Legalising Guns; Would it reduce the trend of violence and murder

Rajiv Theodore
Fri, 17-12-2021 07:20:30 PM ;

India records the second highest number of murders in the world every year. With a youth bulge, large unemployed male population, chaotic urbanisation and increasing drug abuse, India is a ticking time-bomb of everyday violence. Though terrorism dominates all media coverage and public debates on violence in India, the chances of a citizen being a victim of homicide are much higher, according to a “murder map”. In the interactive map, which shows the countries where people are most likely to be murdered, India is in the dangerous zone. But the issue is hardly discussed in the media and by policymakers in India. The country also has a track record of data collection and under-reporting of crimes by the police. Suppressing crimes is an exalted art form practiced as a matter of reflex in our police stations.  Tens of thousands of Indians are killed in everyday casual violence with intimate partners or between youths who are inimical to each other. This kind of violence doesn’t hit the national headlines, but it does follow a pattern that makes India a dangerous country.  In such an alarming scenario, compliant Indian citizens are left defenceless and at the mercy of armed criminals. Legalising use of guns could go a long way in stopping this trend of violence and murder.

The idea of ordinary citizens carrying weapons is plausible in some nations as this right has been granted in countries like the United States through the Second Amendment of the Constitution. In the United States, citizens are allowed to carry arms to defend themselves as private militia is permitted to exist. However, the right has been restricted by ‘gun control legislations’, which restrict the right with respect to some places or persons. On the other hand, in India, it is not recognised as a constitutional right. The Arms Act places numerous impediments with respect to possession of arms as mentioned before in the article.

India has in fact tightened its firearms regulations, making it even more difficult for common citizens to own a gun. India already had one of the strictest gun laws in the world, a vestige of British colonial rule, which aimed to disarm its subjects. Indian law allows citizens to own and carry guns, but it is not a right enshrined in the constitution and getting a gun license in India is a difficult task that can take years. Under the rules prospective gun owners will have to show they have been trained, only carry firearms in holders and secure them in a "knocked down" condition in gun lockers at home.

The Indian scenario regarding the right to bear arms is completely different from the  US. It has not been given the protection of the Indian Constitution. Right to bear arms is regulated by the Arms Act 1959. The basic objective behind the act is to consolidate, regulate and amend the laws in India relating to arms and ammunition to stop the circulation of illegal weapons and crimes using these illegal weapons. According to this legislation, no person should acquire or possess or bear any arms or ammunition unless the person has a license which has been issued in accordance with the provisions of this Act. The Act defines various terms such as possession, acquisition, sale, import, export and manufacture. It mentions the rules and regulations attached to these terms

The benefits of the right to carry guns far outweigh the negatives. On the other hand, banning guns to reduce crime makes as much sense as banning alcohol to reduce drunk driving. Indeed, persuasive evidence shows that civilian gun ownership can be a powerful deterrent to crime. Tens of thousands of Indians are killed in everyday casual violence with intimate partners or between youths who are inimical to each other. This kind of violence doesn’t hit the national headlines, but it does follow a pattern that makes India a dangerous country.

Gun control has little impact on the suicide rate. People who want to commit suicide can find many alternatives. Japan, for example, has strict gun control and a suicide rate is twice the U.S. level. Guns are dangerous, but hardly as dangerous as gun control advocates contend. The average motor vehicle is 12 times more likely to cause a death than the average firearm. It is almost impossible for a law-abiding person to obtain or keep a gun, thanks to severe laws diligently enforced by a stern police force. Yet criminals, who care nothing for laws, can and do easily obtain guns and ammunition - which they use with increasing frequency. One thing is for certain. It is not because tighter gun laws mean less gun crime. The more fiercely we have restricted private gun ownership in this country, the more armed crime there has been and the more the police have had to strap on holsters.

What should we learn from this? First, that criminals feel safer and more powerful when they know they are likely to face an un- armed resistance. For e.g., in the US many types of crime fell sharply in districts where law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry concealed weapons. This was especially helpful to women in urban India too where eve teasing, and other crimes are rampant. The chance that they might have a gun in their handbags transformed them from being easy victims to tough propositions. For the first time, however, the government has allowed citizens to have licensed electronic disabling devices such as taser guns -- a step many say will boost women's safety. After the fatal gang rape of a young student in a moving bus in 2012, women have begun carrying pepper spray in their purses and learning martial arts. After scores of fatal gang rapes of women in India they have begun carrying pepper spray in their purses and learning martial arts. The government even introduced a lighter gun for women. This  lightweight . 32-caliber revolver  called, “Nirbheek,” which means fearless in Hindi, weighs just 500 grams and is the first handgun made of titanium alloy.

Given the above arguments to allow open gun licensing there is also this basic premise that every citizen has the inherent right to defend themselves. But this right to defend by an individual, by use of guns was taken over by the state via its police force. Since in many instances the police forces are unable to protect, then the right to bear arms must be given to the citizen. In most cases a compliant citizen is left defenceless against an armed criminal. The right to use guns will however not dilute other provisions of the criminal law and would thus be subject to limitations. Also, a person with a criminal record will be barred from carrying arms. On the whole, such a scenario of a citizen’s ability to carry arms  will go a long way in establishing a more confident society.