Owners have been asked to surrender weapons ahead of Lok Sabha elections

Here is a hard-nosed, steely fact for you: There are over 2,700 people who have fully-loaded firearms. Guns used by people in the city can be seen in action at the firing range of Madras Rifle Club, Egmore, where the headquarters of Chennai City Police was once located.

With elections around the corner, gun holders have been asked to surrender their weapons to the police, a practice that is followed every time elections are announced all over the country, Chennai city police sources said.

Police officials told The Hindu that owners can purchase guns only after getting the necessary permits. While for most, it is a hobby, some others purchase them for their own safety. Businessmen and politicians top the list of people in the city who possess guns. Official statistics given by the police reveal there are 2,743 licensed weapon holders. They broadly come under the category of single and double barrel muzzle loading guns, .32 mm revolvers and types of pistols.

The order gives exemption to security guards attached with logistics firms transporting cash to Automated Teller Machines apart from personnel on sentry duty at banks and other sensitive spots. Till March 20, 1,286 guns have been surrendered with the police. Receipts are issued to the owners and the weapons are placed under safe custody by the police. The weapons will be returned to the respective owners once the elections are over. Those failing to surrender their guns are likely to face punitive action from the police.

The owners get their ammunition from a few government-permitted private shops in the city. Details of the bullets purchased by the owner are also maintained at the nearest police station. Special teams drawn from the anti-gangster squads will also be keeping a close watch on the movement of habitual offenders. “They have been given instructions to see if any notorious gangsters lay their hands on sophisticated or even “country-made” crude weapons, officials added.

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