Gun, Gandhiji and Mr pink pants
October 20, 2018, 11:20 pm IST Samir Shukla in Science Nomad | India | TOI
As a gun played a very important role in the meteoric rise of Pink Pants across India, it tempts me to quote something very interesting from our history when a great man spoke in favour of men like Mr Pink Pants.
“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look back upon the Act depriving the 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 If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity.”
There is no prize guessing about the man who spoke these words!
He is none other than Mahatma Gandhi, the man who is almost the last messiah to walk the earth spreading the message of peace and harmony through non-violence.
Guns are, thus a very confusing subject and the debate about civilian entitlement to carry them is so huge that it is regularly deciding the fate of humanity by playing a critical role in the election of the most powerful executive on the planet, the president of US of A.
It is strange that India has rarely noticed that guns are amongst us, not just with Mr Pink Pants, but also in the hands of most of our peace-loving politicians and many other law-abiding citizens that you and I may not be very keen to meet in a dark alley.
I am awed by gun owners in India because I look at them as equals of Supreme Court Judges or rather more, as even a Supreme Court judge is not empowered to pass a judgment to terminate a human life instantaneously, while a gun owner like Mr Pink Pants, even if intoxicated, can pass such a judgment in a jiffy.
Though the Pink Pants have made the issue a bit comic, it needs the most serious attention because by neglecting to give guns their due attention, we have created a strange imbalance in the society.
If we look at the origin of Arms Act 1959 that control civilian ownership of weapons in India, it is a direct result of the first freedom struggle that Indian people managed to put together in 1857 (partially because prior to the act there was not much gun control in India so it allowed Indians to organise an armed uprising).
After thwarting the freedom struggle of 1857, British Crown decided to take over the rule of India from East India Company, and one of the critical legal enactments it brought was Arms Act 1878 that disallowed natives to carry arms.
It was a disarmament of an entire nation of people only to ensure that they can’t rise against the state and can be kept enslaved.
When the British occupation ended, free India had many other pressing issues so our parliament was not too bothered to worry about guns from the perspective of empowering citizens.
Most of we use today as Arms Act came in 1959, but it has retained the essence of original British Arms Act of 1878 that our oppressor had used. It is aimed at limiting the presence of arms in the society.
So, we live in a nation where guns are a commodity controlled by the state that allows ownership of these death-machines mostly to those who can convince the state that protection offered to civilians by the state authorities is not enough and they need to possess the power to kill a human being for self-protection.
As we have little information to be judgmental about the threats that this gun-toting man is living with, I would rather leave him here (for my own safety) and move to the issue of gun ownership.
Unlike USA where gun ownership is a choice, in India we, the common citizens, are forced to live alongside armed people.
Though the Indian Arms Act is designed to ensure that only after stringent verification of the facts a gun licence is granted, the ground reality is, it is a prerogative of the police and hence it is open to manipulation and corruption.
If I use my journalistic privileges and make a guess in good faith, a gun owner in India is mostly a man who likes to show off his power and connections and not someone who really needs self-protection.
Let us understand that gun is an ultimate authority and hence when it is granted to few, it becomes a dangerous situation for the rest.
As most of us are unarmed, if we meet a gun-slinging Mr Pink Pants, we have no hope of defying his authority or will. We become helpless subjects of his whims and probably state of drunkenness.
So, as citizens of India, the power we must obey is not available only to state authorities but also to those who own a gun.
If you feel that guns are not too common in India to fear them in practical terms, do look at social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. You will be shocked to see the number of young kids posing with arms, especially from rural India.
Gun culture is rising across India. Guns are now as coveted as fast cars and every rich man hopes to own one.
The truth is, gun law can have only two options for the balance of power.
It is either all guns or no guns.
Even those who claim fear-to-life, that fear would be based on someone else owning a gun, so a no-gun situation is not a very absurd idea.
What India needs is to debate guns, even from the perspective of throwing the doors open, as it is surely a great balance of power, or become extremely stringent with gun licensing.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.