Now, common citizens look for small arms

Its a pretty old piece which i almost slipped between the news searches and found here but worth the miss :)

7 Dec 2008, 0000 hrs IST, Raja Awasthi & Shantanu Nandan Sharma, ET Bureau


 NEW DELHI: The gruesome images of gunmen roaming the streets of Mumbai with submachine guns and spraying bullets on innocent people have evoked
the most basic instinct in the people of our cities — that of primal fear. Perhaps no wonder then that the doyen of Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan is now sleeping with a gun under his pillow and created quite a stir at Mumbai airport yesterday when he tried to board a domestic flight with a gun in his hand baggage. And like Big B, many other urban dwellers in India, too, are either cleaning their guns and keeping them ready for use or trying to buy licensed revolvers after the terror trauma in Mumbai.

Private arms retailers, who are allowed to sell small arms, including revolvers and pistols to valid licence holders, have received many more enquiries from common citizens in the last few days. Indian citizens, of course, do not have the freedom to just go out and buy their dream guns such as the latest custom engraved Smith & Wesson Model 22 that is selling in the US for $7,500 or other popular models such as Alaska Backpacker, C2-75 or RugerSR9. In fact, there is no fresh supply of guns in the market because of the restrictive policy and ban on imports and private dealers mostly trade in second hand weapons.

Sources in the defence ministry told SundayET that there has already been a 6-8 month-long waiting list for procuring revolvers, pistols, sporting rifles etc. which are currently being sold at the outlets of Indian Ordnance Factories, an unit of the ministry of defence.

In fact, many people don’t mind shelling out over Rs 1 lakh for procuring a weapon for their safety and rush to the private arms retailers for immediate possession. “Some people still prefer to wait, and get items from Indian Ordnance Factories as arms in those shops are reasonably priced, and they have more models. But if someone wants to procure a weapon immediately after getting the licence, they would go to a private retailer. In Delhi itself, there are seven such retail shops from where you can buy a gun,” a defence ministry official said.

Currently, a 0.32 pistol, including a spare magazine, costs Rs 70,000 at the outlet of gun and shell factory at Cossipore in Kolkata. A 0.22 revolver is being sold at Ishapore rifle factory in West Bengal for Rs 40,000. All these outlets come directly under the Indian Ordnance Factories.

The rush to get armed is on among India’s city dwellers as Daljeet Oberoi of NCR-based Hari Singh & Jagjit Singh Gun Shop confirmed that the number of enquiries has increased after the terror attack in Mumbai. “There has been a spurt in inquires for revolvers during the last few days. The government now is not issuing licence very easily, and hence even a genuine buyer will have to wait a bit longer after his initial enquiry,” he said.

As many enquiries are pouring in, some gun retailers now have stopped entertaining customers over the phone, and insist that they visit the shop in person. Devinder Singh, a gun supplier from Meerut added, “There is no doubt that interests shown by potential buyers during the last few days have increased. In many cases, they reveal they fake identities over phone. So, we have stopped entertaining customers over phone and have asked them to visit our shops in person.”

Yet, getting a gun licence in India is not easy even for a celebrity or a politically-connected industrialist. Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni, for example, had recently received an official letter asking him to furnish his ‘character certificate’ to get license for a 9mm pistol. A senior IAS official told SundayET that the policy is still very restrictive. “It all depends on the local sanctioning officer. No time-line is imposed on him though a licence is procured in two to three months time. If the concerned officer rejects an application, he needs to give enough good reason why he has rejected it. This licensing procedure is governed by Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules, 1962,” he said.

Neeraj Thakur, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Delhi, said that companies began to beef up securities after the recent industrial disputes. “In recent time, companies around the country have been beefing up their security, after witnessing a rise in the number of industrial disputes and attacks from anti-social elements. We are trying to create awareness among companies to have state-of-the-art security equipment. Even individuals have begun to show interests in acquiring fire arms for their personal safety. But we would not advise them to go for any drastic measures,” DCP said.

Though SundayET could not get accurate figure on the number of licensed guns in India and those under process, a government source connected to the development, said that the demand for licensed guns in North and West India particularly in and around metro cities such as Delhi and Mumbai is much more than that of South India. “In dacoit-infested areas such as Bundelkhand in UP and Chambal in Madhya Pradesh, there has been a huge demand for single barrel guns. But in bigger cities, there has been a demand for more sophisticated weapons. After the Mumbai incident, I am sure, more people will like to have sophisticated arms for protection,” sources said.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jaivana, world's largest cannon

Ancient Indian Weaponry, Indian History

Ppistol used by Shri Chandra Shekhar Azad