ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ban the Gun

Rather than tinkering with the Arms Act, the government should simply ban civil possession of the gun.

In the last few weeks an influential group of parliamentarians, led by the Congress leader, Digvijay Singh, has launched a campaign against the moves of the Ministry of Home Affairs to tighten the laws around possession of guns in India. They appear to have succeeded in their initial attempts as the government has dropped immediate plans for amendments to the Arms Act, 1959 which would have made it much more difficult for state governments and district administrators to hand out licences of possession of firearms.

In March this year, the home ministry proposed a change in the rules governing the Arms Act as well as an amendment in the Act itself. The proposed changes would make police verification of the applicant for a gun licence compulsory and take away the discretionary powers of the local authorities to grant such licences. These changes would also have provided the ministry with a veto on giving gun licences. Under present rules, police verification is necessary, but in case the police do not give the verification report the district authorities were empowered to grant the applicant the licence to carry firearms. Henceforth, it has been made mandatory for the police to give their verification report, giving clear reasons for their decision. The final issuance of the gun licence would depend on what the police says. The home ministry has argued that this will reduce the number of people who wrangle gun licences with false claims, while also providing the government with a centralised database on gun ownership.

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