On December 16, 2019 the president of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind approved the Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for manufacturing and carrying illegal arms. After his assent, the bill became an act with effect from December 14, 2019. The act was brought to check the acts of terrorism and insurgency and use of illegal arms, which is in favour of the common people. The act aims to provide effective deterrence against violation of law.Arms act 2019:
i.The act has amended Arms Act 1959.
- Period of arms: The act will enhance the period of arms license from 3 years to 5 years and also to issue arms license in its electronic form to prevent forgery.
- Gun limit to individuals: According to the act, in addition to the limit of two guns being allowed, individuals would be allowed to retain ancestral guns in a deactivated state. Thus, ancestral guns may be kept as a demo gun that it must not be in a condition to fire.
- Punishment on New offences: New offences and relevant punishments will be framed in the act. The offence includes taking away firearms from police or armed forces, involvement in organized crime syndicate, illicit trafficking including smuggled firearms of foreign make or prohibited arms etc.
- Arms ownership of sportspersons: The licenses and arms ownership of sportspersons would not be adversely affected as the number and types of weapons allowed for sportspersons has been increased.
- Retired & serving personnel gun ownership: Provisions related to ownership of arms by retired and serving personnel of armed forces remains unaffected in the act.
iii.Future plans: Govt plans to introduce bullets with serial numbers in future, so as to keep bullets accounted and traceable.
iv.Portal designed: A new portal is also being developed which would act as one stop platform to access information on arms licenses issued, license holders and the ammunition used. The portal would house National Database on Arms License (NDAL) and Arms License Issuance System (ALIS).
v.Death by arms: India ranked 3rd in no. of suicides committed with guns where even licensed arms are being put to the wrong use. In order to prevent these activities Arms Act was passed.
Punishment on illegal arms usage:
i.The act will enhance the punishment for existing offences like illegal manufacture, sale, transfer,illegal acquiring, possessing or carrying prohibited arms or prohibited ammunition etc.
- Prison term: Illicit trafficking of firearms and ammunition including smuggled firearms of foreign make or prohibited bore had been increased to prison time between 10 years to life imprisonment.
- Theft of weapons from police: for theft of weapons from the police or armed forces, the punishment has been increased from 10 years to life imprisonment.
- Illegal use: illegal manufacturing, sale, conversion, repair, import/export would attract punishment ranging from 7 years to life imprisonment.
- Illegal acquiring: Person acquiring, possessing, carrying prohibited arms and ammunition will be provided with 7 to 14 years of imprisonment.
- Organised crime: Involvement in organized crime syndicate would all henceforth carry the punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment.
- Celebratory firing: Involvement in negligent and rash use of firearms or in celebratory firing endangering human life, would attract a fine of Rs. 1,00,000 else imprisonments for 2 years or both.