The missing guns of Bombay

“Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms.” – Aristotle

Sauvik continues to make interesting reading, Pramod writes. He most certainly does. In “For an Armed Citizenry” and “Guns-4-Us”, Chakraverti argues that if all Mumbaikars, or even Indians for that matter, had had access to guns, the outcome in the terror attacks on the Taj and the Oberoi hotels might have been very different. He writes-

I sincerely doubt whether such a brazen strike by just 25 armed men would have caused so much damage and lasted so long if all decent Mumbaikars had guns of their own.

In fact, if they did have guns, such an attack would have perished at the thought itself. It would not have been even contemplated.

Shankar, a commentator on one of Sauvik’s blog posts, shares this video from an ABC News report on the myth that gun control reduces crime. And it is revealing. It talks, among other things, about how schools, colleges and other places where citizens are legally disarmed, are the juiciest targets for perpetrators – mentally disturbed or otherwise.

Criminals are the last ones from whom we should expect compliance with gun laws – desi kattas and smuggled Chinese firearms are used by most criminals in Delhi, as this Times of India article reports; all these weapons are “unlicensed”. But the law abiding citizen can only get a license to own a gun if his threat perception is judged to be high enough to warrant it.

Its very much possible that doing way with the licensing requirement might result in an increase in non-crime gun related deaths – its much easier to kill some one in a fit of rage with a gun than with bare hands or a knife or a stick, or by mistake. But this cannot be used as an excuse to leave people at the mercy of policemen who come after the fact. I personally know of a case where robbers jumped across the wall, threatened the guard (who was armed with a stick) with guns and sharp weapons, and robbed houses. I don’t know if the guard would have dared to pull a gun on criminals already holding one, but the fact that every citizen is armed is bound to give the “rational” criminal second thoughts.

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  • wgreen  On December 3, 2008 at 5:53 am


    I am encouraged that there are people in India speaking out for the natural right to self-defense and for freedom in the wake of the recent attacks. Our government would love to disarm us here in the US.

    Your post reminded me of a story John Lott told in his book, More Guns, Less Crime, in which he juxtaposed the 1984 McDonald’s massacre in the US with a failed “massacre” in Isrrael around the same time. While the attack in the US killed 21, the would be murderers in Israel only got off a couple of shots before armed Israeli civilians put an end to their efforts.

    I found this article from Lott online:

    “Prior to Virginia Tech, the two previous most deadly shootings in the U.S. were the 1991 Luby’s Cafeteria massacre in Texas, which left 23 people dead, and the shooting at a California McDonald’s in 1984, in which 21 people were killed.

    All these attacks shared something in common: citizens were already banned from having guns in those areas. Indeed, every multiple-victim public shooting of any significant size in the United States has occurred in one of these gun-free zones.

    The problem with gun-control laws is not that there isn’t enough regulation, rather that it is primarily the law-abiding, not the criminals, who obey these laws…

    Up until the early 1970s, Israel had to deal with the cold reality of terrorists who would take machine guns into shopping malls, schools, and Synagogues and open fire. That type of attack doesn’t occur any more. Why? Israelis realized that armed citizens could stop such an attacker before he did much damage.

    About 15 percent of Israelis are now licensed to carry weapons, and determined terrorists have to resort to less effective, secretive routes of attack such as bombing.

    Increasing the probability that someone will be able to protect himself or herself increases deterrence. Even when any single person might have a small probability of having a concealed handgun, the probability that at least someone in the crowd will have a gun is very high.

    There have been a number of attempted public attacks have been stopped by permit holders on streets, at universities, and public schools.”

  • Aristotle The Geek  On December 3, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Libertarian thought, and everything it represents – right to life, property, self defense etc – is alive in India, in the private sphere, something that I have discovered over the last few months. Unfortunately, under the Indian constitution, liberal parties are barred from fighting elections – all parties have to swear that they are socialist before they can even register. Or they can lie.

    On gun laws, and the benefits of private means of self defense, my views have changed over the years – I didn’t always subscribe to my present idea. That has come after being convinced by the libertarian position on the issue.

    About the US State trying to disarm its citizens, my quotation from Aristotle is the answer – motive, rather.

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