New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed with voice vote a Bill on rationalising and facilitating the licensing procedures for use of firearms by individuals as well as to curb crimes committed by using illegal firearms and to provide effective deterrence against violation of the law.
The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks an amendment to the Arms Act, 1959, provides for enhancement of period of arms licence from three years to five years and also to issue arms licence in its electronic form.
The Bill, which was introduced on November 29, seeks to decrease the number of licenced firearms allowed per person and increase penalties for certain offences under the Act.
Citing growing nexus between possession of illegal firearms and commission of criminal offences, Home Minister Amit Shah said the move is aimed at managing law and order situation.
The Minister said the Bill does not seek the rights of any state and that it is to deal with future issues as the fire power and sophistication of illegal firearms have increased significantly over the years with the advancement in technology.
He clarified that the licences being given to sportspersons have been increased so that they do not face any problem during shooting practice.
Shah said that those retired from armed forces should not be worried as there was no change in the provision of the Bill which affects them, because they are responsible citizens.
The Bill proposes to define new offences and prescribing punishment for them, such as for taking away firearms from police or armed forces, involvement in organised crime syndicate, illicit trafficking including smuggled firearms of foreign make or prohibited arms and prohibited ammunition, use of firearms in rash and negligent manner in celebratory gunfire endangering human life.
The Bill seeks to enhance the punishment for existing offences such as illegal manufacture, sale, transfer; illegal acquiring, possessing or carrying prohibited arms or prohibited ammunition; and illegal manufacture, sale, transfer, conversion, import, export, of firearms.
As per the provisions, persons who are involved in manufacturing of illegal arms, sale, smuggling and export would be convicted with jail term ranging from seven years to life imprisonment, the Minister said.
“The punishment for procuring banned arms and ammunition has been increased from 5-10 years to 7-14 years. There is life imprisonment provision in cases related to snatching or stealing of firearms from police in Naxal areas.”
Illegal firearm manufacturer will be given life imprisonment as per the Bill, said the Minister, adding they are more responsible than those who procure or purchase it.