India is Home to Largest Number of Illegal Guns and Resultant Violence
Everybody talks of the gun laws in the USA. But at least the law makers in the USA are honest and have ushered in the second amendment that gives free reign to owning and using guns. In India however the case is different. The Indian arms act of 1959 as amended later is fairly stringent as far as owning guns are concerned. But the arms act is violated with impunity with the result that there are over 40 million unlicensed guns and weapons in India and there number is growing at the rate of 100,000 every year.
The Days of the Raj
The Indians love guns. During the days of the Raj, the British had restricted the issue of gun licenses to ordinary Indians as they feared another mutiny on the lines of 1857. But even at that time many Indians owned guns illegally and used them with impunity like the dacoits of the Chambal and the sandal wood smugglers of South India.
After the departure of the British it was like the flood gates opening and as things stand India is home to the largest number of individual guns and personal firearms in the world, second only to the United States. In another 2 to 3 decades the number of guns owned by Indians will surpass the USA. As far as unlicensed guns are concerned India is the largest repository of them. Out of an estimated 75 million illegal guns in the world, nearly 40 million plus are in India.
Independent India and Illegal Guns
These illegal guns are backed by a thriving arms industry in the states of Utter Pradesh, Bihar and Jammu. The gunsmiths have the latest technical knowhow to produce weapons that are copycats of famous brands like Webley Scott, Smith and Wesson and Germen Luger pistols. These weapons may not be as sophisticated as their western counterparts are concerned, but they serve their purpose as lethal weapons for offense and defence.
The use of Illegal weapons in India has seen the crime graph rising. Cases like the police inspector shot dead by a man whom the inspector had admonished on teasing his daughter in Amritsar are rampant. Guns owners have no compunction in killing police personnel as well. In addition guns are invariably used in marriages to fire volleys of bullets in the air. This is something unique to North India and does not happen even in the USA. These guns used to celebrate wedding often result in deaths of bystanders.
Reasons for Plethora of Illegal Guns
Another reason for the vast number of guns in India is the thriving smuggling racket. Guns of any make from German pistols to the AK 47 are available in the Indian markets. Everybody knows that Ghafoor market in Delhi is home to illegal smuggled electronic goods, but this market is also home to smuggled weapons. It is possible to pick up an imported pistol for Rs 40,000 ($ 800) and a revolver for $500-600. An Ak-47 or 74 is also readily available.
The laxity in implementation of the arms act by the police is another case in point. Rarely is a conviction obtained for owning an illegal gun. In fact one can count the cases of men convicted which is a minuscule of the numbers who own guns.
There is no way out now and the best the Indian government can do is to relax the norms for issuing a licence for a weapon in India. This will at least entail that all guns are registered and the owners can be tracked. The present arms act has failed its purpose and the burgeoning number of illegal guns with corresponding increase in the crime graph does not portent a rosy future.