• The Punjab government has cancelled the 813 gun licenses across the state in a bid to clamp down on the “gun culture” in the state.
  • The Indian Arms Act of 1959 scrapped the erstwhile Act of 1878.
  • The Act of 1878 passed by the British in the aftermath of the 1857 mutiny, restricted Indians from possessing firearms.
  • According to the 1959 Act, no one can acquire, possess or carry any firearms in India without a license.

1983 Amendment:

The Act bars one person from carrying more than three firearms after its amendment in 1983, except if:

  • the person is a licensed dealer,
  • belongs to the armed forces of the Union, or
  • is a member of a rifle club or association licensed or recognised by the Centre.
  • The Arms Act allows Indian citizens aged 21 years and above to get Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB) guns.
  • Bore refers to the diameter of a gun’s bullets.
  • NPB guns adhering to .35,.33, .22, and .380 are permissible for a license.
  • Prohibited Bore guns of bores .38, .455, and .303 can only be issued to defence personnel or persons facing imminent threats to life.
  • A license can only be granted for purposes of self-defence, crop protection, or sports.
  • The Act prevents persons of unsound mind or those out on bond from getting such a license.
  • Applications for the grant of arms license for NPB weapons are dealt with by the State Government/DM concerned.
  • However, the Centre is also empowered to prohibit the possession and distribution of arms in certain “disturbed areas.”
  • An amendment to the Act in 2019 reduced the number of permitted firearms from three to one and provided a period of one year to deposit the excess firearms.
  • The amendment also increased the duration of validity of a firearm license, from three to five years.

The Arms Rules, 2016

  • In 2016, the Centre issued new Arms Rules, 2016, superseding the Arms Rules, 1962.
  • As per the rules applying for an arms license, rifle club, association, or firing range required one to complete a safety training course involving safe handling and carrying procedures.
  • Provisions for granting restricted categories of arms to those living in militancy-hit areas and a decision on applications for arms licenses within two months were part of the rules issued by the Centre.


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