The Law in India Regarding Getting an Arms Licence
India is one of the countries that restricts its citizens from owning arms. All citizens of India who wish to own a gun must have a license for it, which is issued by the District Magistrate of the place where the applicant resides. The Nodal act that controls issue of arms licences in India is the Indian Arms Act 1959, as amended by subsequent acts of parliament.
The Indian Arms act clearly lays down who can own weapons and the procedure to be followed to own one. The act also differentiates between weapons and bores used by the military and police and the general public. The bores of the guns and pistols used by the army and police are referred to as service pattern bores and civilians by corollary can only own weapons that are termed non-service pattern or bores. It follows that weapons with bores of .38 or .45 which are used by the Indian police and army cannot be owned by Indian civilian citizens.
The arms act of 1959 has further been amended and the following sets of weapons cannot be licenced for Indian citizens
a) All automatic rifles and guns. Thus no Indian citizen can own a rifle like AK-47 or 56.
b) All pistols and revolvers that are self ejecting. This is an important provision which has been added later to the arms act. Thus pistols of the automatic variety that are self ejecting like 9mm automatic pistol cannot be owned or licenced for any Indian citizen.
The Indian Arms act of 1959 is a far reaching act and limits ownership of guns and weapons for all citizens of India. Failure to obtain an arms licence and keeping an unlicensed weapon is a cognizable offence and the police have the power to arrest any citizen having an unlicensed gun. Owning an AK-47 or similar weapon can attract a jail term of 10 years rigorous imprisonment.
As per the arms act of 1959, there are only 3 reasons specified that allow a citizen to own a gun. These reasons are as follows:
a) For self protection
b) For hunting
c) For sports and shooting competitions.
The onus to prove the above is valid is on the applicant. He has to satisfy the district magistrate (DM) on all the above counts. The DM has discretionary powers that allow him to refuse a licence for any reason he deems fit.
The Indian arms act 1959 has a special status for commissioned officers of the Indian armed forces. Any officer holding the Presidents commission is allowed to keep one weapon without a licence, provided it is approved by his commanding officer. This is a relic from the days of the Raj, when military officers had special privileges. This privilege is applicable only to serving officers and on retirement an officer must obtain a licence from the DM