TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Arms Amendment Bill, 2019
- Parliament recently approved a legislation providing for a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for manufacturing and carrying illegal arms.
- The Bill seeks to amend the Arms Act, 1959.
- It seeks to decrease the number of licensed firearms allowed per person and increase penalties for certain offences under the Act.
- It also introduces new categories of offences.
- License for acquiring firearms: Under the Act, a license must be obtained to acquire, possess, or carry any firearm. A person can obtain a license for up to three firearms. The Bill reduces the number of permitted firearms from three to one.
- The validity of a firearm license will be from three years to five years.
- Ban on firearms: The Act bans manufacture, sale, use, transfer, conversion, testing or proofing of firearms without license. The Bill additionally prohibits obtaining or procuring un-licensed firearms.
- Increase in punishment: The Bill increases the punishment related to un-licensed firearms and various other offences to between seven years and life imprisonment, along with a fine.
- New offences: The Bill adds news offences. These include: (i) forcefully taking a firearm from police or armed forces (ii) using firearms in a celebratory gunfire which endangers human life or personal safety of others. Celebratory gunfire refers to use of firearms in public gatherings, religious places, marriages or other functions to fire ammunition.
- Tracking of firearms: The central government may make rules to track firearms and ammunition from manufacturer to purchaser to detect, investigate, and analyse illicit manufacturing and trafficking.
- heirloom or heritage weapons could be kept if they have been de-activated.
- The bill has also accorded special status to sportsperson who need firearms and ammunition for practice and participating in tournaments.
- As per the bill, those who own more than two firearms will have to deposit the third one with police station concerned or authorised gun dealers.
- The new legislation has a provision for life imprisonment for those who snatch or loot arms and ammunition from police or other security forces.
- The Bill amends a Section of the Arms Act, 1959, to give punishment from the usual life term of 14 years to “imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s life” for manufacturing, selling, repairing and possessing “prohibited” arms.
- The minimum punishment under this section will be 14 years.
- According to an estimate, India has a total of around 35 lakh gun licences. Thirteen lakh people have licences to carry weapons in Uttar Pradesh, followed by militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir, where 3.7 lakh people possess arms licences, most of which were taken in the name of personal security.
- Punjab, which witnessed terrorism in 1980s and 1990s, has around 3.6 lakh active gun licences, most of which were issued during the two decades of strife.
Connecting the dots:
- Arms Amendment Bill, 2019 will ensure effective control over arms and ammunition which is very important for safety and security in the country. Critically analyse.