Gunning for Fair Arms Ownership in India

Gunning for Fair Arms Ownership in India

Anvita Cowshish, a young lawyer practising at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India, decided to obtain a gun license in 2017 when she inherited a couple of her maternal grandfather’s civilian firearms. While the men in her family wanted to dispose of the heirloom guns, as they were deemed a “burden,” Cowshish wanted to keep the firearms because of the rising number of crimes against women in the country. However, the Delhi-based lawyer is discovering that the upkeep of the old guns is an uphill task. The guns were bought in England in the 1970s, much before the Indian government prohibited import of guns by civilians in 1986 (the ban continues with exemptions for national and international shooters and government agencies). “Not only is there a ban on import of firearms by civilians, we can’t even source spare parts for firearms from abroad,” she says. “A crack has developed on my British shotgun and I have no choice but to opt for locally made spare parts for repair.” She adds that civilians with valid gun licences in India can’t get weapons of their choice easily. Either they have to approach Indian ordnance factories and wait, in most cases, for years for their guns; or settle for poor-quality second-hand firearms that their owners wish to dispose of. Cowshish is not alone. She is among many licensed gun owners in India who complain of being forced to make do with antiquated foreign firearms bought before the ban […]

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