Lok Sabha passes bill to amend Arms Act
The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill providing a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for manufacturing and carrying illegal arms, and which also seeks to rationalise and facilitate licensing procedures for the use of firearms by individuals.
The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019, piloted by home minister Amit Shah, was passed by the Lok Sabha after rejecting several amendments moved by Opposition members.
It also ensures that those using firearms in a rash or negligent manner in celebratory gunfire will be punished with an imprisonment of up to two years or with a fine up to ~1 lakh or both. The proposed law is aimed at curbing crimes committed by using firearms, and to provide effective deterrence, Shah said, replying to a nearly three-hour-long discussion in the Lower House.
Under the proposed law, a person can have a maximum of two guns, against the three allowed currently. If a person possesses three or more, the extra guns have to be deposited with authorities or authorised gun dealers within 90 days for de-licensing.
“There were many discrepancies in the six-decade-old law making crime control difficult,” Shah said, referring to the current law, adding that there is also a provision in the bill for life imprisonment for those who snatch arms and ammunition from police or defence forces.
Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Rajyavardhan Rathore sought relaxation in law for those with licensed-guns, including doubling the quota for weapons for sportspersons.
Rathore, an Olympic medal-winning shooter, said celebratory firing must be curbed but it should also be considered that those with valid arms do not get a chance or even learn to handle weapons. Preneet Kaur of the Congress demanded that retired armed forces personnel and qualified shooters be exempted from the restrictions on the number of firearms.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the bill is against the spirit of federalism.
S Jagathrakshakan of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) claimed that majority of crimes relating to firearms have been committed by those who do not possess a license.
Hemant Patil of the Shiv Sena demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee.