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Punjab Residents Must Plant 10 Trees Before Getting a Gun License in India

Punjab Residents Must Plant 10 Trees Before Getting a Gun License in India

Photo courtesy of McKay Savage, Wikimedia Commons.

Prospective gun owners in the Ferozepur district of Punjab, India must plant 10 sapling trees and take selfies to submit in with their firearm applications.

If that’s not enough, one month later applicants must take another round of selfies for each tree to prove that the saplings are growing healthily, noted the Indian Express, which spoke to a would-be firearms owner who planted different varieties of trees at his house, near his farm and along the village road.

The conditions about trees was implemented in June by Ferozepur District Commissioner Chander Gaind, who was quoted in the newspaper as saying the effort is meant to increase green cover in the area.

In another example, involved a 47-year-old farmer named Tajinder Singh, who applied for a gun license because he needed a revolver for self-defense. “While tending to his 20 acres of land, he often had to walk long hours to reach home after nightfall. He wanted to protect himself from wild animals and bands of armed robbers. Once the background checks were completed in June this year, Singh was told he had to fulfill one more condition to get his gun,” noted NPR, referring to the tree-planting requirement.

Apparently Punjab has 360,000 licensed firearm holders, the third highest number in India. The area has lost many trees that were cut down to make way for paved roads.

Commissioner Gaind told the local news media: “Punjabis are crazy about big guns and big cars. We want them to be crazy about planting trees too.”

So far of the 100 people who have applied for firearm permits under the new mandate, 50 have been approved. These numbers also indicated that 1,000 trees have been planted by the firearm permit applicants.

The new trees are seen as important to improving India’s groundwater problem. Much of India has been facing a crisis due to lack of groundwater. According to a 2018 report from NITI Aayog (the Indian government’s policy think tank), many states in India–including Punjab–are in serious danger. The report states that “21 major cities are expected to run out of groundwater as soon as 2020, affecting some100 million people.”

Commissioner Gaind said the new rule is for new applicants only, but likely will be added to the requirements to renew firearms licenses.

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