The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai instigated an intense debate on the role of gun laws in South Asia. Notoriously strict, domestic gun laws in South Asia were created during British colonialism. Many citizens feel these gun laws attempted to suppress citizens rather than protect them.
Many pro-gun individuals claim that the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that killed or wounded hundreds of people could have been avoided if stringent gun laws did not exist. Although South Asia has been a target of numerous large-scale terrorist attacks in recent years, the open-nature of the Mumbai attack hit a nerve in pro-gun lobbies worldwide. The argument against gun laws in this instance hinges on the perception that if citizens were able to hold guns, the terrorists would have been neutralized or even deterred before completing their heinous objective.
Individuals that support gun laws would say that this argument exceeds any practical reading of the situation that unfolded in Mumbai. Would rescinding gun laws, allowing civilians to carry firearms, deter terrorist thinking? It appears that some feel that throwing more guns into a world that clearly has a gun problem lacks common sense.
Statistics shows that the majority of murders are committed with illegally acquired guns. Pro-gun lobbies in South Asia note this phenomenon and feel the best way to neutralize this affront would be to level the playing field and allow all citizens to acquire firearms. Still, the argument for gun laws remind people that the cause of the hundreds of deaths in South Asia were not gun laws, but guns.
Looking at the history of gun laws in South Asia offers an added perception to the debate. South Asia first witnessed gun laws following an Indian rebellion against the British crown. In this instance, its safe to assume that the British created gun laws for their benefit rather than India’s safety. Current pro-gun individuals in South Asia point to this as a perpetuation of colonial thinking and oppressive to civil liberties. This does not offer conclusive evidence to do away with South Asia gun laws. The deduction could be that the key component of the gun laws is safety, regardless of its intent.
Other disagreements with gun laws stem from the theoretical monopoly that the India government maintains in arms production.
The balance between civil liberty and safety can not be reduced to any single argument. Both sides of the debate surrounding gun laws in South Asia rely on theoretical evaluations of what if’s. Also, different interpretations of what safety and liberty truly mean in society differ too drastically to ever quell this debate.
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