Armed & Friendly (Newspaper article on the gun culture in India)


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abhijeet
May 8, 2007, 05:04 PM
ARMED AND FRIENDLY (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Mumbai/Armed_and_friendly/articleshow/msid-2005842,curpg-1.cms)

[5 May, 2007 TIMES NEWS NETWORK]

In this series, we cover unusual groups that are bound by a common passion. This week,Sharmila Ganesan meets a society of armed Indians

On April 16, when a sullen English literature student named Cho Seung-Hui shot dead over 30 students and teachers at Virginia Tech, a scattered network of Indians silently cursed him for very personal reasons. Cho had given people like them a bad name. They went to the net and wrote passionate pieces, all in support of humanity but with an unmistakable defence of that romantic thing called the gun. “Guns don’t kill people, people do,” wrote Inderjeet Singh, a software professional. He is part of a nationwide group that includes pilots, businessmen and ex-army personnel. Here, every member has a gun. In fact, they are bonded by the common love for the weapon.

For over a year now, these gun enthusiasts have been meeting on an online forum called Indians For Guns. IFG, as the members like to call it, was started by Delhi’s 34-year-old entrepreneur Abhijeet Singh when he couldn’t find India-specific shooting information online. He then decided to post his own copy of the Arms Act on his personal website and got a lot of queries for help from other gun owners. That was when he set up the IFG yahoo group which later developed into a dedicated website. It now has about 250 members from all over India, mostly in the age group of 35 to 55. Besides, there are also several enthusiasts from US, UK and other countries who post here because of their love for India. In fact, two of the five moderators of the group are based abroad. “It’s their way of helping out fellow Indians,” says Singh, who started shooting at the age of eight. He owns about four to five pistols now and has participated in various national level competitions.

http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s311/abhijeetsm/toi/getimage.jpg
GUNS AND POSES The members of Indians For Guns meet regularly online as well as in the real world


From the very beginning, Singh made it clear that this was a serious group, “unlike Orkut communities”. Here, every bit of information related to guns, ammunition and gun laws is vetted for its accuracy by gunsmiths with over 40 years of experience. Two dreamy teenagers who lied about owning ‘submachines’ (illegal in India) were asked to leave the group. Singh has added a strict code of conduct along with some moral lessons which include guidance on the appropriate language. “If you won’t say it to your mother or grandmother, don’t say it here,” is one such lesson. When the members want to insult or swear, they have to find solace in sarcasm. A typical rude remark in this community would be mean rather than abusive. Like, “You won’t get far by saying that you have a rifle with which your grandfather shot a rogue elephant who leapt 20 feet in the air.”

When they speak about guns, these men sound like wineglass-holding connoisseurs in an art gallery. For them, names like Purdey and Beretta mean works of art. Pune’s Zubin Postwalla, who manages a travel agency, still remembers the aroma of gun-oil wafting through his dad’s room soon after he successfully opened his gun cabinet. Eventually though, the realisation of what these works of art are capable of, is a humbling feeling for the bunch. The very act of shooting can be the ultimate form of self-control. “If I pull the trigger,
and the bullet doesn’t go where I wanted it to go, I alone am at fault. I have to practise self-control when I shoot, there is no point in losing my temper when I miss, or in blaming the gun, bullet or sights. I simply have to take a deep breath and try again,” says Abhijeet.

Occasionally, IFG members meet outside the web forum, in the real world. Members from Delhi and Bangalore take trips to shooting ranges once in a while. Since that manly thing called hunting has been rendered illegal, the enthusiasts satisfy themselves by shooting clay pigeons or fishing. On these trips, they make a lot of fun of each other, like men usually do. And in between the jibes, they keep exchanging curious facts like how the American town of Kennesaw is also called gun city because of an ordinance in 1982 that made it mandatory for every head of household to own a firearm, and how this ordinance was in response to the town of Morton Grove banning the possession of handguns.

The members of the IFG probably dream of heavens like Kennesaw. Secretly, many of them long to be in Africa, “where you can shoot anything,” as a member says, or in the US where you don’t need a licence to get a gun. India makes them feel like deviants. In the same country where, the members say, even Gandhi endorsed gun ownership, they have to grapple with a perpetual politically incorrect status. “Owning a firearm in India is falsely associated with having bad intentions or being fabulously wealthy,” says 25-yearold Zubin Postwalla, who owns air-rifles and a double barrelled shotgun. Actually, it helps being wealthy if you love guns. Prices in India are dictated by a demand that is many times the supply. “Guns cost 10 to 20 times more in India than the US. For instance, a Walther PPK .32 cal pistol which sells at $ 800 in the States, costs anywhere between Rs 4 to 5 lakh here,” says Postwalla.

Even so, a healthy bank balance is only half the battle won. Barring a certain category of target shooters, Indians are restricted to one handgun, one shotgun and one rifle. Getting an arms licence means wading through red tape and some serious palm-greasing. “In some parts like UP and Bihar, the only way to get a gun licence is to undergo a vasectomy,” says Asif Ali, a doctor, about one of the abnormal incentives used by the state governments for population control. These ownership laws of India, says Abhijeet, find their roots in colonial times when the Raj wanted to keep Indians from procuring arms. Only the loyal subjects of the empire could get a gun.

A bitter joke in the community is that “if someone is a law abiding gun owner, he is treated as a criminal. If he owns illegal guns, he becomes an MP.” The issue of licences to persons of dubious character at the behest of crooked politicians has wounded the pride of traditional gun owners. “The government is busy rewarding criminals while the licence procedures assume that we are potentially guilty even if we have a valid reason like self-defence,” says Abhijeet. Firearms need serious revisions of existing laws, he says. To be eligible to import a target grade weapon, one must qualify within the top 25 or 50 target shooters in that category. “But how will budding shooters qualify if they don’t train well? They have to borrow the guns to train today.”

Inevitably, there are comic situations. A year ago, after Bangalore’s Rustam Bana bought a rifle, he had taken it to the Arms section at the Commissioner’s office to have it endorsed on his licence. The clerk held the rifle, looked it up and down and asked, “Is this a shotgun or a pistol, saar?” Rustam says, “I can understand if he was unsure about it being a rifle or a shotgun but mistaking it for a pistol really knocked me for a six.” There are very few women on IFG, but the men insist it has nothing to do with the perception that the gun is a male toy. “Anybody can pull a trigger,” says Inderjeet Singh. In fact, they say women are known to be better shooters. But the jolly old IFG boys don’t seem to miss their presence too much. In a way, they prefer guns to women. “At least, you can buy a silencer for a gun,” someone says. TNN

http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s311/abhijeetsm/toi/getimage-1.jpg




Plenty of loopholes in the writing, but a still a welcome break from the constant negative press gun owners keep getting in India.

Cheers!
Abhijeet

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obxned
May 8, 2007, 05:52 PM
How did a person of Korean descent give people of Indian descent a bad name? I'm just a dumb American with mostly German and English ancestors, but even I know India and Korea are miles apart in location, culture, history, languages, and cuisines.

Heck, this is America. I'm not even embarrassed by having those English ancestors, in spite of the fact that so far they are the only ones who have attacked and burned the White House.

Sure hope that the Secret Service frisked that old British broad that was visiting Bush - she might have had a concealed BIC.

K-Romulus
May 8, 2007, 05:57 PM
That was a positive article?! :what: Holy moly, I thought we had it bad . . . .

Maddock
May 8, 2007, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the article and link, abhijeet. Your website http://www.abhijeetsingh.com/arms/india/ is also worth a read.

MikeH
May 8, 2007, 06:18 PM
How did a person of Korean descent give people of Indian descent a bad name? I'm just a dumb American with mostly German and English ancestors, but even I know India and Korea are miles apart in location, culture, history, languages, and cuisines.

I'd think when the author wrote "Cho had given people like them a bad name", she was referring to firearms owners, not Koreans or Indians.

abhijeet
May 8, 2007, 06:40 PM
Yep! Mike you are right - she (the author is a woman) - was referring to firearm owners in general, and not to Cho's ethnicity.

Honestly, we do consider this a pretty positive article down here! I would seriously doubt that ANY state in the USA could have as restrictive gun laws as India does! Wait up you say?! How about CA/ NY/ DC for example? Well, if one reads the letter of the law here, then maybe yes - those areas are indeed more restrictive (in certain ways) - HOWEVER, the law here leaves the final decision at the discretion of whether or not to issue a permit - COMPLETELY - in the hands of bureaucrats! This has ensured that unless you are well connected OR can manage to bribe someone - you have a very very slim chance of getting a license to own a firearm. Allow me to give you a statistic - as per Delhi Police records (the arms licensing authority in Delhi) - there were ONLY 55,000 arms license holders in Delhi in 2002! This is one of the wealthiest cities in India and one with a population of a shade under 2 million.... the same Delhi Police commissioner WENT ON RECORD to say that in Delhi (as per police estimates) the total number ILLEGAL (unlicensed) firearms in the city was at least FOUR TIMES the number of LEGAL firearms - of course I would doubt the police estimates, and personally think that the number of illegal firearms would be much higher.... The simple fact is the law is unable to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, only penalising law abiding citizens and preventing them from defending themselves!

The usual media attitude (here) towards guns/ gun ownership is almost pure unadulterated IANSA propaganda! There are some good guys in the media here too, and some of them actually know their guns, but they are few and far between... and mostly overridden by editorial pressures for better circulations/ higher viewer ratings etc.

Cheers!
Abhijeet

abhijeet
May 8, 2007, 06:43 PM
Maddock, glad to hear you enjoyed reading that... and thanks for the kudos :)

Cheers!
Abhijeet

Run&Shoot
May 8, 2007, 06:53 PM
Great post! I enjoy hearing from fellow gun owners in other countries, and we don't hear from India very often. Good to learn about IFG and that someone there is trying to win public support and maybe get some laws changed.

Excellent point brought out about how gun restrictions date back to the colonial times and control of the population (subjects) by the Raj. that is a principle we gun owners need to reiterate always: no guns = subjects, guns = citizens.

Thanks for the good read!

abhijeet
May 8, 2007, 07:23 PM
Run&Shoot,

Most welcome @ "good read" ;)

It's an unpopular cause, the thing that really gets most of us is - even most gun owners one meets here are not for RKBA!! :O

They of course almost always belong to the privileged classes and the concept of the masses having access to firearms disturbs them greatly! :P When a fellow gun owners begin to talk like that...

Anyhow, gotta scoot now - getting late, and I have a document to wrap up before I can hit the sack without feeling guilty.... ;)

Cheers!
Abhijeet

slabsides
May 8, 2007, 08:29 PM
Somewhat easy to understand restrictive firearms laws in a country so crammed with people. Where would one go to hunt or shoot? Let's be thankful that here in the US we still have wide open spaces!

Cosmoline
May 8, 2007, 08:42 PM
Excellent post. I'm glad to see some bastions of sanity around the world. It's also good to be reminded that the sort of firearm I regard as little more than fodder for horse trading is a treasured item elsewhere. That PPK they mention runs about $250 here. The market is full of postwar PPK's right now. But elsewhere getting a legal pistol is like getting a legal machine gun stateside.

Where would one go to hunt or shoot?

I don't think it's too easy. I had some business dealings with a fellow from India who envied my state's hunting laws. He found it ironic that so many of India's national parks only existed because they had been established as shooting preserves, but hunting anything now--at least legally--was troublesome.

ripcurlksm
May 8, 2007, 09:05 PM
Welcome to the High Road Abhijeet!

Dorryn
May 8, 2007, 09:28 PM
Abhijeet:
I would seriously doubt that ANY state in the USA could have as restrictive gun laws as India does! Wait up you say?! How about CA/ NY/ DC for example?

Actually, NY is in much better shape than Massachussetts, CA, DC, and poor, poor Illinois.

And none of the above require a vasectomy! Although ive seen a few irresponsible gun owners who I would have recommended it for.

iamkris
May 8, 2007, 09:45 PM
abhijeet

Welcome!! If you are ever in the Northern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin area for business or pleasure, feel free to drop us a note.

I'd be happy to treat you to a day of shooting (or pheasant hunting). I might even have an Ishy 2A in here somewhere down in the mil-surp pile we could wring out.

Gator
May 8, 2007, 11:47 PM
Great story, thanks for posting it! Its nice to know there are other members of the gun culture around the world. :)

Sylvan-Forge
May 9, 2007, 08:38 AM
Greetings abhijeet!

Thanks for sharing that article. IFG sounds like it has many things in common with THR.

jpk1md
May 9, 2007, 09:10 AM
I love the last line of the article...I'll probably catch heck for the reprint but :neener:

In a way, they prefer guns to women.“At least, you can buy a silencer for a gun,”

Class 3 in India?

hso
May 9, 2007, 09:50 AM
Well done!

abhijeet
May 9, 2007, 09:54 AM
Slabsides - Yep, India has more than a billion people! However, allow me to point out that India is where the big game hunt was invented, unfortunately due to poor wildlife management (post-independence) we have lost most of our forest cover - to petty greed and political expedience! :fire: Currently all forms of hunting are illegal in India, which further exacerbates the problem - when the hunters leave, the poachers come right in!

But that's another issue altogether, the vast majority of firearms owners purchase/ desire to purchase arms for self-defence and denying them the right to do that is nothing short of denying them the basic human right of one being able to protect oneself/ ones family/ property. The ruling elite would almost always want to deny this right to the masses as this makes them (the masses) even more dependant on them for even their basic security... enslavement is a strong word, but one I would not shy away from using here!

Cosmoline, thank you for the appreciation - a member at IFG was recently offered close to US$ 20,000/- for his PPK/S (in .22 cal)!! :what: These crazy prices prevail here because the govt. has throttled domestic production (the only passable Indian made arms & ammo are a govt. monopoly) and banned all imports... an indirect way of ensuring that firearms are kept out of reach of the masses. In contrast a good imported pistol (in any calibre) ON THE BLACK MARKET would go for around US$ 1,000/-!! Makes you wonder who is being rewarded and who is being punished by these laws... :cuss:

Ripcurlksm, Thanks for the welcome! :)

Dorryn, LOL @ "Although ive seen a few irresponsible gun owners who I would have recommended it for" Guess we all have... :evil:

iamkris, Thank you for the welcome and your very generous offer! :) I do have a few dear friends in the Chicago 'burbs and if I ever come down to visit them, I'll be sure to drop you a line.

Gator & 007 - It's always a pleasure to connect with fellow enthusiasts and pro-gunners :)

Cheers!
Abhijeet

Creeping Incrementalism
May 9, 2007, 12:12 PM
“In some parts like UP and Bihar, the only way to get a gun licence is to undergo a vasectomy,” :what: Quick, we need a comedian to make a joke about this.
would seriously doubt that ANY state in the USA could have as restrictive gun laws as India does! Wait up you say?! How about CA/ NY/ DC for example?

DC actually has a total and complete ban on handgun transfer, while it appears to be at least possibly in India. But other than that I don't think anyone would doubt that India is far more restrictive than anywhere in the U.S.

Also, by the standards of metropolitan California, I would also consider that definitely a positive article on civillian firearms ownership. I'm impressed that the reporter mentioned Ghandi was pro-RKBA.

Werewolf
May 9, 2007, 01:34 PM
And an interesting read. I wish those guys in IFG the best of luck in their pursuit of RKBA.

This caught my attention:In fact, they say women are known to be better shooters. But the jolly old IFG boys don’t seem to miss their presence too much. In a way, they prefer guns to women. “At least, you can buy a silencer for a gun,” someone says.
:)

Seems women are the same the world over. :cool:

coelacanth
May 10, 2007, 12:15 AM
Welcome to THR, abhijeet! We hope you continue to grace us with your presence and hope to see some members of the group in the article around here as well.

White Horseradish
May 11, 2007, 12:15 AM
the only passable Indian made arms & ammo are a govt. monopoly
As it happens, we do see Indian guns here time to time. For instance, I have an Indian Hi-Power pistol. Unfortunately, as any government-made product, it leaves a lot to be desired in the fit and finish department. Shoots accurately, though.

This is pretty fascinating. You really don't hear too much about Indian gun owners, and now we know why.

Travis McGee
May 11, 2007, 12:21 AM
Not only was I knocked out by the clear content and pro-gun orientation of the essay, I was totally blown away by the writer's superb grasp of the English language. If he is any indication of India's educational system, they are going to be world-beaters.

Travis McGee
May 11, 2007, 12:23 AM
Abhijeet,
I wrote the above before realizing you were the self-same author and poster.

Well done sir! And welcome to The High Road!

Beagle-zebub
May 11, 2007, 01:05 AM
We do have it really good in much of America in terms of firearms laws, but you guys have pretty great pharmaceutical laws, at least from the standpoint of the consumer. (I'm making this assertion based upon an article I read in Smithsonian magazine.) I have to get a prescription for every new bottle of face-medicine and every new asthma inhaler, despite their obviously benign nature. Pseudo-socialist politicians in America demand that the state provide healthcare for Americans at our grossly inflated rates (twice what those in the UK pay), but would never even consider liberalising our drug laws to the point where people could afford healthcare without having to kneel at the altar of the state.

coelacanth
May 11, 2007, 01:08 AM
I believe abhijeet identified herself as well, herself.:cool:

abhijeet
May 11, 2007, 04:02 PM
Errr... I am very much a "he" ;) However the article I posted above has not been written by me, it was penned by a journalist by the name of Ms. Sharmila Ganesan. We (the other IFG members and I) were interviewed by her over the period of a week prior to her writing the piece... Hope this helps clarify any confusion as to gender :D

Cheers!
Abhijeet

coelacanth
May 13, 2007, 02:22 AM
:banghead:

pax
May 13, 2007, 02:46 AM
Abhijeet, good to see you posting on THR. :)

That's a great article. As I was reading it, I was thinking how brave you & your friends were to be interviewed for such an article, given India's anti-gun climate. It really could have been a hatchet job instead of the nice article it turned out to be! Thanks for taking the risk of educating a few folks, and thanks for sharing it with us.

pax

PS I like your sig line quote, too.

abhijeet
May 13, 2007, 03:43 AM
Hi Pax,

The pleasure is all mine :) I've been pointing several anti-gun women to your personal site for some time now. The articles there are well written and it really helps debunk the male only "macho" perception about guns (and gun ownership), that most people in India seem to suffer from. The gun terms glossary you have there is also handy for newbies :)

You are right about it having been a bit of a gamble, and most of our members were initially quite reluctant to talk to her. But in the end it was a gamble we decided had to be taken, as there was simply no one out there speaking out for gun owners! But we really did not know for sure what angle she was going to take - till the time we saw the article in print...

Cheers!
Abhijeet

SAG0282
May 13, 2007, 06:35 AM
Welcome! That was a REALLY fascinating article, thanks for posting.

Mannix
May 13, 2007, 07:01 AM
Welcome, the article and site were certainly worth reading.

Doggy Daddy
May 13, 2007, 01:57 PM
Creeping Incrementalism

“In some parts like UP and Bihar, the only way to get a gun licence is to undergo a vasectomy,”

Quick, we need a comedian to make a joke about this.

You know, some say that if you can't ban the gun, the next best thing is to ban the ammunition... :D

Doggy Daddy
May 13, 2007, 01:58 PM
And I don't want to know ANYTHING about reloading!

pax
May 13, 2007, 02:00 PM
Funny stuff, but ...

I don't believe Art's Grammaw (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=270523) would be happy with any further jokes along those lines.

Thanks.

pax

Doggy Daddy
May 13, 2007, 02:03 PM
I tried to tread a fine line.

I apologize to Art's grammaw.

pax
May 13, 2007, 02:08 PM
No prob, Doggy -- just wanted to make sure the next guy that came along didn't trip over the line without realizing it was there.

pax

Afy
May 13, 2007, 04:40 PM
Abhijeet

Where abouts do you shoot?
While I was living in India I did own amongst other things an M1A Garand, and M1 Carbine both semi auto. I also had a 9 mm Luger... which I am sure you realise would make me a little different.

I know the Srifort trap/skeet range but cant figure out where youre shooting.

I no longer live in India, and do still actively shoot. Mainly .22 lr or 300 WM.

abhijeet
May 14, 2007, 11:10 AM
Hi Afy,

The Shirfort range is only a 10 metre airguns only range. In the days when I'd participate competitively, I used to shoot at the HH Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Ranges at Tughlaqabad - but haven't been there since about '95 or so... The ranges at Tuglaqabad are the only (open to public) ranges in Delhi with Trap/ Skeet facilities. There is also a privately owned range built and run by Naveen Jindal of the Jindal business group, but that is only for his personal use and anyone he chooses to invite there ;) Though I hear he has permitted the Indian squad to train there...

Yep, owning a semi-automatic long gun is unusual here as they are classified as "Prohibited Bore" (PB) weapons along with all guns capable of chambering and firing any military calibre ammo... so all three guns mentioned by you would have been particularly difficult to acquire licenses for.... Are the Garand , Carbine and 9mm on your Dad's or Grandad's licenses? Or are they actually entered on your own?

I had my Grandad's 1991A1 Colt in .45 transferred to my name several years ago and frankly the process was not an easy or pleasant one! The Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Licensing branch, while forwarding my application to the Home Ministry, told me that he too had applied for a PB license some years back and that it was rejected!! But I persisted and in the end prevailed! :)

Where are you based now? USA?

Cheers!
Abhijeet

P.S. - Thank you to all those here who have extended such a warm welcome - this is a friendly bunch indeed, a real pleasure being here! :)

ArfinGreebly
May 14, 2007, 06:47 PM
“At least, you can buy a silencer for a gun,”
Koff, koff.

There's got to be a good Title 3 joke in there somewhere . . .

Not as though that one isn't good in and of itself.

Koff.

Chuckle.

:D

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