Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Governance [Paper-I]: Public Policy and Governance, Imporatant Acts
Lok Sabha passed Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
About the Bill
- The Bill seeks to amend the Arms Act, 1959.
- It seeks to decrease the number of licensed firearms allowed per person and increase penalties for certain offences under the Act. It also introduces new categories of offences.
License for acquiring firearms
- A person can have a maximum of two guns, against the three allowed currently.
- If a person possesses three or more, the extra guns have to be deposited with authorities or authorised gun dealers within 90 days for de-licensing.
- The Bill also increases the duration of the validity of a firearm license from three years to five years.
Ban on firearms
- The Bill prohibits obtaining or procuring un-licensed firearms, and the conversion of one category of firearms to another without a license.
- It allows members of rifle clubs or associations to use any firearm for target practice instead of only point 22 bore rifles or air rifles.
Increase in punishment
- The Act specifies the punishment for
- dealing in un-licensed firearms, including their manufacture, procurement, sale, transfer, conversion
- the shortening or conversion of a firearm without a licence
- import or export of banned firearms
- The Bill increases the punishment for these offences under the act from ‘between three years and seven years, along with a fine’ to ‘between seven years and life imprisonment, along with a fine’.
- The Bill increases the punishment for acquisition, possession or carrying of prohibited ammunition without a license from ‘imprisonment between five and ten years, along with fine’ to ‘imprisonment between seven and 14 years, along with fine’.
- The Act punishes dealing in prohibited firearms (including their manufacture, sale and repair) without a license, with imprisonment between seven years and life imprisonment, along with fine. The Bill increases the minimum punishment from seven years to 10 years.
- The Bill added news offences which includes
- Forcefully taking a firearm from police or armed forces, punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life imprisonment, along with fine
- Using firearms in a celebratory gunfire which endangers human life or personal safety of others, punishable with imprisonment of up to two years, or fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both
- The Bill defines offences committed by organised crime syndicates and illicit trafficking.
- Possession of firearms or ammunition by a member of a syndicate, in violation of the Act, will be punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life, along with a fine.
- “Organised crime” refers to continuing unlawful activity by a person, either as a member of a syndicate or on its behalf, by using unlawful means, such as violence or coercion, to gain economic or other benefits.
- The Bill defines illicit trafficking to include the trade, acquisition, sale of firearms or ammunitions into or out of India where the firearms are either not marked as per the Act or violate the provisions of the Act. It is punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life, along with a fine.
Tracking of firearms
Central government may make rules to track firearms and ammunition from manufacturer to purchaser to detect, investigate, and analyse illicit manufacturing and trafficking.
Need for Amendment
- According to an estimate, India has a total of around 35 lakh gun licences.
- Thirteen lakh people have licences to carry weapons in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Jammu and Kashmir, where 3.7 lakh people possess arms licences, most of which were taken on grounds of personal security.
- The trans-border dimensions of illegal arms trafficking are causing threat to internal security and to prevent the usage of illicit firearms so trafficked has also become a prime concern.
- To effectively curb crimes related to or committed by using illegal firearms and to provide effective deterrence against violation of law, there is an urgent need to strengthen the existing legislative framework by making appropriate amendments in the Arms Act, 1959.