BBC World Service

In India, gun control is tight — but the black market thrives

Marketplace Contributor Feb 18, 2013
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BBC World Service

In India, gun control is tight — but the black market thrives

Marketplace Contributor Feb 18, 2013
HTML EMBED:
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There are an estimated 40 millions guns in India — and as concerns rise about safety, the number of applications for gun licenses is growing.

Tanmay Chatterjee is a spokesperson for the group Indians for Guns. Chatterjee says, “More and more women are enquiring about the procurement process and are applying for licenses. The rise in the number of applications is very sharp.”

But getting a gun license can take years. First, you have to prove there’s a direct threat to your life. So the black market for guns is growing, says gun-dealer Joydeep Biswas, whose family has been in the gun business for five generations.

“A large chunk of people want it for self-defense. So yes, people want it for their own personal safety. And they will buy illegal arms irrespective of whether the government gives them a license or not.”

One estimate puts illegal gun ownership in India at more than 85 percent of the total. And that, says Biswas, is wiping out businesses like his. “This is a dying trade. We are here because our family has been doing this for generations. In the cases of the gunshops, the new generation is not coming in. We are probably the last generation.”

Many of the black market guns are made in India, but they’re also coming in from neighboring Nepal and Bangladesh. And as regulation of gun ownership remains tight and concerns about safety grow, the balck arms market will likely continue to thrive.

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