- In March 2023, a mass shooting occurred in a school in Nashville (in Tennessee, United States) killing 7 people. The attack was America’s 129th mass shooting of 2023.
- Also, the Punjab Government cancelled the 813 gun licenses across the state in a bid to clamp down on the “gun culture” in the state.
Gun violence in US
- No other developed country in the world has anywhere near the same rate of gun violence as the US.
- 48,830 people died from gun-related injuries in the US during 2021. While mass shootings and gun murders (homicides) generally garner much media attention, more than half of the total in 2021 were suicides.
- In each of the last three years, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the US, almost two a day on average. Mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more people are injured or killed. This includes shootings that happen in homes and in public places.
Reasons for Gun Violence in US
- The US ratio of 120.5 firearms per 100 residents is the highest in the world. There are around 390 million guns in circulation in the US..
- In New York State Rifle v. Bruen (2022), the US Supreme Court ruled that the ability to carry a pistol in public was a constitutional right under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.
- Federal law prohibits certain people from owning firearms: those with certain kinds of criminal records or mental illness. However the system has major holes like incomplete listing of these people, no background check.
- Most gun controls exist at the state level. However, the laws on carrying weapons vary enormously. Most states allow anyone who legally owns a gun to carry it openly, in public, without requiring a license or permit.
- Gun rights advocates, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), form a powerful gun lobby in the United States that politicians fear to cross.
- The gun lobby argues that the weapons actually make society safer, giving people the power of self-defence, and dissuading criminals from victimizing people who might be armed.
- There is a rise in life hardships related to pandemic, finances, employment or family and relationships, due to which people respond violently.
Gun culture in Punjab
- The Punjab government has been under pressure over “worsening” law and order after the murders of kabaddi player Sandeep Nangal Ambian in March 2022 and singer Sidhu Moosewala in May 2022. According to official data, there are more than 3.5 Lakhs arms licenses in Punjab.
- In November 2022, the Punjab government ordered a complete ban on the public display of weapons and songs glorifying violence.
Indian Arms Act of 1959
- Following the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the British enforced the Arms Act of 1878 disallowing any Indian from possessing firearms unless the British were convinced of his/her loyalty to the Crown. Post-Independence, this law was scrapped and the Indian Arms Act, 1959 was passed.
- Under this Act, no person can acquire or carry any ammunition unless he holds a licence.
- An amendment to the Act in 2019 reduced the number of permitted firearms from three to one and provided a period of one year to deposit the excess firearms. The amendment also increased the duration of validity of a firearm license, from three to five years.
- Sale/possession of firearms is prohibited for: Anyone below the age of 21; 4. Anyone who is of unsound mind; and Anyone sentenced and convicted of crimes involving violence or moral depravity, who has not completed five years after the end of their sentence.
- Punishment: Individuals who violate the Act can face at least seven years of imprisonment which may be extended to life.
Arms Rules, 2016
- In 2016, the Centre issued new Arms Rules, 2016, superseding the Arms Rules, 1962, whereby applying for an arms license, rifle club, association, or firing range required one to complete a safety training course involving safe handling and carrying procedures.
- Arms which are part of the ordinary equipment of any sea-faring vessel or aircraft are exempted under the Act.
- Sportspersons (international medallists/renowned shooters) are allowed to carry firearms for shooting practice.
- Persons who are under orders of the Central government, public servants or members of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) are also exempt from the provisions of this Act.