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MPs oppose amendment that limits gun licences to just one, cite security & royal past

MPs cutting across party lines are opposing a provision in the Arms (Amendment) Bill that those who own more than one firearm will have to deposit the rest with authorities within 90 days.

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New Delhi: A bill seeking to amend the six-decade-old Arms Act and limit arms licence holders to keeping just one weapon, among others, is facing opposition from MPs cutting across party lines. The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019, introduced in the Lok Sabha last Friday, also states that from now on a person can apply for just one arms licence.

The bill was set to come up for discussion and passing in the lower house Tuesday but wasn’t taken up and is likely to be discussed Wednesday.

One of the provisions of the bill states that those who own more than one firearm will have to deposit the rest with authorities within 90 days. The authorities, according to the bill, can either be the local police station or an authority mandated by law. The excess guns will be stored by the authorities and the licensees can access them but at any point, they can possess only one weapon.

The Modi government has also proposed to enhance punishment from 14 years to life imprisonment for the manufacturing, selling, repairing and possessing ‘prohibited’ arms and has proposed a two-year term for those who indulge in celebratory firing at weddings and religious functions.

The MPs are particularly against the government’s decision to limit licences and are citing security issues and the ‘sensitive locations’ of their regions.

“Most of the provisions of this bill are necessary but restricting the possession of firearms to just one is not based on reality,” said the Congress’ Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

“Punjab is a border state neighbouring Pakistan. People have to be safe and secure if there is an attack from across the border. People will have to visit the local police station to get their deposited firearms,” he added.

“People live in deras and the fields with just one firearm; the rest are kept at home for the safety of the others,” Aujla said. “How will it be possible to stay safe with just one weapon?”

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Rajya Sabha MP, who has been expelled from his party, also said the provision should not apply to those living in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as it is a border region. “This provision will endanger public life in J&K as it is a border region,” he said. “There should not be restrictions on the possession of licenced firearms in border regions.”

Some MPs with a royal lineage are opposing the provision as they say some of their guns are antiques and prized possessions.

“Many people with licensed arms have inherited them from their families. They are prized possessions,” said the BJP Rajya Sabha MP Harshvardhan Singh Dungarpur, who is a member of the erstwhile royal family of Dungarpur in Rajasthan.

“The guns are heritage items and not used altogether. If they are destroyed in the possession of the authorities who will foot the bill?” he asked.

Also read: Pragya Thakur is so controversial that even BJP MPs avoid her in Parliament

Amarinder writes to Modi 

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising concerns over the bill. In his letter sent last week, Amarinder said that being a border state, Punjab has gone through a phase of terrorism and sought exemption from the provision.

“If some states need to reduce the number of licenced weapons, they should be allowed without discriminating other states,” his letter states.

Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy, however, told ThePrint that the bill isn’t limited to just licensed firearms.

“It is broader in its agenda and seeks to enhance the punishment for those who run illegal guns factories, extremists snatching guns from police, those involved in organised crime syndicates and illicit trafficking of prohibited arms and those who indulge in rash and celebratory firing,” Reddy said.

The bill also seeks to extend the period of an arm licence from three to five years. It has proposed new offences, including anything between 10 years and life imprisonment for those who snatch weapons from the police or the armed forces. The bill has also called for a two-year term for celebratory firing. According to the bill, celebratory gunfire refers to the use of weapons in public gathering, religious places, marriages and other functions.

Also read: MPs ask Speaker Om Birla for classes on different bills, then bunk the lessons 


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  1. This is not a fair practice Of The bill especially in reducing limit/number of weapons on one Arms license.

    Government should amend this bill under Exemption with Only Extreme focus over the illegal Use of firearms and other Serious related issues for the same:-
    Just like –
    1) celebratory firing
    2) illegal manufacturing
    3) theft Or snatching of the same
    4) imprisonment tenure
    5) illicit trafficking And etc….

  2. This article puts the point across very well. The other questions id like to pose to the govt,( cong / Bjp/ other) is what are their plans on eliminating illegal guns from our country? I doubt they have any plan at all. Rather than deprive the law abiding citizenry of the right to keep and bear arms the Govt must shift focus and eliminate illegal weapons esp those in criminal hands- which are actually used against the state and for committing violent crimes.
    This suggested change in law also throws up the issue of govts trusting citizens.The brits introduced the licencing system and it is now being mademore n more stringent .I think all Brit made laws need to be revisited and amended.
    Before the Brits there were no licencing laws and all Indians were free to carry arms. Considering it was a done thing, arms etiquette was a subject a child learnt at home from parents .and other elders. arms licence holders know how difficult it is to procure an arms licence – this is borne out from the fact that of 125 crore +citizens only around 40 lakh licences have been issued. Further the govt should check from NCRB records as to how many much crime is committed using licenced V/S unlicensed or illegal arms.
    . It’s time the government followed Brazil’s example and allowed easier access of arms to the general public – after background checks – to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property.

  3. Confiscating legal licensed guns to curb illegal guns and crime?!? Makes no sense whatsoever. Their own data backs the contention that legal licensed guns are used in statistically insignificant number of crimes.

    It seems some misguided people with a jaundiced world view have drafted these ill conceived amendments to the Arms Act 1959

  4. Gov doesn’t seems to have its ear on ground.. gov shld promote law abiding citizens to arm themselves.. provide criminals prey on weak defenceless

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