The recent shooting deaths of two Vietnamese officials, allegedly committed by a lone forest ranger in the remote northern province of Yen Bai, have drawn public attention to rising cases of gun violence in the Southeast Asian nation.
One high-ranking lawmaker was quoted by local media as saying during a meeting convened by the parliamentarian Committee on Defense and Security following the deadly shootings that, "there seems to be loopholes in gun control in Vietnam."
While the relevant agencies are still carrying out an investigation into the incident that left three provincial officials dead, including the alleged suspect, his motive has drawn broad conjecture on social media, where people are questioning whether tighter gun control laws could have helped prevent the high-profile tragedy.
Farmer Doan Van Vuon, who was imprisoned for fighting off an eviction squad with homemade guns and mines in 2012, but was released early for good conduct, said the two distinct cases have one thing in common.
"Psychologically speaking, we were pushed to the edge. We had no other choice," Vuon told VOA's Vietnamese Service.
No official statistics are available on the level of gun violence in Vietnam in 2015, but media in the country have widely reported on public shootings. At least two shootings involving police officers made national headlines last week, highlighting what some observers call the country's “loose control of guns for official use.”
"In a society where there is a lack of trust, and morality is low, conflicts might result in extremism," said Vuon, the fish farmer who once was hailed as a hero for rising up against authorities.
Attorney Vo An Don, who offered free defense for low-income defendants in various police abuse trials, told VOA's Vietnamese Service that he feels uneasy while reading reports on recent gun-related violence.
"They created anxiety among the public, and led to social chaos," Don said.
Meanwhile, lawyer Tran Vu Hai, who defended Vuon, said gun control in Vietnam "is not as flawed as some people thought."
"I said so because I do not see a lot of people who own gun, and use gun," the outspoken attorney added. "In comparison with the U.S., it might be one in a thousand respectively."
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit corporation that tracks gun violence in the U.S., over 13,000 people were killed and 25,000 injured in the country by firearms in 2015.
In related news, Vietnamese customs officers at Tan Son Nhat airport last week seized one airsoft gun and 2,000 rounds of ammunition concealed in packages shipped from the U.S.
Airsoft weapons are replica firearms designed to be non-lethal, whose components, however, can easily be refitted with original gun components, making the rifles capable of firing live ammunition, the Voice of Vietnam reported.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Vietnamese Service.