I am not much of a gun enthusiast. I don’t hunt, I don’t own a collection of firearms, I don’t belong to the NRA, and I don’t think that major metropolitan areas would be better off if everyone was packing heat. But the recent atrocities in Mumbai make the pro-gun case rather forcefully. Just read this Wall Street Journal article which cites incident after incident where the gunmen had free reign because security guards and even police officers were unarmed.
To take just two examples:
The two gunmen moved along two separate paths toward the station’s main entrance, firing as they walked. They met virtually no resistance, even though several dozen police officers are usually deployed at the station. “They were killing the public, and the police just ran away,” says Ram Vir, a coffee vendor whose stand is near Platform 8.
B.S. Sidhu, head of the Railway Protection Force for the Mumbai region, says that while some officers tried to fight back, there was little his force could do. Most police officers at the station — as they are throughout India — were unarmed or carried only bamboo sticks known as lathis.
At about 9:45 p.m., two gunmen, slender and in their mid-20s, ran up the circular driveway at the entrance to the Trident. They shot the security guard and two bellhops. The hotel had metal detectors, but none of its security personnel carried weapons because of the difficulties in obtaining gun permits from the Indian government, according to the hotel company’s chairman, P.R.S. Oberoi.
India may be hewing a bit too closely to the British tradition–itself now being modified–of “bobbies” on the beat going unarmed. While I remain skeptical of handing out weapons to the general public–unless, as in Israel, a lot of the members of that public are army reservists–the Mumbai massacre certainly makes the case for arming security personnel.