The Arms Act of 1959 and the Arms Rules of 2016 principally govern gun laws in India. The laws seek to control how many own, obtain, sell, and use firearms in the nation. It’s vital to remember that India has strict laws governing the ownership and purchase of weapons and that anybody who wants to lawfully acquire any kind of handgun must first get a valid firearm licence. Background checks, character checks, and the provision of a legitimate justification for firearm ownership, such as self-defence, competitive shooting, or professional security, are all required throughout the licencing procedure. Additionally, the licencing authorities are free to award or refuse licences in accordance with a number of criteria and regional laws.
Kinds of Weapon
According to their calibre and kind, weapons are divided into two groups under the Arms Act of 1959. These groups include:
Prohibited Bore (PB) Firearms:
Prohibited Bore firearms, commonly referred to as PB firearms, are defined as very lethal weapons that are typically off-limits to civilian ownership. These weapons, which can quickly fire a high number of projectiles, are frequently used by the military. Fully automatic weapons, machine guns, submachine guns, and specific types of assault rifles are a few examples of firearms with a prohibited bore. The federal government has exclusive responsibility for issuing the PB licences. The Indian Ordnance Factory, which has its headquarters in Kolkata, has the responsibility to produce and sell these weapons and ammunition in India. The Indian Government has the exclusive right to sell, manufacture, import, and export such guns and ammunition. The Indian Ordnance industries are under the jurisdiction of the Indian Ministry of Defence.
Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB) Firearms:
NPB guns, or non-prohibited bore firearms, are weapons with a smaller calibre and are thought to be less harmful than PB firearms. This category comprises a broad variety of weapons, including shotguns, some kinds of rifles, and handguns (pistols and revolvers). The licencing criteria may differ depending on the type of firearm. Non-Prohibited Bore Firearms are further split into other categories based on their unique attributes.
In India, obtaining a licence to possess a firearm is not an easy procedure, and the licencing agencies have stringent requirements for approval. The general procedures a citizen of India would need to take to apply for a weapon are as follows:
- Establish Eligibility: A person must fulfil the requirements established by the licencing authority before submitting an application for a weapon licence. Typically, applicants must be at least 21 years old, have no prior convictions, and not be mentally ill or unable to stand trial.
- Pick Your Reason for Possession: The applicant must have a good cause for wanting a licence to possess a firearm. Self-defence, property protection, sporting shooting, or professional security are all acceptable justifications. Personal defence is typically not seen as a sufficient justification for acquiring a weapons licence.
- Apply to the Licensing Authority: Depending on where they currently reside, each district magistrate or commissioner of police will need to receive an application for a weapon license from the applicant. The application forms may be acquired from official government websites or picked up at the district police headquarters.
- Provide Required Documents: The applicant must submit the following papers in support of their application:
– Proof of age and nationality (e.g., birth certificate, passport)
– Proof of address (e.g., Aadhaar card, utility bill)
– Character references or certificates from local authorities
– No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the local police station
– Valid reason for seeking the license (e.g., shooting sports membership, security clearance)
- Background Check: The licencing authorities will carry out a complete background check on the candidate, including confirming their mental health condition and criminal history. Additionally, they could make inquiries with nearby law enforcement organisations, interview the candidate face-to-face, and check the references’ moral character.
- Firearm Training: The applicant may need to go through firearm training and competency exams depending on the purpose of possession. Membership in a reputable shooting club or organisation is frequently required for sports shooting.
- Licence approval: The licencing authorities may issue a firearm licence if they are satisfied with the applicant’s eligibility and their reasonable need for a firearm. The licence will specify any particular limitations or limits, as well as the kind of firearm that is permitted.
- Licence Renewal: The validity of a firearm licence is often only good for one to three years. Before the licence expires, the licence holder must renew it by going through the same procedure as when they first applied.
It is pertinent to note that due to various administrative practices and local rules, the weapon licencing procedure may vary partially from state to state within India. The license’s restrictions and conditions must also be strictly followed in order to acquire a firearm; any violations might result in the licence being revoked and/or legal repercussions.
According to recent reports and recommendations, the Ministry of Home Affairs in India has proposed the establishment of a National Database of Arms Licenses. The main goal is to compile a formal record of all gun licences, both those that have already been issued and those that have just been issued. Each owner of a firearm will receive a Unique Identification Number as part of this project. This proactive measure’s primary goals are to make it possible to effectively monitor and trace licenced gun owners and to reduce unauthorised people’s access to guns. The government hopes to reduce gun-related crimes and avert fatalities from shootings employing illegally obtained firearms and weapons by putting this preventative measure into place.
To maintain public safety and prevent abuse of weapons, India has rigorous regulations and extensive legislation governing firearms. The Arms Rules of 2016 offer further restrictions and processes for licencing and ownership, while the Arms Act of 1959 regulates the ownership, purchase, sale, and use of guns. In order to get a licence to possess a firearm in India, a person must first fulfil strict eligibility requirements and justify their application. To guarantee that only responsible and law-abiding persons can acquire weapons, the licencing authorities carry out extensive background checks, including criminal record verification and mental health examinations.
This article is written and submitted by Arpita Gupta during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Arpita is a BBA. LLB 4th year student at Chandigarh University.