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Gun Control Legislation

  • 03 Jun 2022
  • 4 min read

For Prelims: Arms (Amendment) Act 2019

For Mains: Challenges and Issues related to Society, Arms (Amendment) Act 2019

Why in News?

The United States recently witnessed two episodes of mass shootings in a span of 11 days that killed more than 30 people including elementary school children.

  • US recorded a total of 24,576 homicides in 2020, of which approximately 79%, or 19,384 incidents, involved the use of a firearm.
  • Regulation of firearms in the US is convened through the shared authority between the federal, State and local governments.
  • The US Supreme Court previously held that the second amendment of the US Constitution protects the right to “keep and bear arms” for self-defence, whilst federal courts argue about a potential infringement if federal, state and local firearm regulations circumvent this right.

What is the Gun Control Legislation of India?

  • The Arms Act, 1959:
    • About: It aims to be as extensive as possible to cover all aspects relating to the acquisition, possession, manufacture, sale, import, export, and transport of arms and ammunition in India.
    • Requirements for Acquiring Gun License:
      • The minimum age requirement for acquiring a gun license in India is 21 years.
      • The applicant must not have been convicted of any offence involving violence or moral turpitude five years prior to commencing the application, not of an ‘unsound mind’ and not a threat to public safety and peace.
      • Property qualification is not a criterion for acquiring gun license.
      • Upon receiving an application, the licensing authority (i.e., the Home Ministry), asks the officer in-charge of the nearest police station to submit a report about the applicant after thorough vetting within a prescribed time.
    • Other Features of the Act:
      • It defines ‘prohibited arms’ as those that either discharge any noxious liquid or gas, or weapons that seek pressure to be applied on a trigger for discharge.
      • It allow the use of smooth bore gun with a barrel of not less than 20 inches for crop protection or sport.
      • No entity is permitted to sell or transfer any firearm which does not bear the name of the maker, manufacturer’s number or any other visible or stamped identification mark.
  • Amendment to the Arms Act:
    • The Arms Act amended in 2019 reduces the number of firearms that an individual can procure from 3 to 2.
    • The validity of the license has been increased from the present 3 years to 5 years.
    • It also enlists specific provisions on curtailing the use of licensed weapons to ensure social harmony.
    • Punishment: The punishment of imprisonment is increased between 7 and 14 years, along with a fine for the offense of acquisition, possession or carrying of prohibited ammunition without a license.
      • It prohibits the conversion of one category of firearms to another without a license.
      • Unlawful manufacture, sale and transfer are liable for an imprisonment term not less than seven years which could be extended to life, with a fine.

Way Forward

  • One way is to impose severe gun controls and severely restrict who can buy or own a weapon. American laws are too loose and too lenient in this regard.
  • India too needs to review and tighten laws relating to the acquisition and possession of firearms.

Source: TH

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