This is my open to request to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh to repair the damage done in past due to ancient and oppressive colonial hangover. Right to Keep and Bear Arms should be a basic right. I would like to quote apostle of peace and non-violence Mahatma Gandhi on this.
Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.
His quote clearly mentions that British rulers didn't want native populace to be armed as they didn't trust natives. But now we are no longer ruled by British. We are world's largest democracy where trust between citizen and government has to flow both ways. While keeping this in mind along with your electoral promise of better security for all Indians, I am writing this letter to you.
Dear Prime Minister and Home Minister,
I appreciate your vision for a stronger India and wish you all the best for steps you need to take in that direction. As you rightly said, bitter pill is required to restore financial health and physical security of India. That is very well said. Keeping your vision in mind, I would like to suggest couple of things. They might sound bitter to some, but then most medicines do.
Post-1857 British administration realized that it would be tough to control armed populace and might lead to 1857-like rebellions in future. With this in mind, Indian Arms Act, 1878 was introduced. It was meant to disarm Indian populace while trusting firearms in hands of British and those who were considered loyal to the crown.
Similarly concept of Prohibited Bore (PB) and Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB) was introduced. For those who are not aware, PB is any bullet size that is used by armed forces or law enforcement agencies. Any other bullets besides this are considered NPB. This was put in place by British to ensure that natives won't be able to use captured military ammunition for their firearms. It might have served their purpose, but today it is super-absurd. E.g. you can't buy a pistol firing 9x19mm as armed forces and police use that round making it PB. But if you can locate one and pay for it, you can go and buy a Desert Eagle in .50 Action Express (AE) as technically it is NPB. It is a no-brainer that .50 AE is way more powerful than a 9x19mm bullet.
|Comparison between 9x19mm and .50 AE|
Concept of PB and NPB is not only absurd but leads to major hassles – thanks to total ignorance about firearms – in lobby entrusted with licensing. This is further compounded because NPB firearm license has to be applied with state authorities, application for PB license are processed by Ministry of Home Affairs. It is a fact that most of those responsible for issuing licenses are not familiar with firearms and look for any reason – valid or invalid – to reject or sit on application for firearms license. E.g. most of them will reject application for a weapon firing 9mm 'Short' (9x17mm) after just reading 9mm and without understanding the fact that armed forces and police use 9x19mm and not 9x17mm. Effectively 9x17mm is NPB, but gets branded as PB due to lack of knowledge.
India gained independence on 15th August 1947. Independence and democracy meant that government would listen to people and take decisions to make India safe and prosperous. But we all know that all subsequent governments failed to do so. Rather than working for citizens, government didn’t even trust its citizens. To continue their domination, government continued with Police Act and Arms Act written by British. Those acts were supposed to undermine natives so that British could control India for as long as possible. Indian government just rehashed those acts to meet their own ends. Right to Keep and Bear Arms gives citizen legal right to own and carry firearms, but it is not included as a right in the constitution. Although amending the constitution is a lengthy journey, you may start with small steps.
I request you to do away with concept of PB and NPB. My reasons for this are listed below:
- To streamline and rationalize licensing process.
- To ensure common supply of ammunition leading to increased numbers and increased interest by ammunition manufacturers. This would lead to competitive price of ammunition along with improvement in quality.
- Commonality in design of small arms will ensure economies of scale and better quality and pricing for end users.