical about the English coverage of Sun Wenliang’s story, with many questioning the article’s focus on gun possession. “This story is clearly an example of mainstream American media sensationalizing news by associating it with the hot topic of gun control,” a internet user wrote. “This guy was deprived of his student visa because he didn’t attend classes. After he lost his valid status in the U.S., his ownership of arms naturally became illegal. This has nothing to do with gun threats.”

For Sun Anzuo, Weibo users were more intrigued (in Chinese) by his family background — both of his parents are celebrities in Taiwan. The commentary around his family was so overwhelming that one user replied, “Why don’t people talk about gun control, since this news is apparently gun-related?” Another Weibo user wrote, “Gun laws are very strict in China. We have nothing to discuss. But it seems that American people should have an in-depth conversation about this problem.”