Monday, January 28, 2013

Illegal Arms in India

Unlicensed Weapons At a conservative estimate there are over 40 million unlicensed personal hand guns in India and include bores and ranges of all types from the .32 revolver to the AK 47 Kalashnikova. This awesome figure of 40 million means India has almost 60% of all unlicensed guns in the world. This has its repercussions and these guns have now become a status symbol.
a) Ceremonies including marriages and birthdays mark the use of guns by the participants by firing hundreds of bullets in the air. This is particularly rife in the states of Bihar, UP, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. These indiscriminate firings result in tens of people being shot dead accidentally during these ‘celebrations’ b) The use of personal handguns to settle personal scores is rampant. Tens of incidents from the killing of police men and rivals, both political and business are rampant. Men are apt to pull the trigger at the most minor pretext. It’s really frightening. c) Large numbers of dacoits and terrorists stalk the countryside and all of them carry sophisticated weapons. The rule of law is just not there as Islamic Jihadists, Naxalites, Maoists and tribal gangs wreak a terrible revenge on the Indian state. The Arms Act The British had enacted the Indian arms act. It is restrictive in nature and getting a legal licence for a weapon for a civilian is herculean task. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that people go in for unlicensed guns. India has a thriving arms manufacturing industry at the village level. All over the country these gunsmiths churn out guns by the thousands, with the result that a local handmade pistol or revolver is available for as low a price as Rs 2000( $40). There is also a thriving smuggling racket that brings into the country the most sophisticated guns like the Kalashinakov and the Luger pistol to the self ejecting shot gun and Webley Scott.
Last Word India has become a wild west. This is not an understatement. The arms act cannot be enforced now as the genie has come out of the bottle. What is the solution? There is only one and that is to liberalize the arms act like in the USA and licence all guns. This will have an advantage of registering all guns and the police could crack down on owners. Till that occurs, the arms market will continue to thrive and killings and use of weapons to settle personal scores will go on. It’s a vicious cycle and one wonders whether it will ever be broken