Perturbed by the liberal allotment of firearm licenses, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has introduced several changes in the norms for granting arms licences to individuals in regard to two categories of weapons — prohibited bore (PB) and non-prohibited bore (NPB).
In a circular issued to all state governments and union territories (UTs) on March 31 this year, the MHA has laid down stricter conditions for acquiring firearms licenses.
As per the circular, the initiative has become imperative in order to “curb the proliferation of arms in the country”.
The circular further states that issuance of PB
weapon licenses, which is decided by the MHA, will be made only on the basis of a terrorist threat perception to the applicant.
The license will be granted subject to recommendations from the district magistrate (DM), the state government, and the police verifying the applicant’s credentials.
The new guidelines also bring back a check on allocation of NPB weapon licenses as there were no norms for acquiring NPB weapons.
But, henceforth, the applicant's ability to handle arms will be a mandatory check along with his antecedent check and threat perception.
One of the most glaring changes in the new guidelines comes with the intent to curb the All India Validity (AIV) of NPB licenses to non-categorised people.
The MHA has asked states to consider the area validity to a maximum of three adjoining states.
Also, some provisions of the Arms Act, 1959, were being misused to allot licenses to people of dubious credentials.
For instance, the licensing authority could grant a license if the police delayed the process of verification of antecedents. However, these delays will now reduce as the police have been advised to send their reports within 45 days.
Moreover, severe restrictions have been imposed on the quantity of ammunition that can be allotted to a licensee.
The total number of ammunition that can be purchased by a licensee (both PB and NPB) has been fixed at 50.
The state governments have been asked to devise a mechanism for reporting the use of ammunition by the licensee.
A record has to be maintained, which would state the date of use of ammunition, place, purpose and the number of bullets fired.
A person’s license can be revoked in case of failure to report any details.
Also, a database on arms licenses both at the state and the MHA level has also been suggested.