Gun sales have risen by about 40 per cent since last year | AP
Gun sales have risen by about 40 per cent since last year, according to arms deals in Bangalore. Twelve shops sell arms and ammunition in Bangalore, and those in the trade attribute the rise in demand to the threats faced by real estate businessmen. Women anxious to protect themselves against rape and assault are also investing in weapons.
According to Ashfaq Shariff, who runs Indian Armoury, an arms and ammunition shop in Kailasipalyam, the real estate boom has resulted in extortion and death threats, and many builders and realtors try to arm themselves.
Shariff, also the general secretary of Karnataka Arms and Ammunition Dealers Association, says real estate bosses are worried about protecting land they have acquired, and warding off rivals. Since the Nirbhaya rape case, many women are considering arming themselves. “They are coming forward to buy weapons. With crime against women increasing and IT professionals working odd hours, this was bound to happen,” he told City Express.
A gun now sold is specially designed for women. The Indian Ordnance Factory has named it Nirbheek, after the Delhi rape victim who was referred to as Nirbhaya by the media. The Chandigarh-made .32 calibre revolver is lightweight (500 g) and can fit into a handbag. “It costs `1.22 lakh,” says Shariff.
Gun shops must periodically submit reports of sale and purchase to the commissioner of police. “The procedures are stringent. To buy a gun, a customer needs approval from the commissioner of police. At the district level, it is the district magistrate who decides whether a person is eligible to own a gun,” he says.
Bangaloreans are buying revolvers and pistols, besides air guns and air pistols (which are not as lethal as regular guns and pistols). “Revolvers with a calibre of .32, .22, and .25 calibre are the most in demand,” says Shariff.
Ayazullah Shariff, proprietor of City Gun House in Kailasipalyam, says some people buy guns for recreation.
“They pursue shooting as a sport. But not everybody can apply for a licence for recreational use. They have to sign up at the Karnataka Rifle Association for at least two-three years and to produce a membership card while applying for licence,” he explains.
About 2,000 gun licences are granted in the city every year, and 20-25 guns are sold every year. This translates to a turnover of about `15 lakh to `20 lakh a year.
Not everyone approves of guns as a self-defence weapon. According to Nayan Tejaswi, psychologist, possession of a gun could result in impulsive actions and accidents.
“It makes a man think he is safe, but when he is provoked, an aggressive superiority pattern sets in. If a person did not have a gun, this impulsive behaviour would not have arisen,” he said. Holding a gun could escalate to domestic violence. “When as a couple get into a tiff, there is the threat of the bullet,” he says.
Babu C G, managing director of Creation Shelters, a real estate company, feels secure when he has a gun, but ensures that the bullets and his gun are kept apart, at two different places. “An empty gun is usually enough to scare people. The last option is to go for the bullet,” he says.
Just knowing how to handle a gun is not enough. “Psychological training is essential, too. Look at what is happening because of the gun culture in the US. Despite counselling, shootings are rampant. We don’t even have a well researched anger management concept,” says Kumaresh Vydyanatha, another psychologist.
Women buying guns shows how mortified they are, but it can’t be a widespread practice. “A ‘regular’ college girl or a housewife may not even think of going in for a gun. Our societal structure does not allow that,” he said.
Getting a Gun licence
Guns are used for sport and self-protection. Before buying a gun, training is mandatory. Bangalore has three training centres, at Koramangala, Thanisandra and Mysore Road. The training costs ` 1,800 for seven days, and the fee includes 30 rounds of ammunition.
Applications are available at www.bcp.gov.in, and they must be signed by the local police. The applicant then goes go to the office of the commissioner of police, and provides more details. Police verify the application and send an intimation in about 15 days, following which the applicant can collect the licence. The licence enables the applicant to shop for arms. Pistols and revolvers cost upwards of `85,000. A licence holder gets a maximum of 100 cartridges a year and can buy 25 at a time.
Where Guns come from
Shops procure pistols, revolvers and rifles from the Indian Ordnance Factory in Kolkata. “Only the government has the authority to sell arms. As for sporting double and single barrel guns, the manufacturers are in Bellary,” Shariff, who runs a shop in Kalasipalyam, says. Import of guns has been banned since 1985-86. A gun owner can sell his weapon after obtaining permission from the commissioner of police.
There is a steady rise in women being trained at the shooting range. They are either acquiring knowledge for professional use or for self defence. And one man, associated with the Karnataka Rifle Association is spearheading the drive to encourage them to take up training in shooting to ensure that they are well equipped to tackle ugly situations.