Skip to comments.To Office, Revolver In Handbag (India)
Posted on 08/04/2012 6:47:00 AM PDT by James C. Bennett
Self-defence in mind, working women in Delhi apply for gun licences
New Delhi, July 30: Marketing professional Sapna Aroras (name changed on request) days are a hectic rush around Delhi. But wherever the 31-year-old goes, she never forgets her .32 revolver.
Delhi has become very unsafe for women. Because of my job, I often return home late; so I applied for a gun licence last year and bought the gun. Earlier, I used to carry pepper spray but thats not a strong enough deterrent, she said. The revolver makes me feel safe.
Sapna, who has received the routine weapons-handling training the police impart to new licence holders, says she wouldnt balk at pulling the trigger if the need arose.
She isnt alone. There has been a new trend of working women in Delhi applying for gun licences in the past couple of years, a senior police officer said.
Earlier, some women would inherit gun licences by applying to have their deceased fathers licences transferred to them. But of late, women applicants have been citing self-defence, said M.K. Tiwari, additional commissioner (licensing department),
Sharmila Singh, a senior media professional, too plans to apply for a firearms licence.
Since Im outdoors most of the time and return late at night, I carry a knife and a pepper spray in my handbag. But thats not enough if four or five people surround you on a lonely stretch at night, she said.
I think firearms have become a necessity for working women considering the rise in crime against women in the capital.
Tiwari, though, admits that the number of women who receive gun licences isnt high considering the number that applies.
We have rejected many womens applications because they failed to justify the threat perception they claimed, he said.
The Delhi police say that 20-25 per cent of the 200-300 gun-licence applications they receive a month on the ground of personal safety come from women. This means just 2-3 per cent of these women applicants are successful.
An officer said the police consider several points: whether she lives alone, returns home alone at night, has been harassed or accosted by men, and lives in a crime-prone area.
Sarita Agarwal, a north Delhi teacher who quit her job to look after her elderly in-laws after her husband was transferred to Bangalore in 2010, described how she was denied a gun licence.
I applied for one after a rise in burglaries and robberies in my neighbourhood. But the police said there was no threat to me as so many people lived in the locality. I suppose they would accept I faced a threat only if criminals barged into my home and killed us all.
She added: A friend later told me that you need to be well-connected to get a gun licence easily.
A senior officer who wouldnt be quoted corroborated this, saying that if an applicant can get a recommendation from a politician, bureaucrat or senior police officer, he gets preference even if he doesnt fit the criteria.
The gun culture in northwest India makes a gun licence a status symbol for many men, he said, suggesting trigger-happy men can often get a licence more easily than a working woman genuinely fearful of her safety.
He cited an example eerily similar to the Jessica Lal murder: Last year, a man shot in the air after he was served cold food at an upscale restaurant.
Sapna said she had no connections and was lucky to receive her gun licence. During the interview, I told the cops how I was once accosted by some youths on a deserted street, she said.
An example additional commissioner Tiwari cited as proof that high-risk women arent denied the licences suggested the police have a very male interpretation of threat perception and tend to ignore the gender-specific threats women face.
She owns a big jewellery shop in Delhi, Tiwari said about an applicant, and considering the threat perception, we granted her a firearms licence.
Most of the men who receive gun licences in Delhi on the ground of personal safety are businessmen such as jewellers who make huge financial transactions daily, an officer said. He acknowledged: The criteria for both men and women are similar.
Of the about 1,000 men issued gun licences in Delhi every year, Tiwari said, 50-100 are shooting enthusiasts, 500-600 get the licence for personal safety, and the rest inherit it. The majority of the licences are given to politicians, army and police officers and bureaucrats, he said.
Rajya Sabha MP and Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhary, who carries a licensed revolver for self-protection, said the police should issue more licences to women as they need it more than men who want to flaunt it (their gun) at weddings.
The police may be discriminating against women because of social stereotypes: they cannot digest the fact that women too can keep guns.
Chaudhary rued the polices failure to keep Delhi safe for women but added: Its good that they (women) want to arm themselves with guns for self-defence; I appreciate it.
She told The Telegraph: I have a German-make revolver which I carry in my handbag. So far I havent shot anybody but I have used it many times to intimidate people who try to come too close, especially during election rallies. Now people know that I dont carry lipstick in my handbag but a revolver; so they maintain a safe distance.
The guns can cost a packet, though.
Indian-made .32 revolvers cost between Rs 70,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh but imported ones, which can cost Rs 3 lakh to Rs 6 lakh, are better, said R. Sharma, secretary-general of the National Association for Gun Rights in India (NAGRI). Sapnas, made by the Indian Ordnance Factory, cost her Rs 70,000.
Sharma said whether a woman should simply wave the gun to scare off potential attackers or shoot at them or merely fire in the air is something they must decide.
He said one school of thought maintained the women should target the attackers legs but added that this requires a very accurate aim. Besides, the situation may not offer much reaction time.
He had a piece of advice for women like Sapna: Train well to use the gun, and use it responsibly. Bring it out only if theres no other option.
Seema Malik, who runs the NGO Mirchi Jhonk which spreads awareness among women about the use of chilli powder for self-defence, welcomed the new trend.
Carrying chilli can be a deterrent against one or two attackers but the sight of a revolver is enough to scare away a group of men, she said.
But Madhu Kishwar, a woman activist, said guns were not the answer.
I am in favour of disarming people who have guns as I believe safety does not come from the gun. Its true that a goonda culture exists in Delhi but guns cannot be the solution. What we need are strong laws and an efficient police, she said.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of me out shooting with my uncles - chilly December dawns with a moist blanket of dew covering the countryside, the morning mist slowly fading away and the smell of burning cordite...Divine!
I was introduced to guns at the "ripe old age" of 6 and acquired my first gun (a .22 Cal Air Rifle) when I was 8. It was a gift from my uncle and I was absolutely thrilled. As I slowly honed my skills during those initial years, one of my Dad's friends introduced me to target shooting and later sub-junior events at state level competitions. I was hooked!
I love shooting for many reasons. In the first place, holding a gun means that I am not helpless in the face of aggression coming from another. I also love the very act of shooting, for one simple reason, it is the ultimate form of self-control. If I pull the trigger, and the bullet doesn't go where I wanted it to go, I, and I alone, am at fault. In other words, I have to practice self-control when I shoot, there is no point in losing my temper when I miss, no point in blaming the gun, bullet or sights. I simply have to take a deep breath, and try again. It is a constant process of self-improvement, and to achieve a goal of perfection, or even near-perfection, brings me immeasurable satisfaction.
At the end of every shooting session at the range, I come back at peace with myself and with the world. The noise of shooting, the power I've unleashed (and which I've had to control), the calmness which I've had to achieve, all combine to bring me into a state of Zen-like stillness. It's something everyone should experience. I've taken many people shooting with me, a lot who have never shot before. Without exception, they've all come away as fans of the sport, and wanted to do it again.
There's another thing that's not just personal; and it's a guy thing. Guns are almost perfect machines. When you take one apart, and see what I call its "simple complexity", you are in awe as to what happens - cams move, sears disengage, springs coil back, metal moves along metal, all within tolerances of thousandths of an inch, and all within a couple millionths of a second. Then you reload, and do it all over again. I have a pistol in my collection which was manufactured circa 1942, and it still works as advertised. Find me another machine that still works about as well as the day it was made sixty two years ago, has detonated and contained a mini-explosive device many thousands of times, lasted through who knows what weather, endured rough handling and neglect, and travelled through at least two continents (it was made in U.S.A, for the Army). Like I said, the love of so perfect a mechanism is a guy thing.
In any event, I make no excuses for my attachment to guns, nor do I care about the opprobrium or condescension of others. I have more than one gun, for the same reason that other people own more than one CD album, and more than one performer withal. I don't need more than, say, two or three guns (actually, I once worked out that eight would be about my minimum), but gun ownership has little to do with need anyway. Except for self-protection - you can read about that in the entertaining Parable of the Sheep for an explanation so simple that even a child can understand it.
Responsible gun ownership requires a strict adherence to safety and I have attempted to put together the basic rules of firearm safety here. Even if you do not own or intend to own a firearm, please take the time to read these tenets of gun safety.
If you would like to know more about (my favourite sport) Skeet shooting, you can read more here.
If you wish to know about the state of gun ownership and gun control in India you can read more here. Finally I would strongly recommend you read Eric S Raymond's "Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun: What Bearing Weapons Teaches About the Good Life" to understand how gun owners feel.
I wish women (and men) in Maryland could apply for,and get a gun permit.
Does India have a 2nd. Amendment that is laughed at by some states?
I wonder who mans the NRA hotline in India.
(Indian accent) This is "Tom". Please reboot your Glock and try again. Thank you very fine!
I spent some time in India back around 1980. Back then, private handguns were almost unknown. There were a few rifles for hunting, but the idea of a city dweller having a gun for self-defense was not common at all.
One of the archtypes there is the “Female Bandit”. I remember one getting a tremendous amount of press attention, but you never really knew if she was real, or if it was all just myth.
Arms licence cannot be denied by citing law and order problem: High Court
Revenue authorities or police officials cannot refuse to issue arms licence by citing the likelihood of law and order problem as all citizens of the country are entitled to possess weapons, under licence, for self-defence unless their antecedents or propensities do not entitle them for the privilege, the Madras High Court has ruled.
Justice D. Hariparanthaman passed the ruling while allowing a writ petition filed by an agriculturist who was denied licence by the Commissioner of Revenue Administration as well as the Theni District Revenue Officer in 2005 and 2004 respectively to possess a double barrel (DBBL) gun.
The judge said that arms licence could be denied only if there was a threat to public peace or public safety which were of much greater magnitude compared to a law and order problem.
He pointed out that the Arms Act, 1959 was enacted to lessen the rigours of the colonial Arms Act, 1878 which made it difficult for law abiding citizens to possess firearms for self-defence whereas terrorists, dacoits and other anti-social or anti-national elements were using not only civilian weapons but also bombs, hand-grenades, Bren-guns, Sten-guns, rifles and revolvers of military type.
The 1959 Act was also intended to recognise the right of the State to requisition the services of every citizen during national emergencies. “The licensees and permit holders of fire arms, Shikaris (hunters), target shooters and rifle-men in general (in appropriate age groups) will be of great service to the country in emergencies, if the Government can properly mobilise and utilise them,” the Act read.
In so far as the present case was concerned, the petitioner S. Rajkapur said that he was residing in a farm house in a forest area in Theni district. He was doing coconut business and also owned a cardamom estate at Sathurangaparai village in Udumbansolai taluk in Kerala. He wanted to possess a gun for self protection while carrying huge amount of cash and also to protect his crops from wild animals. Stating that his grandfather and father possessed gun licences during their lifetime, the petitioner said that he now wanted to purchase a DBBL gun from his uncle.
The jurisdictional Tahsildar recommended issuance of gun licence to the petitioner, yet the Commissioner and the DRO rejected his plea on the basis of a police report apprehending law and order problem. Pointing out that Section 13 (3)(a)(i) of the Arms Act specifically permits grant of licence to protect crops from wild animals, Mr. Justice Hariparanthaman said: “If the family has been in possession of weapon for crop protection, the same should not be denied to the petitioner particularly when there is no criminal case against him.”
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest"
He who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honor by non-violently facing death, may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden.
Another way of saying, "A well-regulated Militia being necessary ..."
Greetings from India. What you saw in those articles is only a part of the picture. It is only the reactionary impulse of a disarmed citizenry helplessly pinned down against rampant crime. Right now the Gun rights in India are a rarity. Guns are accessible only to the luckiest or privileged (well connected) people. Our Gun laws changed after Independence from British rule but what really matters is the implementation. There the authorities attitude still reeks of colonial baggage. License are refused on grounds such as “No threat to life/property assessed”. The law clearly states that any applicant who has come clean in background check - with bonafide records, no physical or mental issues - by default qualifies for the firearm license. Meaning granting the license should be the norm and refusal an exception.
However reality is quite the opposite as Abhijeet has summed up in few lines “I live in India and I am a proud firearm owner - but I am the exception not the norm, an odd situation in a country with a proud martial heritage and a long history of firearm innovation. This is not because the people of India are averse to gun ownership, but instead due to Draconian anti-gun legislation going back to colonial times.”
That website mentioned above “abhijeetsingh.com”, is actually the personal abode of this guy.
A wider forum for discussions (again started by Abhijeet & others) is active at http://www.indiansforguns.com
People from within and outside IFG (IndiansForGuns) had setup NAGRI few years back to spearhead the mission of protecting Gun rights of the Indian citizenry and educate them about Guns (Rights, safe use etc).
To answer some questions raised above:
— Thought there’s no BPO/hotline :D but together the IFG and NAGRI man the NRA role in India.
— Indian constitution didn’t support Gun ownership the way 2nd amendment did for US; but still our Constitution identifies Gun as a property and Gun ownership as a legal (not fundamental) right. Bottomline - our laws are workable but not the bureaucratic lordship in the country are hopeless despite of soundly failing in their job of protecting the society.
By the way as the topic was roughly “Women and Guns”, has anyone visited the site “http://www.corneredcat.com" ? It is run by a woman with experience. There’s a lot of valuable information at that site as well.