The Union Home Ministry has toughened the firearm regulations for the common man, but it will be easier now for politicians, especially elected representatives, to get an arms licence.
As per the Arms Rules-2016, notified recently, it is obligatory for the licensing authority to grant the licence to “any MP or MLA, who by virtue of having a close or active association with anti-militant, anti-terrorist or anti-extremist programmes and policies of the government or by mere reason of holding views, political or otherwise, exposed himself to an anticipated risk to his life.” The norms have also been eased for the kin of politicians, besides bureaucrats and members of shooting clubs or rifle associations.
For ordinary citizens, it is mandatory to have firearm training before applying for the licence. Even air guns will require an arms licence. The applicants will have to give an undertaking that they have adequate space for keeping the weapon safely at home.
Usually, the licences are issued for three categories: self-defence, sports and crop protection. In Punjab, a majority of the weapons is procured on the grounds of self-defence, particularly in view of family feuds.
The licensing authority, such as Deputy Commissioners, will now have to specify the reasons for sanctioning or denying the licence to the applicant.
Meanwhile, the Central Government has allowed citizens to own licensed electronic disabling devices such as Taser guns that will soon replace pepper sprays and ensure more security for women in the backdrop of the recent gangrape cases. The new rules also empower state governments to declare new gun-free zones.