India, the land of nonviolence, is no more a gun-shy nation as the country is now second in gun ownership in the world with more than 40 million guns. Rising incomes have made high-end weapons a new form of bling in the traditional peace-loving nation and the bitter memories of never-ending terrorist/Maoist attacks warrant them to be armed, writes Mark Magnier of Los Angeles Times.
Indians seems to have left the idea of nonviolence long back and are increasingly worried about their security in this era of violence. “This forgiveness-peace idea will only make Pakistanis think we’re soft targets. All that Gandhi stuff is for tourists,” the article quoted, Raja K.S. Sidhu, a native of north India who owns a Luger, a German World War II-era pistol.
Acquiring a gun license is not so easy in India; however, regardless the strict controls on weapons, Indian own nearly 40 million (4 Crores) guns, second highest in the world after United States which owns around 270 million guns. While the number does look big for India where the gun culture has never been so profoundly prevalent as in U.S., the rate of private gun ownership in India is just 3.36 firearms per 100 people in India while its 88.8 in the United States. The number of guns should be seen in the context of the population in each country and the rate of guns per population in India and China (which also has around 40 million guns) is not alarming at all. According to gunpolicy.org, Pakistan has around 18, 000,000 guns, Russia 12, 750,000, United Kingdom 4,060,000 and Australia has 3,050,000 guns. Though India is ranked second in 178 countries in the number of privately owned guns, the disparity is quite evident in the fact that the country is ranked at 110 in a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership.
Shockingly, out of 40 million guns in the country, only 6,300,000 are registered guns and the rate of registered firearms per 100 people in India is 0.53. It’s practically impossible to count the exact number of unlawfully held guns; however, estimates suggest that there are around 33,700,000 nonregistered guns in India, which is 2.83 illicit firearms per 100 people.
According to the data provided by India’s National Crimes Records Bureau, there were around 80,000 violations of Arms Act in 2009 such as making and transporting illegal weapons, which is an 8 percent increase from 2007, Magnier writes. While there is an increase in the number of Indians buying firearms, most of homicides in the country remains to involve knives and other weapons, and guns account for just 14 percent of killings. Comparing the rate of violence in India and the United States, the homicides rate is 2.78 per 100,000 people in India while its 4.96 per 100,000 in the U.S.
Only a valid licensee is permitted to manufacture small arms, ammunition or related components in India and the country is ranked ‘medium’ in a classification of the world’s small, medium and major firearm manufacturers, reveals gunpolicy.org. However, the prevalence of illegal ‘home-made’ firearm manufacture is very high in India. The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from India is reported to be at $12,851,45923. India is categorized as minor in a comparison made of the world’s major/mid-level/minor/unknown small arms exporters.
The gun lovers in the country demand that people needs better access to firearms for its low police-to-population ratio (142.69 police personnel for every 1 lakh population), one of world’s worst.
- You: Gun culture spreads in India (latimes.com)
- ‘High-End Weapons a New Form of Bling’ in India [Guns] (gawker.com)