The Arms (Amendment) Act, 2019: Salient Features; Analysis; Way Forward
Salient Feature of the Act
- Ban on firearms- The Act bans the sale, manufacture, use, conversion, transfer, testing or proofing of firearms without any license. The Bill also prohibits procuring or obtaining un-licensed firearms.
- License for acquiring firearms: Under the Act, a license must be obtained to possess, acquire or carry any firearm. Earlier a person was permitted to obtain a license for up to three firearms. However, the new Act reduced the number of allowed firearms from three to one.
- The validity of Firearms License- The validity will be from three years to five years.
- Increase in punishment: The Bill increases the punishment for unlicensed firearms and related offences from seven years to life imprisonment with a fine.
- Addition of new offences- The Act has added the following news offences:
- Taking a firearm from armed forces or police forcefully
- Using firearms in such a way which endangers the personal safety of others or human. Even the Celebratory use of firearms in public gatherings, marriages, religious places or other functions will also be an offence.
- Tracking of firearms -The central government will have the power to make rules to track firearms and ammunition from manufacturer to the purchaser to investigate, detect and analyze illicit trafficking and manufacturing.
- Heritage or heirloom weapons could be kept in the house if they have been de-activated permanently.
- The Act has also provided special status to the sportspersons who need firearms for practice and participating in various tournaments.
- As per the Act, the excess firearms than authorized will have to be deposited with the nearest police station or any authorized gun dealers.
- In case of loot or snatch of firearms and ammunition from police or security forces, a new provision has increased the punishment to life imprisonment.
- As the new Act, the minimum punishment will be 14 years for any violation of the Act.
Analysis of the Act
- The Act has been introduced to control the possession and use of firearms in the country and its illegal usage. This will ensure safety and security to the other human being.
- The Act will help in reducing firearm-related crime.
- The Act will set a milestone in effective control overuse of firearms which is very important for the security and safety of people in the country.
- The Increase in punishment will create a deterrent for such crime in society.
- This will help the security forces and police in maintain law and order.
- As most of the crime is being committed by illegal license holders, the Act will not affect a lot to the license holders.
- This Act is required to be made in line with the police reforms in the country.
- Many states have objected its application to the whole country in a similar fashion, which may be a cause of concern due to the difference in culture and tradition.
- Issue raised in Punjab
- In Punjab, the individuals who own more than one weapon (includes former Army personnel, businessmen and farmers) is raising concern on the Act.
- The Punjab government is stating that over 50% is residence stay in remote villages and hence they need arms to protect themselves.
- Villagers who are close to the Pakistan border in Punjab is raising concern on the Act.
- May Punjab residents had acquired firearms during the days of militancy in the 1990s and 1980s, and now they are concerned about the new regulations of the Act.
- Many residents in Punjab had acquired more than one vintage weapons from their ancestors, and hence they do not want this Act to be implemented in Punjab.
- Punjab doesn’t have much problem with any other provisions of the Act except with the limit on the number of firearms.
Issue raised in Rajasthan
- The members of the Rajput community is opposing the amendments of the Act as they were holding more than one firearms.
- Many families in Rajasthan have antique guns as acquire from their ancestors as heirlooms and worship weapons.
- Some social outfits like Karni Sena have raised concerns and threatened to protest in opposition.
- The ADG Crime of Rajasthan put up the data that at present, there are 1.72 lakh firearms licences holders in the sated in which almost 10% have multiple weapons.
- Many retired personnel of armed forces and the person who poses ancestral weapons are opposing the Act.
- Issue raised in Punjab
- Its execution in true spirit will be a challenge for the security personnel.
- The government needs to strengthen such acts in most of the states with some exception to some states which hold a traditional culture of holding multiple weapons.
- Holding dysfunctional ancestral weapons need to be allowed for some states.
- The Act needs to be taken by states in the right spirit, and the police forces should implement it in letter and spirit.
- The redressal of grievance to the people in needs is necessary, and the government should make such a mechanism.
- Punishments to illegal license holders should be ensured by security personnel.
- Representation of states should be taken into consideration.
- Trekking of firearms from illegal holders should be ensured.