Did you know that India observed the third-highest firearm-related deaths in the world? According to the IMHE census, India alone had reported 26,500 firearm-related deaths in 2016. The gun debate in India is often termed as “perennial”; whether one should have the right to own a gun or not.
Despite the amendment and imposition of The Arms Act, a plethora of public owns a firearm illegally across India. As of 2016, there are 3,369,444 firearm permits active in India with 9,700,000 firearms registered to them. As per Small Arms Survey, there are 61,401,000 illegal firearms in India with Uttar Pradesh topping the chart.
The statistics speak for themselves, however, the question is perpetual- “who actually can own a gun and how can they get it?”. First and foremost, a civilian need to be a minimum of 21 years old and an application form needs to be filled out which questions your past criminal behaviour if at all you have had any. A gun can only be given on three conditions i.e., for crop protection, for sports, and for self-defense. For a self-defense license, the commoner must prove an impending threat to life otherwise the license is outlawed.
Since possessing a gun in India is a prerogative and not a right, the government holds the power to seize such weapons at any given point of time. To own a gun in India means having to go through a lengthy procedure because the rules have become stern over the years. However, despite having one of the strictest gun control laws in the world, a vestige of British colonial dominion, approximately 86% of private firearms in the country are illegally sourced. There are nearby 0.3-gun homicides per 1,00,000 people in India every year. Approximately 90% of them are committed by using illegal guns.
Owing to the surge in gun-related crimes, the laws have become stricter now. Prospective gun proprietors will have to prove that they have been trained, and they must carry their firearms only in holders and secure them in a knocked down condition at home. While many opposed these laws passed by the government, some were in favour of them.
Well, if you may ask us, there is only one question that arises in our mind - Do guns kill people or do people kill people? One side believes that guns are a menace to public safety, while the other believes that they are an imperative tool of self-preservation. The gun laws need to include stricter checks and persecution for those involved with illegal firearms.
The basis of this entire discussion could be well understood by the recent events in the USA. There has been a rampant surge in gun violence across the nation despite more reliable logistics, a robust administration, and better performance of various state and federal law agencies. Additionally, keeping in mind the colonial state of Indian Police and Administration, the gun laws need stricter implementation and regulation especially when it comes to illegal firearms which are the main cause of menace in the society.
The right to own a gun is an individual right and a person should have the freedom to own a gun if a threat approaches, but state scrutiny is equally important to see whether the threat is genuine and whether the firearm is being used for self-defense and not to commit a crime. Additionally, our gun laws need to include stricter checks and persecution for those involved with illegal firearms.