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  • Shashank Kr Dey and Shriyanka Dash

Can you own a firearm(gun, pistol etc) in India?


“Even a weapon must choose a side”

Weapons have been an integral part of human evolution and they have grown in the same way as humans. They have evolved from the power to eliminate a single target to the destruction of millions in a single time. A weapon is any device which can be used to inflict damage or harm to the living beings and they are used to increase the efficiency of activities like hunting, crime, law enforcement, self-defence and war. In a broader outlook, one can say that weapons can be constructed to include anything used to gain a strategic, material or mental advantage over an adversary.


Now imagine you are at home and few criminals enter upon your property and threaten you and your family with life, you feel helpless about not being able to do anything about it at that particular time because police or any other help can come only after a reasonable time. You feel that if you had a weapon you would have been able to utilize it for self-defence.


What are Arms?

According to Arms Act, 1959 Arms means an article of any description designed or adapted as weapons for an offence(to do anything prohibited by law) or defence (to protect yourself) and includes firearms(like guns, pistols, rifle etc), sharp-edged(like a knife, sword etc) and other deadly weapons and parts of that are used for manufacturing arms.

What are not Arms?

Any articles designed solely for domestic(like a kitchen knife, grater etc) or agricultural uses such as lathi or an ordinary walking stick, spade and weapons incapable of being used otherwise as toys or of being converted into serviceable weapons are not considered to be Arms.

Now unlike the USA where anybody can own a gun at ease, firearms laws in India are very strict and it is very difficult to get a gun license even if one actually needs it, and this is because of the lengthy paperwork and several other conditions regarding the same. This article will give all the legal tit-bits one needs to know before applying for a firearm license. The first and foremost question which comes in mind is.


Why would you need a firearm?

The most common reasons on which a gun license is given is either for self-defence or for protection against wild animals. However, you are required to prove either of the reason.


Who can get a gun license?

According to Arms Act 1959, “any citizen of India who has attained 21 years of age has the right to get a license for self- defence but not with the intent to brandish the same.


Now the second question which comes into mind is what all documents are needed to get a license?

1. Age Certificate

2. Medical Certificate

3. Address Proof

4. Character Certificate

5. Income Details

6. Property Details

7. Loan Details ( if any)

8. Job/ Business Details

How to get the license?

1. Applicant must file an application in District Magistrate’s office specifying i. the grounds for their necessity of a gun.

ii. the kind of weapon needed like a Pistol or Revolver or a Rifle.

2. District Magistrate will forward the application to the Superintendent of Police (SP) for verification and from there it will be forwarded to the nearest police station of the applicant where the Police will verify the permanent address, background and employment of the applicant.

3. Later on the application is forwarded to the Crime Bureau to further ensure that the applicant is not having any criminal records, and the report is forwarded to the office of Superintendent of Police, which reverts back to the District Magistrate after the paperwork.

4. The Intelligence Department also does its background check regarding the same. It might be possible that even after the successful verification of the application it may get rejected because it’s the sole rationality of the District Magistrate to decide whether to issue the license or not. However, the authority shall record in writing the grounds of refusal and give a brief statement to the applicant unless authority is of opinion that the disclosure of such grounds will not be in the public interest.

However, the licensing authority cannot refuse to grant a license merely on the ground that the applicant does not own or possess sufficient property.  

What after the license is issued?

After issuing of a license, the license holder can buy the arms only from a registered arms shop and after buying the fire-arm it must be taken to the police administration where all the details of the weapon will be recorded and then after one can take it home.


What about the Bullets?

A licensed firearms bullets limit is 200 bullets/year while this limit may vary in certain states. A license holder can buy a maximum of 100 bullets at a time.

What if you want to purchase more bullets?

Owning a gun does not mean you get a right to shoot around blank shots. You are legally answerable for each and every bullet that you have used. To purchase bullets every time except the first time, one must provide the details of the previous bullets (where used).


What is the tenure of a firearm license(what is the life of a license)?

According to the Arms Act Amendment 2019, license validity has been increased from 3 years to 5 years, after which one needs renewal.


How many guns can one person keep?

Prior to 2019 amendment maximum, 3 firearms could have been issued on 1 license but now only 1 firearm can be issued on a license.


Where you can carry your weapon?

The most important thing to be aware of is where one can carry their firearm. Generally, a license is issued with a set parameter for a district and one needs to file an application to carry it to other states. However only the Central ministers, Retd. Defence Officers, Officers of different administration, sportspersons are issued the national arms license. Similarly, the Public Sector Company Officers, businessmen a must show their necessity to get a national license.


What are the fees for the License?

It differs from state to state.


Whether licensed firearm have conditions?

As it is said “great power comes with great responsibilities” similarly a licensed firearm comes with several conditions i.e.

· one cannot brandish a weapon to show their potential in a public place.

· the weapon can’t be sold.

· Can’t be used for hunting.

· Bound to submit the firearm to the administration whenever ordered.

*Violations of above rules may result in cancellation of the license.

*If the weapon is used to put someone’s life in danger then the license holder will be imprisoned for 2 years or 1 lakh fine or both.


What kind of weapon you can buy?

A civilian can get only a Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB) firearms like the 312 Rifle, .22 bore revolver, .45 bore revolver and the semi-automatic and automatic weapons like the 9mm Pistol, .303 Rifle, AK-47, Machine guns are prohibited but it is not absolute and license for the same can be granted in special circumstances.


What if the license holder dies?

Then the peers must submit the gun with the license to the nearest Police Station or gun store.

Can Overseas Indian Citizens Get Gun License In India

An Overseas Indian citizen is those who are a citizen of India but are living in abroad. Such citizens have to prove that the state of residence is permanent in India and also have to give a valid reason as to why they want the gun license.


Can a gun license get cancelled? If yes, when?

If the person conceals or misrepresents important facts for obtaining the gun license then the officials can cancel the license. The officials can also suspend a gun license for a specifies period of time. They can also suspend gun license the weapon is not returned after the termination of the license term. The license officer can suspend a gun license if he is satisfied that the owner of the gun has disobeyed/contravened certain provisions under the act.

According to the 2019 Report, “ India had 35 lakhs gun license issued out of which Uttar Pradesh tops with 13 lacs firearms.  


DISCLAIMER: This blog is an academic endeavour to increase awareness on legal procedure and the rights associated with the. The opinions expressed by the contributors are for informational purposes only and is made in their personal capacity. Nothing herein shall be deemed constitute legal advice. The reader is cautioned to seek legal advice from trained professionals for their queries.

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