Delhi Women Gun For Licenses; Rape Triggers Big Rush To Acquire Arms

NEW DELHI (TIP): The horrific attack on Nirbhaya has led to a spurt in requests for gun licenses from women. Since December 18, the day the news of the brutal gang rape appeared in newspapers, the licensing department of Delhi Police has received a total of 274 applications from women. In addition, it has also been flooded with hundreds of queries on how to obtain a license. “We have received over 1,200 calls since that day. These include not only the average working woman, but even students who travel long distances to colleges and even their concerned parents. They were eager to find out more on the procedure to acquire arms,” said a Delhi police officer. Delhi police sources say hundreds more had turned up at their office itself. “We had to patiently tell them that one needs to have a clear danger to one’s life to be given a licence. However, some of the parents were not happy with our replies. They said that with even public transport no longer safe in the city, they just cannot take chances.When we told them this could not be reason enough, we were told to give in writing that their daughters were indeed safe on Delhi’s roads,” said a source.

20% increase in self-defence classes in city
A member of the National Association for Gun Rights India claimed women were discriminated against. “Men are issued more gun licences than women in Delhi even if the later have genuine reasons to apply for them,” said a member. “The fact that even parents are ready to hand over weapons to their daughters shows they are living in fear. There is a 20% increase in self-defence courses across the city,” added the source. In the past two years, Delhi cops have received over 800 applications for guns from women. While the year 2010 saw around 320 applications, the figure had risen to around 500 in 2011.

But it’s not only the numbers that’s a break from the past. There’s a change as well in the reasons cited. “Women earlier mostly cited the inheritance clause — saying their fathers or husbands had a licence which they want to continue holding. Many women applying under this clause were proxies for men. But of late women are citing ‘self-defence’ to apply for a licence,” said an officer in the licencing department.In general, 20- 22% of all applicants are now women. Since the past two weeks, the percentage has shot up to around 35%. The officer said 27 licences were issued to women in 2010. Of these, 17 applied under the inheritance clause. Till July this year, five women were granted licences for personal threats. In 2010 and 2011, over 600 applications were rejected as no “personal safety threat was assessed”.

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