Sunday, February 25, 2018
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Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench) has issued an important directive to the state government, asking it to stop any further issuance of gun licenses-except in special  cases left to the discretion of the District Magistrate-- as there are more arms with the people and far less with the police. While the public have 11 lakh licensed guns, the police a mere two lakhs and a quarter. This is not all. Over 35,000 people have licenses for two guns, nearly 6000 have  three  gun licenses .

According to figures made available, there are 5730 gun licensees against whom criminal cases have been filed and  1061 against whom FIRs have been registered in different police stations. According to figures made available by the National Crime Record Bureau, Uttar Pradesh has recorded over 50 per cent of the country’s  murders committed  through firing. The Court has directed that a balance be maintained between the number of arms licenses with the police and the public.
The Court has said that the individual does not enjoy the right to possess an arm  but that it is a facility granted by the State. The Court has said that to arm the people in such a lavish manner was not free from danger and that already UP is sitting on a volcano.
The Court has appealed to both the Centre and the State to exercise control over the issuance of arms licenses—some highly lethal.

The picture on the licensed front is alarming enough.  But there is another side—the worst side represented by the open sale of unlicensed arms of all varieties including the highly lethal ones. And , as reported in the past, many people prefer to keep unlicensed  guns because, they say, it is less bothersome and cumbersome to get them. You don’t have to go through the delaying process of inquiries at this stage and that till the sanctioning authority is satisfied that you deserve it. In many instances, in order to set right their  adverse record, quite a sum of money has to be ‘invested’. But procuring an illegal arm is comparatively easy. There need not be any middle man. The transaction can be instant and direct.
Those having the unlicensed gun say that the fear of being caught is very rare because seldom has any squad been pressed into service to make house-to-house searches in order to nab those in possession of illegal arms. Then there are several people with unlicensed arms who have a license for a legitimate gun. The authorities may thus not be suspecting them at all!
To possess a gun has also become a status symbol. One can see how guns are fired on festive occasions. More often than not the guns claim a victim, accidentally though. Some people, however say that the ‘accident’ is well planned and is often carried out by hirelings so that the real man behind the scenes is hardly ever detected. Despite the ban imposed on firing guns on festive occasions, especially marriages, the show-offs don’t hesitate to use their gun powder.

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