Over at Churmuri, there is a post titled Will allowing guns make India a better country? which, I think is the stupidest post I have read in quite a while. There are several things that are wrong with the post.
First is the argument that
Arms Act is one that is perhaps most “colonial” in nature.
While it might be true that the current Arms Act is a colonial legacy, other countries have their own gun control laws too: wiki lists at least a dozen countries under the title gun politics, from which it is clear that UK, Australia, Germany, and Canada, for example have stringent rules governing the possession and ownership of guns. And, just because something is a colonial legacy does not automatically make it wrong.
Second, to argue
After the experience of the 1857 Revolt, the colonial regime obviously did not want us natives to get our hands on too many weapons which we could use to threaten the regime.
The Arms Act of 1878 was one way of depriving Indians the means to attack and challenge an oppressive and exploitative regime. This becomes even more obvious when we see that the same restrictions do not apply to “Europeans” living in India. This was not a unique Indian experience as the native populace was routinely disarmed by the victorious colonisers.
When we attained Independence, through mostly peaceful means, the Government thought it fit to continue this colonial policy, albeit without the discrimination between Indians and Europeans. The Indian state was supposed to be the sole wielder of violent force, and would use it to come to the defence of the weak and oppressed against their enemies.
is nothing but a confusion of history of gun control with the efficacy of the policy; in the beginning, gun control might have been imposed by the victorious (as in Germany, for example, due to Treaty of Versailes); it might also have been discriminatory (as in Germany again, where Jews were explicitly forbidden to own and carry guns); however, that does not mean that gun control, as a policy, as it exists today, is wrong or bad. Thus, whatever be the reasons for a particular piece of legislation, we need to examine it on its own merits before making decisions, and not blindly as “This was done for a wrong reason; so, it must be a bad law”. In that sense, our politicians, immediately after Independence, seemed to have had the correct perspective regarding the Arms Act.
Third is the argument that
Why do you need guns when you got the police?
Unfortunately, we have seen that it is not so. We have seen the State take the side of the oppressors against the oppressed. We have seen the State actively disarm threatened minorities (Sikhs in Punjab, Muslims in Gujarat,), and idly stand by as atrocities are committed by a rampaging mob (against Dalits).
In any civilized country with an independent judiciary and police force, there is no need for the citizens to carry guns (unless they show enough reasons to justify their carrying one, in which case, they can get a permit, anyway). To say that the State takes the side of oppressors is not only a stupid generalisation, but misses the point completely. If the State is indeed corrupt and supports the oppressors, what is to stop the State from using gun control laws to arm oppressors; how is gun control going to help the oppressed? And, does it not finally boil down to the economics? In a country where the farmers keep committing suicide, and so many live below the poverty line, how does removing Arms Act going to help them? Instead, does it not help the already rich to amass weapons, which can then be used as effective threats?
And then, there is more stupidity of the following sort:
Generally, violence of any sort in India is almost inevitably mob violence. It is rarely, if ever, the single maniac, or a single serial killer. Generally, it is not even called “violence” until the other side hits back. That is when “agitations”, “movements”, etc become “warfare”, “riots” and the like.
I do not know if there is enough evidence to show that all violence in India is mob violence (Isn’t it convenient? We are such nice individuals, that to be violent, we have to be part of a mob!). And, to argue that there is no single maniac or serial killer in India is again a baseless assertion without enough statistics to convince me. Finally, the redefinition of violence is such that you can safely say that violence was never practised against Gandhi or many of his followers, for example, since, they, in general, never hit back.
Finally, the fascinating non-legal argument that they quote is the stupidest:
Presenting Judge Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the US court of appeals in the ninth circuit.
A maverick in his own right, Judge Kozinski is well known for his judgments in intellectual property law, constitutional law and competition Law, but one judgment of his in particular struck me as I read it. More specifically, a couple of passages in his dissenting opinion in the case of Silviera v. Lockyer where he makes a fascinating non-legal argument against State control of gun ownership.
“…the simple truth-born of experience-is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people. Our [American] own sorry history bears this out: Disarmament was the tool of choice for subjugating both slaves and free blacks in the South. In Florida, patrols searched blacks’ homes for weapons, confiscated those found and punished their owners without judicial process….
“All too many of the other great tragedies of history-Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few-were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece… If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.
“… few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed-where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”
We are living in a democracy and to say that the government, to prove that it is not tyrannical, should not have gun control is no argument at all. See the Wiki page on American gun control policies, especially the one on security against tyranny and invasion, for example.
I expected much better from Churmuri than this kind of stupid drivel! So, I now have to ask Is Churmuri becoming the Hindu of Indian blogdom? — a once venerable institution that is fast becoming unreliable and mindless!
Tags: gun control