Back in March, here we are again, 18-year-old Taiwanese exchange student An Tso Sun was arrested for allegedly plotting a school against Monsignor Bonner High School outside of Philadelphia. When he was initially arrested, police in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, say they had found a ski mask, a crossbow, a tactical vest, a few thousand rounds of various types of ammunition and a garrote. They then later announced that they had found a 9mm semi-automatic pistol that Sun had allegedly built from parts that he purchased separately. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Sun allegedly told a classmate he planned to shoot up the school on May 1st and warned the student not to come to school that day. There is also a video of someone said to be Sun using a flamethrower, that I can only imagine was probably homemade. Sun’s attorney is claiming Sun is unfamiliar with our strange American ways and this was only intended as a joke and his client has an interest in law enforcement. If he’s so unfamiliar with our ways, then why is he using the most common excuse plotters give when they’re caught? It also turns out Sun’s mother is some kind of celebrity in Taiwan and has said her son made the threat as a joke and the gun police found was only a prop. Well, it’s nice to see that ‘Not My Kid Syndrome’ isn’t exclusively American.
Now getting back to the gun, in my opinion, his willingness to assemble a gun from parts shows his willingness and methodical dedication to committing a school shooting. However, this is not a new way to obtain a gun while circumventing background checks. According to this post from a criminal defense website, ghost guns can be made with untraceable parts if you know where to get them. If I had to hazard a guess where Sun may have gotten the majority of his parts I would probably say that it was Armslist, the so-called craigslist of guns. Again, you can read more about Armslist here.
If the fact that an 18-year-old non-citizen can fashion a gun in such a manner that it flies totally under the radar doesn’t make you realize the gun laws in our country are severely lacking, then you’re not paying close enough attention.
UPDATE 6/4/2018: Sun was sentenced to 4 to 23 months in Delaware County prison. Once he’s released from prison he will be deported back to Taiwan.
UPDATE 8/24/2020: Sun was indicted by authorities in Taiwan on a charge of the illegal manufacture of a firearm.