On 10th December 2019 both the houses of the Parliament have passed the Arms Act Amendment Bill, 2019 to amend the Arms Act, 1959. The amendment has been issued to provide for stricter punishments under the Arms Act to those who carry or manufacture illegal weapons. The Amendment Act also introduces new categories of offenses while decreasing the number of licensed firearms allowed per person.

The Arms Act Amendment Bill amends section 3 of the earlier Act and reduces the permissible limit of keeping firearms from three to one. Any individual possessing extra firearms will have to deposit it to the authorities within one year or to the authorized gun-dealers within 90 days from the date of passing of the amendment. The period of validity of the license of a firearm has been increased from three years to five years.

The punishment for offenses mentioned in the Arms Act Amendment Bill has been increased to between seven years and life imprisonment, along with a fine. Specific offenses such as dealing in un-licensed firearms, or their manufacturing, sale, procurement, transfer or conversion, shortening or conversion of a firearm without a license, and the import or export of banned firearms are punishable with imprisonment between three years to seven years, along with a fine.

According to the Act, acquisition, carrying or possession of prohibited ammunition without a license causes punishment of imprisonment between five and ten years, along with a fine. Minimum punishment under the Arms Act has been increased from 7 years to 10 years.

The Bill recognizes new offenses, namely, forcefully taking a firearm from police or armed forces which is punishable with imprisonment between 10 years or life imprisonment, along with fine. The bill also imposes a punishment of imprisonment of up to two years, or fine up to one lakh rupees, or both, for committing the offense of using firearms in celebratory gunfire during public gatherings, marriages or fire ammunition functions, which shall endanger human life or personal safety.

The definition of offenses committed by organized crime syndicates and illicit trafficking has also been included in the bill. ‘Organised Crime’ is referred to a continuing unlawful activity by a person who is a member of a syndicate or by somebody on his behalf. It includes violence or coercion to gain economic benefit. Two or more people committing an organized crime is considered an organized crime syndicate. ‘Illicit trafficking’ includes trade, acquisition, and sale of firearms into or out of India which violates the provisions of the Act. It is punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life imprisonment, along with a fine.

The Arms Act Amendment Bill, 2019 has been introduced for the purpose of national security. The bill seeks to impose stringent punishments for people involved in the illegal manufacturing of arms. It also accords a special status to sportsperson needing firearms and ammunitions for practicing or participating in tournaments.


eStartIndia Team

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