The police recently announced mandatory training for people who possess and those applying for firearms licences. 

Published: 21st June 2022 04:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd June 2022 03:09 PM   |  A+A-

Sajan K Paulose (Photo | T P Sooraj)

Express News Service

KOCHI: Mohanlal’s unique style of folding his mundu before walloping villains set a Malayali machismo template in the nineties and early 2000s. More recently, Nivin Pauly & Co. in Premam made mundu + black shirt + beard a kalippu combo for the angry young men in town. 

There is another growing tribe that feels these macho style statements are cliched or boyish. They prefer heavier stuff — like guns. The trend first boomed with Chinese-made replica guns and cigarette lighters flooding the duty-paid market. Old shopkeepers at the Marine Drive still recall how Suresh Gopi films popularised the replicas among teenagers and youth.

Currently, thanks to films such as Uri, KGF and Joji, expensive, imported airguns that do not need licence are trending among youth in the city. And, of course, there was PUBG, which got even school children discussing Kalashnikovs and Sig Sauers in detail.   

Today, the most sought-after imported guns in the air-pistol category are the Italy-made Beretta 92 Fs, the German Walther CP88, Austrian Glock 17, and the Spanish Gamo PR 725. Indian-made air pistols HeMan Mark-3, Commander Boss, and Blanka are also popular among the young generation. 

In the foreign air rifle category, Diana 300 Magnum and Gamo Roabster, which cost about Rs 55,000 and Rs 50,000, respectively, have a lot of takers. Indian air rifles such as Precihole 2x200, SDB Xena, and Aarmar 350 magnum, too, are popular.

Surge in demand
Wholesale and retail gun dealers in Kochi say there has been a recent surge in demand for air guns. “Earlier, only a few people were interested in them. The trend appears to have shifted significantly as more people, primarily youngsters, have been purchasing these imported models,” says Sajan K Paulose, owner of wholesale gun shop Cochin Armoury. 

“We used to sell one or two guns a day, but now we sell more than five. The rise in demand is probably due to the influence of films such as KGF. We hope Vijay-starrer Beast would also help us get more customers.”

The same trend is seen across other gun shops such as Cochin Airguns, T Jacob and Thekkan Armoury, too. “Games such as PUBG and Free Fire are also major contributors to the gun boom,” says Cochin Armoury co-owner Sujin K Sajan. “Most of the youngsters who approach us seek  high-end models, which are mostly seen in the games. Many of those are unavailable for sale, so they choose from available range.”

Besides films and games, the stringent rules on issuing licence for actual firearms have also made many people opt for air guns. As per official data, only 1,753 persons have valid firearm licences in Ernakulam. 

“Getting a licence for firearms a cumbersome process; one has to clear several criteria,” says another gun shop owner, requesting anonymity.  “The clearance from the departments concerned may take even years. Currently, only sports persons are getting the licence to operate firearms and that, too, after several rounds of verification.” 

Medical representative Sreyas K, who recently purchased an imported air pistol, says the rules in getting a real rifle made him buy an air pistol. “Since my father had a firearm, I developed an interest towards guns,” he says. “But when I tried to get one for myself, the rules were too stringent. So I purchased an air pistol and rifle,” he says.

Businessman Pranab Joseph says he bought an air pistol as he often travels, and believes the piece adds to a sense of safety.  “The gun looks and feels original. It’s an empowering feeling to own one,” he says. “Also, the latest models are aesthetically made. So, in a way, it’s similar to people splurging on, say, watches or artworks.”

Sajan adds many people have been buying air guns for personal safety. “I have noted some customers coming to us after their neighbour’s house got robbed,” he says.  

Just 2% women 
Following the Nirbhaya case, the Centre had pushed the ‘Nirbheek’ revolver, specifically for women’s self-defence.   However, demand has been low. According to official data, women account for less than two per cent of all gun licence holders in the district. “Air pistols would be ideal self-defence option for women. However, only a few have purchased guns during recent years,” says Cochin Armoury owner Sajan K Paulose. 

The procedure

 Applications can be submitted online to the district collector, with valid documents and a fee of Rs 1,000. (https://ndal-alis.gov.in/armslicence/applyOnline.do)
 Police clearance certificate, after background checks
Personal interview to check if the applicant is mentally sound
 The district authority shall call for a report from the superintendent of police, tahsildar and the divisional forest officer concerned
 Applications will be forwarded to the local police station for verification
 Competent authorities make thorough assessments regarding threat-based requirements of the arms by the applicant, capabilities of use, safe handling of the arms, physical fitness of the applicant, etc 
 If the report is satisfactory, licence will be granted
 Civilian training certificate from the police
 Applicants should fill the National Database on Arms Licence form
 Submit it to the Arms Act Department for generating unique ID

Top picks

Air Pistols (foreign)

Walther CP88 cal. 4.5mm (German)

8-round magazine

Price: Rs 34,000

Beretta 92 Fs (Italy)

CO2 pistol (uses 12g cartridges)

8-round pellet repeater

Price : Rs 35,000

Glock 17 (Austria)

18-shot air-pistol with realistic blowback action

Powered by a 12g CO2 cartridge

Price Rs 34,000

Air rifles (foreign)

Diana Mod. 350 Magnum

Power source: Spring-piston

Shot Capacity:1

Price: Rs 55,000

Gamo Roadster IGT 10X Gen2 0.177

Power source: Gasram

Capacity: 10 rounds

Price Rs 50,000

Gamo PR 725 

Powered by 12g CO2 cartridges

Capacity - 8 shots

Price:  Rs 34,000

The police recently announced mandatory training for people who possess and those applying for firearms licences. A quick scan reveals youngsters are opting for imported airguns, which do not require licences.


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