NRAI ‘assured’ proposed bill will not affect shooters
The Arms Amendment Bill seeks to reduce the number of licensed arms allowed per person and increase penalties for certain offences under the Act.Updated: Dec 04, 2019 23:02 IST
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has got a “big reprieve” from the Home Ministry as they were on Wednesday “assured that sports shooters will not be brought under the purview of the Arms Amendment Bill 2019”, which was introduced in Lok Sabha on November 29.
The Arms Amendment Bill seeks to reduce the number of licensed arms allowed per person and increase penalties for certain offences under the Act. The Bill draft says that once the amendment comes into force, those who own more than two firearms will have to deposit the rest with the local administration or authorised gun dealers within 90 days for de-licensing.
NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia said, “Unofficially I am saying, that the Bill may be placed in Parliament but (eligible) sportspersons will be exempted. We have been assured by the (Home) Ministry officials that sportspersons will not be touched.
“We had requested them (Home Ministry) that the exemptions given in August 2014 should continue. The 2014 notification defined various categories under which sportspersons could seek exemption for import of arms.”
Under the 2014 Act, “renowned shooters”—those who’ve achieved a minimum qualifying score (MQS) in their respective categories at the NRAI-organised National Championships—are eligible to possess more than one weapon.
If a sportsperson is a “renowned shot” in one category (say for example rifle), and shoots two events (say 50m rifle prone and 50m rifle 3-position), he can possess seven weapons—four in the exempted category and three as a normal citizen. But if the shooter is renowned in more than one category— pistol and/or rifle and/or shotgun—the maximum number of weapons he can posses shall be 10— seven in the exempted category and three as a normal citizen.
Arjuna awardees and international medallists can possess not more than 10 weapons. However, in the case of aspiring and junior target shooters above the age of 12 years, the exemption is restricted to one weapon of any category in which they have competed, only if they have achieved MQS scores.
For districts, state units affiliated to NRAI and shooting ranges under the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and state governments, there is no upper limit on the number of arms, subject to the discretion of the licensing authority based on the recommendations of the NRAI.
“The contentious clause in the draft Bill tabled on November 29 proposed that if a shooter doesn’t remain a renowned shot for more than two years, he would lose the benefit (and deposit his pistols and rifles). With today’s developments, it has given them relaxation. They (ministry) is removing that proposal. All the issues, I suppose, have been resolved. Though they have not given anything in writing, we have their assurance,” said Bhatia.
Renowned shooter Samaresh Jung, who won five gold medals across four pistol categories at the 2006 Commonwealth Games said, “having two or three weapons per event is a necessity during national and international competitions. You never know when the weapon will malfunction. If a spare isn’t available, there is no option but to quit (the contest).”
Jung said if sportspersons don’t continue to get exemptions, it wouldn’t be possible for marksmen to transfer weapons to budding shooters. “Precision shooting weapons can be used by retired or non-active shooters to promote the sport,” Jung said.