No Indian should have more than one gun, proposes Centre, gun owners fume
The proposed law will affect owners of approximately four million licensed firearms in the country. A sizeable section of licence holders, many of whom are also shooters, possess multiple firearmsUpdated: Nov 06, 2019 21:33 IST
No Indian citizen should own more than one licensed firearm, the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has proposed in a draft amendment to the Arms Act of 1959 that currently permits an Indian to own as many as three firearms.
The proposed law will affect owners of approximately four million licensed firearms in the country. A sizeable section of licence holders, many of whom are also shooters, possess multiple firearms. The Centre proposes to introduce the new laws through Arms Amendment Bill 2019 as HT earlier reported.
For members of shooting clubs, however, the old law as well as the proposed one permits one additional firearm.
Significantly, Monday’s move comes less than a month after the MHA proposed to reduce the permissible limit on firearms from three to two and sought opinion from state governments since law and order is a State subject.
“I have no idea on whose recommendation the MHA revised the earlier draft and made a new one to propose a one man one gun law,” said an official associated with the process of amendment of existing gun laws.
The MHA on Monday issued a public notice, seeking opinion of citizens on some proposed changes. The proposed restriction on gun ownership is unacceptable, said people who will be affected if the draft becomes law.
If enforced, the law will drastically reduce the number of legally owned firearms in the country, making a major policy change since Independence. It will apply to members of the armed forces as well.
“As a Kshatriya and a Rajput, I am appalled. It is the dharm (duty) of every Kshatriya to bear arms to protect his community, fellow citizens and motherland. This dharm supersedes all other laws. Rajputs in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are extremely agitated. We would gladly go to jail but never surrender our legally held arms,” said Yuvraj Yograjsinhji of Mansa, Gujarat.
A commercial airline pilot based in Delhi, Rakshit Sharma and his family own several firearms. “This is one of the most regressive moves against law abiding citizens. They have never been a problem and same is reflected in National Crime Records Bureau’s data. Criminals own illegal weapons, not us.”
“I have two .22 caliber rifles and two .22 caliber pistols for training my students. Four budding shooters can practice at a time. Giving up these weapons would affect so many. I don’t think the government understands this or cares for that matter,” said Hemant V Jadhav, an ISSF pistol coach based in Maharashtra and founder of an online air pistol coaching website that has members in 34 countries.
“In most nations, where civilian gun ownership is permitted, usually no more than seven per cent citizens own multiple firearms. India is no exception. In those nations, no hard limits are imposed on number of firearms. This is evident in most democratic nations, whether in Europe, North America or Asia,” said Abhijeet Singh, spokesperson for National Association for Gun Rights India (NAGRI), the only pan-India organisation fighting for liberal gun laws.
Interestingly, the MHA, in July 2016, brought into force Arms Rules 2016 through a gazette notification that brought even air rifles above .177 caliber or those that generate more than 20 joules of energy under the ambit of licence.
Officials handling the draft Arms (Amendment) Act 2019 claimed that the main objective of the ongoing exercise is to stop further proliferation of arms and ammunition.