The dastardly terrorist attack on Mumbai last week (once again) exposed how strict gun control laws directly help criminals target law abiding citizens with impunity. The terrorists came to Mumbai armed not only with AK-47’s, grenades and bombs, but also with the knowledge that they could safely expect no armed resistance from the citizens of Mumbai!
Successive Indian governments have put in place legislation and policy measures that have ensured that terrorists have as safe a work environment as possible. Our own elected representatives have been looking out for the interests of the bad guys! The long standing government policy has been one of limiting gun ownership through a tight arms licensing regime combined with industrial & import policies that ensure that (legal) arms & ammunition are stupendously expensive and thus out of reach for most.
A used handgun that retails for under US$ 700 (new) in USA, ends up costing up to US$ 6,000 or even more in India (prices upwards of US$ 20,000 are not unheard of, and these are ordinary handguns not collectors pieces). Mind boggling? It gets worse, even if you manage that elusive arms license and fork out more than 10 or 20 times the original price for a 20 year (or more) old handgun, you have to contend with ammunition purchase limits. The limit most commonly imposed on arms licenses is 25/50 i.e., you can purchase 25 rounds at a time, subject to a maximum of 50 in a calendar year… this is what the government considers more than adequate for you to prepare yourself for a “self-defence” situation. Of course there is also the small matter of where you would practice your skills, shooting ranges being few and far between and where they do exist, membership is required more often than not… many a times a cumbersome process in itself… not that ammunition is exactly cheap in India, but if you can swing an arms license and also afford to pay so much money for an ordinary .32 calibre handgun, I’m assuming you are loaded to begin with!
A death toll of 188 (expected to rise further) and many times more injured. All this mayhem perpetuated by only a handful of terrorists! can we afford to ignore the writing on the wall? Can anyone contest the fact that, if even a small percentage of their victims had been armed & prepared – the terrorists would have been stopped much earlier and the death count would have been substantially lower? It is high time the Indian public demands that it no longer be denied one of the most basic human rights – the right to self-defence.