Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control

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Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control

Post by mundaire » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:48 am

Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control
December 10, 2008
By Abhijeet Singh


People across the globe watched in shock as the terror attack on Mumbai unfolded on television screens everywhere. The meticulous planning and the sheer audacity of the attacks stunned the world and, in the final analysis, set the stage for a pure human tragedy: 195 lives lost, many times that number seriously injured, and hundreds of families scarred forever.

The terrorists targeted iconic landmarks like the busy CST railway terminus, two luxury hotels, a local Jewish outreach centre, a cafe, and a hospital. They placed bombs in taxis and other locations. All of these attacks occurred almost simultaneously, compounding the confusion and completely exposing the inept emergency services.

Now as the citizens of Mumbai go about the business of rebuilding their burnt out landmarks and trying to heal shattered lives, the emotions of a nation turn from horror to anger at being let down by those very people whose duty it was to protect them. But instead of playing the blame game it is time for the citizens of India to pause and try to understand why was it that these merchants of terror succeeded so well in their dastardly enterprise and how culpable are we for creating the circumstances which multiplied the magnitude of this tragedy many fold. After all, this was only a group of ten terrorists and those ten were mostly split into teams of two each, to enable them to cover several locations simultaneously. Why were they not stopped sooner? Did so many people really have to die?

The entire blame cannot be squarely placed at the door of the low-paid, inept, corrupt, and ill-equipped police force. If you rely solely on the authorities to protect you and ensure your safety, you are rather naive. It is impossible for even the best trained and best equipped police force in the world to be everywhere all at once and to guarantee every single citizen complete protection. But forget about the best police force in the world. In the present case, even though armed policemen were present at the CST railway terminus, no solid attempt was made to even pin down the two terrorists who attacked CST.

Sebastian D'Souza a news photographer who witnessed the entire scene, and also took the photos that were flashed in most newspapers around the world, had this to say:
There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything. At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, "Shoot them, they're sitting ducks!" but they just didn't shoot back. I told some policemen the gunmen had moved towards the rear of the station but they refused to follow them. What is the point if having policemen with guns if they refuse to use them? I only wish I had a gun rather than a camera.
"I only wish I had a gun," a statement that echoes one of the biggest failures of Indian democracy. The state has actively prevented law-abiding citizens from owning the tools with which to protect their lives!

It wasn't supposed to be this way, in fact throughout the freedom struggle our leaders actively campaigned for gun rights, including M.K. Gandhi himself. In it's 1931 Karachi session the Congress party, which was at the forefront of our freedom struggle, adopted a 20-point resolution on fundamental rights, this included the right to keep and bear arms. However, when India finally became independent in 1947, this right was missing from the new constitution that was finally adopted.

Instead the Indian parliament made noises about weapon "regulation" and eventually replaced the British time Arms Act with the new Arms Act of 1959, which boldly promised to make it easier for citizens to own guns, but in essence was a rehash of the old legislation.

But the Indian government has not merely used legislation and licensing to keep guns out of the hands of civilians. It has also used state policy to ensure that firearms and ammunition prices are probably some of the highest in the world. Domestic production of rifled firearms is a state monopoly, churning out crude products that are priced at 7 (or more) times their cost of production. Similarly domestic production of ammunition is a state monopoly with inconsistent supplies, poor quality, and very high prices. This combined with the fact that imports have been virtually banned since 1986 means that an ordinary snub nosed .357 Colt revolver will sell (legally) for a mind boggling US $20,000 or more.

A tight licensing regime combined with the high price of acquiring a legal gun has meant that very few Indians own weapons. Unsurprisingly these restrictions have also meant that there is a thriving black market for arms and ammunition, ensuring a steady supply to all manner of criminals -- people who don't bother about the niceties of remaining within the purview of the law.

Citizens must jump through several hoops to get an arms license and then pay crazy prices for ordinary products. But black market firearms are available at a small fraction of the cost of legal firearms. A country-made single shot handgun can cost as little as US $ 20, imported handguns go for US $ 500- $1,000, and AK-47's (like the ones that were used in this attack) cost about US$ 1,500 or thereabouts on the black market. There never was a clearer real life example of how gun control takes guns out of the hands of decent law-abiding folk and puts them right into the hands of criminals.

At the Jewish outreach centre, bystanders pelted the terrorists with stones in a vain attempt to ward off the attack, but had to retreat when the terrorists opened fire with automatic rifles. Our citizens were trying to ward off the terrorists with stones! I cannot think of a more extreme example of how helpless the government has rendered it's own citizens. In the absence of guns, and thus incapable of offering any resistance, they were simply like lambs to the slaughter. On that fateful day, this was a story repeated again and again all over Mumbai: unarmed civilians, slow & inept emergency services, and mindless slaughter of innocents.

But we live in a democracy; hence at the end of the day it is each one of us who is to blame. It is we the people who must ask our representatives hard questions; it is we who must bring the right to bear arms to the forefront of the political agenda. We have the power to effect change through our votes and with elections just a few months away, let us not forget the lessons of Mumbai, let us not forget those that lost their lives there, many of who could have been saved if just a few of us were armed.

As citizens it is incumbent on us to make sure we don't allow another tragedy like Mumbai to take place. As free men and women it is our responsibility to take measures to protect ourselves as best we can, using the best available tools and it's high time we demanded them as a right!
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Last edited by mundaire on Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by archer » Wed Dec 10, 2008 1:22 pm

just to rub it in my licence request for a .22LR rifle got rejected...:-(
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Post by Mack The Knife » Wed Dec 10, 2008 1:35 pm

Bloody ridiculous! Write to your MLA and make your feelings known.

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Post by mundaire » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:06 pm

BTW, I retain all copyrights to this article so if someone knows any publication in India that may be willing to carry it... we could get a bit more local press - end of the day much more relevant to our cause...

Cheers!
Abhijeet
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shahid

Post by shahid » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:14 pm

Can we carry it on our offroad and gun websites ?

penpusher

Re: Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control

Post by penpusher » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:54 pm

I don't know if this link has been posted here earlier but a lot here sounds very similar to what happened at Mumbai

[gvideo]-4069761537893819675&pr=goog-sl[/gvideo]

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Re: Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control

Post by raj » Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:08 pm

:!: To Mr.Mundaire(Abhijeet),i can publish that article in a local newspaper that is sent all over madhya pradesh.but problem is that its a hindi newspaper.
can u plz send me the complete article ??i will try to get it translated in hindi and get published. :!:

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Post by Olly » Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:04 pm

Congratulations Abhijeet on the published article. I've posted a comment there too... I am sure other IFGians would also like to do so...

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Re: Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control

Post by jonahpach » Wed Dec 10, 2008 8:45 pm

Dont want to be a KLD but although the article does promote our (RKBA) cause, I doubt very much if a better armed citizentry would have had the nerve to accost and retaliate against the heavily armed terrorists. I have seen and read about too many accident victims who die on the roads every day just because nobody bothered to intervene or take the trouble. Just think! Who would bother to intervene and put their lives at stake? Anybody who was in a position to intervene proactively would have also had the time to get away and that would be the most sensible thing to do.

On the other hand, while we are discussing about RKBA and the rights of every free citizen to be able to arm and protect himself, and since it is almost impossible to compete with the heavily funded 'Antis' vis-a-vis advertising and posters etc, (If only some of our well connected overseas friends could convince Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Beretta etc. to contribute to our efforts to open the doors to imported arms and ammunition)

Maybe we could start collecting articles containing stories of bravery and incidents when private citizens protected themselves and fought off dacoits/thieves with the use of their licensed firearm! This would be a great data bank and source of reference to promote the cause of our right to keep and bear arms.

Just my 2 cents worth..

Jonah
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Re: Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control

Post by Mack The Knife » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:01 pm

Jonah,

If that's your take on the subject, why do you carry a sidearm? Could it be that when the chips are really down you may just use it?

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Post by Risala » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:42 pm

archer";p="61373 wrote:just to rub it in my licence request for a .22LR rifle got rejected...:-(
On seeing some of you older posts,it seems you have relocated abroad for a couple of years,if that is the case how do you expect to get a licence when you arent even present here.
Mack The Knife Bana";p="61380 wrote: Bloody ridiculous! Write to your MLA and make your feelings known.
Rusty,the system isnt so bad,agreed that there are issues that can be better addressed by the licencing authorities,but it does work in most geneuine cases.The problem is that most wannabes are looking for short cuts,and generally end up abusing the system.I have personally never had a problem dealing with the concerned department,am sure you havent either.

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Re: Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control

Post by jonahpach » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:55 pm

What can I say Mack The Knife!
I am a scardey cat.. Jokes apart, I am trying to be realistic! I understand that since the Mumbai attacks, most of us are angry. This with a feeling of helplessnes in all of us has started giving some of us dreams of bravado and (delusions of grandeur??) greatness but in all reality even the mamas (cops) armed with lee enfields were actually helpless in front of better armed and trained adversary. (I actually have a strong suspicion that most of the 303 lee enfields issued to our cops are outright unserviceable! And even if serviceable, cops on routine patrol are not even allotted ammunition.)

I'd also like to believe that If I was armed and were in a position to retaliate, I would have the guts to do so. But knowing the way we Indians do things, and knowing the hustle and bustle of everyday life in our cities and the way nobody cares about anybody these days I doubt in the Indian scenario anybody who is armed would take the trouble to risk his life for someone he didnt know. Of course, on the other hand If ones life is on the line and if one was armed.. And if one didnt have any other choice.. Then ofcourse things should be different.

That is also why I am taking the trouble to be familiar with all the military and police small arms that I am able to get my hands on. Maybe it would be useful someday! But knowing the finality and end of anything to do with firearms, I hope not!

Jonah
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Re: Mumbai's Harsh Lesson on Gun Control

Post by indian » Wed Dec 10, 2008 10:08 pm

i agree with the point that the cops at CST were helpless with their 303s.they would have definitely retaliated if armed with AKs or carbines.armed citizenry will be of some help for sure.one relative of an MP fired at the terrorists with his pistol during the akshardham temple episode in gujarat and we can assume that a couple more citizens with guns would have really helped.

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Post by archer » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:43 am

Sanjay,

You are spot on.

I had applied for my Licence in Aug 2007. At that point in time i wasnt sure i was gonna move to the US for studies. All the formalities(police verification etc) were completed in my presence without the use of any form of influence.



Parag
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Post by Sakobav » Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:19 am

jonahpach

This very point of having the courage to use a gun when confronted with such a dire situation was discussed in an earlier thread regarding the Mumbai Tragedy. Primary issue confronting Indians is the access to firearms once this hurdle is crossed then one can theorize about situations and reactions.

Nevertheless its a good hypothetical question and there is ample empirical proof that having armed citizens would have been deterrent to these wackos who always look for path of least resistance. Here is one such proof - Check this video of CST on how two police guys held these guys at bay with only one Lee Enfield rifle between them.

Giving fire may be easy but receiving fire is altogether different proposition and with bullets whizzing by it does quickly change ones priorities and complicates the best laid plans..
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7760690.stm



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