Is procuring a gun that difficult? Not quite it seems. The recent arrest of three Osmania University students for possessing illegal arms settles the debate to some extent. But when it comes to issuing gun licences, the Hyderabad Police is fairly conservative.
However, even by their conservative stats, it appears that more and more number of people, including a few women, in the twin cities are queuing up to get a licence.
Half of the applications are usually rejected since most seek a gun licence just to flaunt as a status symbol.
According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat, about 50 people apply for a licence every month and of them, 20-25 manage to get one.
Now, a person having a licence can possess up to three guns.
If one goes by official records, there are over 4,500 licence holders in the State capital as of now.
If each has at least two guns, it means there are 9,000 licenced guns in the city. But the records claim there are only about 7,500 such weapons. Not surprisingly, 50 per cent of the gun licence holders are in the West Zone (Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and Hitech City).
In the past six months, 96 people, including two women, have applied for a licence. Of them, 47 were granted licences, 23 rejected and another 26 are in process.
Last year, the police received 143 applications and of them, 60 were accepted, 67 rejected and 16 are still in process. In 2010, 117 people, including three women, had sought gun licences. Of them, 60 got the licence while 52 had to face disappointment. Five applications are still pending with the police.
So, who in general seek a gun licence? “Celebrities, those in real estate business, politicians and some IAS officers who face a threat to their lives apply for gun licences. At least half of the applicants do so just to have a gun as a status symbol,” explained Bhagwat.
To get a licence one needs to prove the need for it and submit a set of documents (see box) and if everything is in order, it will be granted in a month. Besides, the applicant should be above 21 and undergo at least three months of training in handling weapons at any of the authorised institutions.
“Training is a must because users are taught basics of arms maintenance and usage in particular situations,” Bhagwat said.
In Hyderabad, there are 20 authorised dealers who sell guns, pistols and revolvers.
Most of them are usually imported but these dealers also sell used weapons. Bullets too are sold based on the licence from a minimum of 25 to a maximum of 100.
“The licence holders from Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills have imported guns, pistols and revolvers each of which cost more than Rs 10 lakh,” Bhagwat told City Express. The preferred choice is the .32 Smith and Wesson. Of late, though, people seem to be going for more fancier ones.