MANGALURU: The gun culture seems to be taking root in Daksina Kannada. A spurt in the number of applicants for firearm licences and their misuse in the district over the last two years has been a cause of concern and made the authorities rethink the procedure of sanctioning the licences.
Though the authorities have been cancelling or rejecting the licences, there seems to be no end to the misuse of licensed weapons with five such cases being reported in the Mangaluru city police limits between January and August this year. Five legal firearms, which were issued for agriculture purposes, were misused for hunting and dacoity. The police have also seized three illegal unlicensed weapons.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Mangaluru city, Hariram Shankar, said that the department has made sanctioning of licences strict. “There is an unnecessary proliferation of weapons, which is not a healthy trend. This year, we have issued only five licences out of 23 applications, all for self-protection. In the city limits, we have 2,061 gun licences, including those issued for agriculture purposes. We have been cautious and not recommended issuing of new licences.
When there no threat perception, why issue weapons? People who had two weapons were made to either sell or surrender one firearm. For people above 60 years old, we insist on the fitness certificate to keep the weapons,” he said.
The strict measures have led to a decline in applications for new licences as compared to last year. The top choice of people for agricultural purposes is single and double-barrel guns, while for self-protection, it is the revolver. The police said people are now shifting to pistols for self-protection.
As per data with the forest department, the number of applicants for new licences has increased from just five in 2018 to 33 in 2021 in the district. Till July this year, 15 applications were received which are forwarded to the deputy commissioner who is the final authority to approve them. In 2019, 23 applications were received.
Dr Dinesh Kumar, Deputy Conservator of forests, Mangaluru division, said that an increase in applications is an alarming trend and could lead to offences like poaching and smuggling. Last week, Mangaluru city police arrested 12 people on charges of hunting a wild boar misusing guns issued for crop protection in Moodbidri.