One can possess only one firearm from now: Bill in LS

As per the new amendments, one person can possess only one firearm instead of three in the existing laws. Representative image/Pixabay

The government on Friday brought a Bill to amend the six-decade-old Arms Act to restrict a person possess only one firearm and introducing punishment for snatching arms from security personnel and celebratory firing that endangers life among others.

The Arms (Amendment) Bill 2019 introduced by Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy in Lok Sabha also intends to enhance the period of arms licence from three years to five years and also to issue arms licence in electronic form besides enhancing punishment for crimes listed in the Arms Act 1959 like illegal manufacture and sale among others.

The Bill also introduces the concept of tracing of the firearm for "systematic tracking of firearms and ammunition from manufacturer to purchaser for the purpose of detecting, investigating and analysing illicit manufacturing and illicit trafficking'.

As per the new amendments, one person can possess only one firearm instead of three in the existing laws. If anybody has more than one firearm, they will have to surrender the other ones with the nearest police station or with a licensed dealer. While granting arms license on inheritance or heirloom basis, the limit of one firearm should not be exceeded.

Whoever forcefully takes away firearm from police or armed forces, they face a jail term of a minimum of ten years that may extend to life imprisonment with a fine.

Those using firearms in a "negligent manner" or "celebratory firing" that endangers life will face a jail term up to years or fine of up to Rs one lakh or with both. Celebratory firing has been defined in the Bill as "the practice of using a firearm in public gatherings, religious places, marriage parties or other functions to fire ammunition".

Members of crime syndicates using firearms will also face a minimum jail term of ten years which may extend to life term.

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, the law enforcement agencies indicate "growing nexus" between possession of illegal firearms and commission of criminal offences.

"With the advancement in technology, the fire power and sophistication of illegal firearms have increased significance over the years. The trans-border dimensions of illegal arms trafficking are causing a threat to internal security and to prevent the usage of illicit firearms so trafficked has also become a prime concern," it said adding that there is an urgent need to strengthen the laws to effectively curb crimes related to or committed by using illegal firearms

It also said there is also a requirement for rationalising and facilitating the licensing procedures for use of firearms by individuals and sports persons. 

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