The gun control legislation in India includes the Arms Act of 1959, which regulates the number of guns in civilian hands. The law is internationally notorious for being one of the strictest gun control laws in the world. Possessing illegal arms in India may attract rigorous punishment of up to 7 years.
To some extent, the law has worked wonders in curbing gun-related violence. In India, firearms are only used in 10% of the homicide cases compared to the 60% rate in the USA where gun control laws are more liberal.
Because of the lenient gun laws enforced in the USA, there have been many instances of mass shootings which have claimed several lives. However, the chances of something like that happening in India are rare. But the possibility cannot be entirely ruled out, partly due to the poor implementation of the gun control laws.
Here are 4 reasons why a stringent gun policy in India has not stopped possession of arms illegally:
1. Corrupt authorities and political connections make it easy for a wrong person to possess a gun
The decision of authorising licenses is at the discretion of corrupt gun licensing authorities which has led to unaccounted firearms in the hands of wrong people with political ties and those who genuinely need them are running from pole to post to no avail.
According to law, licenses are given to individuals who are in the dire need of a weapon to defend themselves from prospective threats. For instance, a farmer will need a gun to protect his crops but it would take a couple of years for a farmer to get his due license. Instead, a less deserving person with political connections may get it in few weeks. Discriminatory execution of the law by bureaucracy defeats the purpose of having such stringent gun laws. It gives an unnecessary advantage to the elite.
2. Atleast 85% of the guns in possession are unlicensed
Guns have restrictive status in India and only a few people under special circumstances are granted licenses to carry guns. The ultimate goal of strict gun control laws in India is to suppress the arms related crimes and violence. But however, as per statistics, India is placed second in the list of countries with the highest number of intentional murders. Due to the loose gun laws, atleast 85% of the guns used in firearms related homicide are unlicensed. Thus, only 15% of the guns in civilian hands are legal rest is illegally owned.
3. Stringent laws make way for acquiring guns through black marketing
Strict gun regulations have made criminals and gangsters resort to illegal market to quench their thirst for guns. Guns imported for military defence purposes from other countries rarely leak in the black market but the prevalence of illicit craft of manufacturing homemade guns is very high in India catering to the growing gun demand. This homemade gun market has grown in size and is capable of duplicating sophisticated automatic and semiautomatic handguns and rifles.
Even though India lacks effective machinery to build its own weapons for military and law enforcement purposes, almost 80% of the guns in the Indian black market are manufactured in India.
4. Small cities are becoming hubs for manufacturing guns
Delhi has become a transit hub for illegal arms trading. Guns are manufactured in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand have flooded the illegal arms market of Delhi and most of the guns find their way into the market without much hassle. Small revered cities like Munger in Bihar are a fantasy destination for anyone craving for an illegal gun. Arms manufactured by Munger craftsmen are used by many terrorist and extremist organisations.
It’s impractical for the police department to guard all the entry points in the city, tips given by an inside mole or police informant is the only option available to the police to bust these culprits but the illegal arms network is more widespread than the reach of the police.