December 2, 2008
Gun Control in India
The world watched in horror as the terrorists prowled and murdered for hours through the streets of a major city in India. The mayhem went all but unabated. No one tried to stop them -- because no one could stop them. None of the citizens were armed.
India has a long history of gun control. Under British occupation, the citizens of India had no rights to private gun ownership. Even Mahatma Gandhi protested the firearms prohibition:
"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." (M. Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of my Experiments with Truth.)
In 1959 the prohibition was repealed. But the Indian government rushed in to protect its citizens from themselves and by 1990 the government had banned the import of small arms.
Permits for owning weapons are available to the citizenry of India but the licensing process is so complex and bewildering that very few citizens make the effort to (legally) obtain firearms. (A brief history of the gun control laws in India is available here and a video exploring the issue here.)
There is a huge lesson for freedom loving peoples to learn from the massacre in Mumbai: We cannot count on the government to protect us from terrorists who are willing to die to murder us. And without the right to legally own a firearm, we cannot protect ourselves.