Gun culture is playing havoc with society - The New Indian Express

Gun culture is playing havoc with society

Published: 23rd November 2012 12:00 AM

Last Updated: 22nd November 2012 11:22 PM

Taking suo motu cognisance of the Ponty Chadha incident in which the liquor baron and his estranged brother Hardeep Chadha were both shot dead in a Delhi farmhouse shootout, the Supreme Court has sought an explanation from the Centre about the norms for issuing gun licences to private security persons and how agencies engaging them are being regulated. This is a timely and worthy move considering that private security agencies are mushrooming all over the country, and there is a dire need to regulate them lest we fall prey to a gun culture. In the case in question on November 17, 40 rounds were unloaded and 20 bullets recovered from the bodies of the two brothers. Twelve weapons, which included an impressive collection of AK-47s, two licensed pistols, a 9mm carbine — were recovered from the scene of crime. It was almost as if a small army was on the move.

The hard reality is that especially in a city like Delhi/NCR there is lot of black money — a fact reflected in the rising property prices. Much of the payment is in black. This means a lot of ill-gotten money changes hands. It is people with black money who need weapons. Another tragedy is that people in India have begun to use guns as a status symbol. While the gun licensing regime in India (regulated by the Arms Act, 1959) is very stringent, a thriving illegal weapons market has meant that India is home to roughly 40 million civilian-owned firearms. Of these only 6.3 million are licensed. Around 90 per cent of firearm-related murders are committed using unlicensed guns.

The Centre had promulgated the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005 and left it to the states to enact their own Acts keeping in mind the central Act, but not many states have done so. The enforcement of law is weak and this needs to change. The Centre must discuss the issue with the states and bring out a regulatory framework against misuse of private security agencies.

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