Know the Gun Laws in India

Indian Arms Act

The Indian Arms Act, which was enacted in 1959, is a legislation that governs the acquisition, possession, sale, purchase, manufacturing, transportation, import and export, licensing of firearms and ammunition. To own a firearm in India, one must possess a license issued by the concerned district authorities. The Act also stipulates that sharp objects, such as knives and swords, exceeding nine inches in length, also require a license.

The Arms Act was amended in 2016 to mandate that individuals applying for arms licenses must complete an arms and ammunition safety training course. This course includes basic knowledge of arms and ammunition, safe handling techniques, and other related topics. Once the training is complete, the authorities concerned can issue the license within 60 days.

A further amendment to the Arms Act was made in 2019 to reduce the number of licensed firearms that an individual can possess. The amendment also imposes strict penalties for the possession of illegal firearms and for reckless acts of gunfire that endanger the lives of others. Such offenses can result in a two-year imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1 lakh, or both. The bill also proposes life imprisonment for the manufacture of illegal firearms.

Who is eligible to own a firearm in India?

According to the 1959 Act, firearms are categorized into two groups: Prohibited Bore (PB) and Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB). In firearms, the bore signifies the diameter of the bullet.

Chapters II and III of the Act state that all civilians can apply for possession of NPBs, which include guns of caliber under the permissible limit as per the act. The category of Prohibited Bore firearms encompasses various pistols such as 9mm and handguns of calibers .38 and .455, as well as .303 rifles, automatic firearms, and semi-automatic guns. While NPBs can be possessed by any civilian, PBs are usually issued to defense personnel. In certain circumstances, individuals at risk or living in high-risk areas may be authorized to possess Prohibited Bores.

How can one obtain a gun license in India?

In India, guns are only issued for three purposes: self-defense, crop protection, and sports, and sufficient proof is required for the former. To obtain a gun license, an individual must be over the age of 21 and complete an application form that includes questions about past criminal behavior. Identity proof, residence proof, age proof, proof of education, residence proof, four photographs, and the last three years’ income tax returns must also be submitted.

The next step involves a background check of the applicant by the police, during which the applicant and their family members are interviewed. Once the application is approved, the individual must undergo arms training, after which the license can be obtained. The renewal of the license must be done every three years.