End Gun Violence Now! Document, Monitor and Regulate Gun Trafficking Today!

End Gun Violence Now! Document, Monitor and Regulate Gun Trafficking Today!

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Swarna Rajagopalan started this petition to The President of India and

Since December 2019, in the violent responses to anti-CAA protestors in New Delhi and elsewhere, the widespread use of guns and the high numbers of gun fatalities and injuries have been striking.

Delhi Police’s report to the government estimated that 102 people were shot in the four days of rioting alone and 9 of them succumbed to their injuries. Earlier press reports like this one had slightly higher estimates.

  • How did so many guns enter New Delhi and reach the hands of so many civilian users?
  • How many of these are licensed and how many illegal?
  • Where are the users procuring ammunition and how is it possible for them to have a steady supply?

Recent riots in North East New Delhi have placed a spotlight on such questions.

A Small Arms Survey study reported that there were 71,101,000 privately owned firearms, both legal and illicit, in India as of 2017. This makes it 5.30 guns per 100 people and in 2007, India was already ranked second in the world in terms of the numbers of privately held guns. The same 2017 study estimated that there were 61,401,000 unregistered and illegally held guns, meaning most of the privately owned guns in India were illegal. 

The easy availability and proliferation of guns has grave social consequences, as we have seen around the world:

  • Easy access to guns makes it tempting to bypass other means of conflict resolution, in the household and in the public arena.
  • Widespread availability of guns has gendered consequences. Where men are more likely to be killed or injured, women are more likely to be bereaved and left in charge of supporting families.
  • Where men can access guns, the likelihood of women facing sexual and gender-based violence increases manifold, as domestic violence incidents involve shooting and guns enable rape and other sexual violence.

The easy availability of guns normalizes the language of violence. Gun violence seen in New Delhi since December 2019 is symptomatic of this. Governments that ignore it or dismiss it as a law and order problem place society at grave risk.

To this end, we demand that:

(1) The Government of India immediately set up a taskforce to conduct a comprehensive review of the implementation of existing regulations; legal trade and illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition, and the private ownership of guns. The taskforce should be made up of independent-minded judges, retired police officers with a distinguished record, academics and civil society representatives.

(2) Investigations into the gun violence incidents from 2019 onwards be reported promptly and transparently, answering questions about ownership, provenance and legality of the weapons.

(3) Gun ownership and regulation be stringently monitored so that licenses have to be renewed, change of address and transfer of ownership reported.

(4) Ammunition manufacturing and sales regulations be vigilantly and strictly applied, with breaches of the law effectively punished as per the legislation.

Governments act to secure the state; but in monitoring, regulating and ending the trade in small arms, they can act to secure peace for their citizens.

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