From Sauvik’s blog: The Union Home Ministry is thinking of making the process of applying for gun ownership even more bureaucratic. I am uncomfortable with unrestricted gun ownership, but Sauvik Chakraverti makes some valid arguments:

Think about it: What this means is that if someone in Manipur or Kerala feels a threat to his life and wants to buy a gun to protect himself, he must go to New Delhi to apply for the license! The only people exempted from this are the VIPs. And all this is being done surreptitiously, behind closed doors, bypassing Parliament. Note that the minister in charge is a socialist lawyer. (The minister in charge of “miseducation” is also a socialist lawyer.) So, just as socialist economists are playing dangerous games with the economy, socialist lawyers are playing dangerous games with the law.

He notes, correctly, that security is owned by the state. The problem is that where security fails — and we know it does often — there is no fallback for an ordinary citizen. He is at the mercy of outlaws. That is a huge hole in our security model.

On the other hand, if unrestricted gun ownership were allowed, I shudder to think of where the market might lead it to. An irresponsible (or even bad-tempered) gun owner is an ambassador of death. And I can’t think of reasonable restrictions to avoid the issue. Perhaps a certain level of education to own a gun? But that’d fail for most citizens who live in regions of perennial violence — such as the farmer quoted in the example.

The problem as I see it, is that the risk of gun-ownership is asymmetric. Which means that the risk of an incorrect decision by a gun-owner is more dangerous.

But on the flip side, all rules imposed to disallow unrestricted gun ownership are similar to airport security: They only affect citizens like you and I. An outlaw can always circumvent rules. A fair tradeoff between citizens’ concerns and which deters criminals is a reasonable model. With the new rules that the Union Home Ministry is implementing, it isn’t a fair tradeoff.

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On a lighter note, a reader of Sauvik’s blog (a haven for libertarian thoughts) attended Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi — the breeding ground of communists. There is much situational comedy.

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