1. Understanding gun control legislation of different countries

GS Paper- 2, Govt Policies and Interventions, Judiciary.


  • More than 30 people were slain in two separate mass shootings in the United States in the last 11 days, including elementary school pupils. It has had 24,576 homicides in 2020, with around 79 percent, or 19,384 instances, including the use of a firearm.


  • With the increasing insurrection of the British in India in the middle 1800s, recurring occurrences such as bad pay, racial brutality, increasing cultural apathy, poor pension terms, and so on by harsh British commanders directly contributed to unrest among the Indian troops. The 1857 sepoy rebellion, widely known as the first struggle of independence, sparked religious feelings in both Hindu and Muslim Indian soldiers.
  • As a result of this insurrection, the British were shaken and fearful that similar rebellions in the future might lead to the end of the British Colonial era in India.
  • Even though the insurrection failed, it resulted in the unlawful and unauthorised usage of weapons such as firearms and rifles, prompting the adoption of the Arms Act of 1878. This new legislation made it clear that no Indian might hold a weapon unless the Crown was satisfied of his devotion to the Crown. This statute was repealed in 1959, after 12 years of independence.

About the Indian Arms Act:

  • The Indian Arms Act was enacted in 1959 to regulate the acquisition, possession, sale, purchase, production, transportation, import and export, and licencing of arms and ammunition.
  • According to a 2016 census, around 5 out of every 100 residents in India own weapons, ranking India as the 120th most armed country. According to the report, Uttar Pradesh has over 12 lakh active weapons licences.
  • Carrying firearms is a crime punishable by imprisonment and a fine under the Arms Act.
  • The Arms Act was further amended in 2016, stating that persons applying for an arms licence must complete arms and ammunition safety training courses, which include basic knowledge of arms and ammunition, safe handling, techniques, and so on, after which the concerned authorities can issue the licence within 60 days.

The Arms (Amendment) Act:

The Arms (Amendment) Act intends to alter the Arms Act of 1959 by limiting the number of guns authorised per person from three to one. It also proposes new types of offences and increases in penalties for certain offences.

Features of the Arms (Amendment) Act:

License to purchase firearms:

  • A licence is required under the Act to acquire, own, or carry any firearm. A licence can be obtained for up to three guns (with certain exceptions, such as for licenced firearms dealers). The Act cuts the allowed number of guns from three to one. This includes licences granted by inheritance or legacy.
  • The Act specifies a one-year term for depositing extra guns with the officer-in-charge of the local police station or a registered firearm dealer. The firearm may be placed with a unit armoury if the owner is a member of the armed services.
  • Excess guns will be delicensed within 90 days of the one-year term expiring. The Act also extends the validity period of a handgun licence from three to five years.

Firearms ban:

  • The Act makes it illegal to manufacture, sell, use, transfer, convert, test, or proof guns without a licence. It also forbids the illegal shortening of firearm barrels or the conversion of imitation guns into firearms. The Act also makes it illegal to buy or obtain unlicensed guns, as well as to convert one type of firearm to another without a licence. It also permits members of rifle clubs or associations to train with any firearm rather than only point 22 bore rifles or air rifles.

Increase in Punishment:

  • The Act modifies the penalties for a number of offences. The Act defines the penalties for:
  • engaging in unlicensed guns, including their production, acquisition, sale, transfer, and conversion
  • the illegal shortening or modification of a weapon, and
  • the import or export of prohibited guns
  • The penalty for these offences is from three to seven years in prison, plus a fine. The Act extends the penalty to between seven and life imprisonment, as well as a fine.
  • The Act sanctions the purchase, possession, or carrying of banned ammunition without a licence with five to 10 years in jail and a fine. The Act extends the penalty to jail for seven to fourteen years, as well as a fine. A judge may issue a sentence of less than seven years if the grounds are documented.
  • The Act also prohibits dealing in restricted guns without a licence (including their production, sale, and maintenance) with imprisonment ranging from seven years to life in prison, as well as a fine. The Act raises the minimum sentence from seven to ten years. The punishment for situations in which the use of forbidden guns and ammunition results in a person’s death has been changed from death to death or life imprisonment, plus a fine.

New Infractions:

The Act includes new offences. These are some examples:

  • unlawfully obtaining a firearm from police or armed forces, punishable by imprisonment ranging from 10 years to life in prison, as well as a fine
  • employing weapons in a celebratory firing that endangers human life or the personal safety of others, punishable by up to two years in prison or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both. Celebratory gunfire is the use of weapons to discharge ammunition during public gatherings, religious sites, marriages, or other ceremonies.
  • The Act also defines crimes perpetrated by organised crime syndicates and illegal trafficking. “Organised crime” refers to persistent criminal action by a person, either as a member of a syndicate or on its behalf, to acquire economic or other benefits by the use of unlawful methods such as violence or coercion.
  • The Act defines illegal trafficking as the trade, purchase, or sale of weapons or ammunition into or out of India if the firearms are either not labelled in accordance with the Act or violate the Act’s requirements. Illegal trafficking is punishable by imprisonment for 10 years to life, as well as a fine.

Tracking of Firearms:

To identify, investigate, and analyse criminal production and trafficking, the central government may enact laws that trace weapons and ammunition from producer to customer.


  • The act will reduce crime involving weapons.
  • Approximately 35 lakh gun permits are currently issued in India. Uttar Pradesh leads the list with 13 lakh gun licences, followed by Jammu & Kashmir with 3.7 lakh licences, the majority of which were obtained for personal security. Punjab also has over 3.6 lakh current weapons licences, the most of which were obtained throughout the 1980s and 1990s, at the state’s zenith of terrorism.
  • Punjab, which experienced terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s, has over 3.6 lakh active weapons licences, the most of which were issued during the two decades of conflict.
  • The Arms (Amendment) Act, 2019, was presented to limit the use and possession of firearms in the country, with the goal of reducing their hasty and unlawful use, which can imperil another human being.
  • The act’s objectives are fine, but the reality is considerably different.
  • Effective regulation of guns and ammunition is critical for the country’s safety and security.
  • Only a small percentage of crimes are committed by licenced gun owners; the majority are committed by unlicensed gun owners.
  • It will assist police in better maintaining law and order.
  • Must be consistent with police reforms.

Who can buy a gun in India?

The 1959 Act divides weapons into two categories: Prohibited Bore (PB) and Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB). The diameter of the bullet is referred to as the bore. NPBs, which include firearms with calibres of.35,.32,.22, and.380, are available to all individuals.

India Rules for Obtaining Arms:

  • In India, candidates for a gun licence must be at least 21 years old and have never been convicted of a violent crime, been of “unsound mind,” or posing a threat to public safety and peace. When the licencing authority (i.e., the Home Ministry) receives an application, it directs the officer in charge of the nearby police station to produce a report on the applicant after full vetting.
  • The 2019 amendment to the Arms Act decreases the number of guns that a person can get from three to two.
  • Indian rules are very detailed when it comes to the sale and illegal trading of firearms. It also has particular rules to limit the use of licenced firearms in order to maintain societal peace.
  • No organisation may sell or transfer a firearm that does not contain the maker’s name, the manufacturer’s number, or any other visible or stamped identification mark. Any act of conversion (such as reducing a firearm’s barrel or turning an imitation firearm into a firearm) or illegal import-export is punished by a seven-year jail sentence, which may be extended to life imprisonment, as well as monetary fines.

What are the gun laws in the United States?

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution states that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed,” is sometimes cited as the fundamental cause of all gun violence.

How are firearms governed in Canada?

Canada proposed legislation to modify the Firearms Act. It proposes a “national freeze” on handguns, prohibiting the sale, purchase, transfer, and import of firearms into Canada. Handguns were used in 49 percent of all firearm-related killings in 2020, making the law especially important.

How do Japanese gun regulations work?

Acquiring a gun in Japan is especially rigorous – one must provide a variety of paperwork, show their ‘needs,’ go through a month-long training course on handling and safety, pass a background check and medical test, and then take an exam to confirm eligibility. Purchasing a firearm necessitates a separate certification (from the dealer) indicating the intended model.

How are things in New Zealand?

Following the deadly murders at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019, the country’s gun-law legislation began to change. The Act now compels guns dealers to give the licence numbers of all workers working at a facility, even those who are not directly involved in the handling of weapons but have access to the premises. All weapons are now required to carry an identifying number. If a dealer obtains an item that does not have the same, they must have it stamped or engraved within 30 days of receipt.


  • Taking all of the above into account, India has strict firearms laws when it comes to the issuance of gun licences; however, India still has the second highest number of gun deaths, indicating that the Arms Act has not entirely been able to make a hindrance among the masses in India, owing to the easy availability of illegal weapons smuggled into India.
  • India, must examine and tighten regulations governing the procurement and ownership of firearms. Strong gun laws and limiting who may buy or own a firearm is required.


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