Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Demand for Guns in India

In the land of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian gun owners are coming out of the shadows for the first time to mobilize, U.S.-style, against proposed new curbs on bearing arms.

When gunmen attacked 10 sites in Mumbai in November 2008, including two five-star hotels and a train station, Mumbai resident Kumar Verma sat at home glued to the television, feeling outraged and unsafe.

Before the end of December, Verma and his friends had applied for gun licenses. He read up on India's gun laws and joined the Web forum Indians for Guns. When he got his license seven months later, he bought a black, secondhand, snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver with a walnut grip.

"I feel safe wearing it in my ankle holster every day," said Verma, 27, who runs a family business selling fire-protection systems. "I have a right to self-protection, because random street crime and terrorism have increased. The police cannot be there for everybody all the time. Now I am a believer in the right to keep and bear arms."
Two aspects of this story are especially worth noting.

First, it illustrates how escalating violence can increase the demand for guns; hence, the observation that guns and violence coincide in no way shows that guns cause violence.  This is a standard fallacy committed by advocates of gun controls.

Second, the story suggests that guns benefit owners by making them feel safer.  

If this perception of safety is false, or if it pervents more effective steps to avoid being a target of crime, then this feeling could be counterproductive. 

But neither of those conditions seems likely.  So evaluation of gun control laws must recognize that they reduce the well-being of exactly the people these laws claim to help.

1 comment:

Srinivasa Murty said...

One may be able to protect only when the criminal is a single individual. In the present day crimes, the offenders are much more equipped and prepared to face the resistance from the victim. Owning a gun can only give psychological perception of safety.