Arjuna awardees, international/national sportspersons exempted from purview of strict Arms Act

New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) Arjuna awardees and sportspersons participating in international and national shooting competitions have been exempted from the purview of certain strict conditions being imposed for possessing and carrying guns after the amendments to the Arms Act, the Home Ministry said.

While the Arjuna awardees will get exemption on the number of arms to be possessed provided that the award was conferred in shooting, international medallists or renowned shooters can possess up to 12 rifles in caliber .22 (also known as .22 Long Rifle), center fire rifles with calibers up to 8 mm, including all calibers lower than 8 mm, pistols or revolvers of caliber up to and including 9 mm and shotguns of caliber up to 12 bore.

However, all national and international shooters getting exemptions from the Arms Act for possessing guns for personal use, training or use in competitions, will have to be certified by either Ministry of Sports or national or state rifle associations.

In exercise of the powers conferred by section 41 of the Arms Act, 1959 and in supersession of the notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs, dated August 4, 2014, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such supersession, the central government hereby exempts the specified classes of the persons in respect of the arms of the category of description specified when carried or possessed for their own personal use for the purpose of training or use in competitions, from the operations of the provisions of the Act, a notification issued by joint secretary in the home ministry Punya Salila Srivastava said.

According to the notification, international championship means the Asian Games, the Asian Shooting Championship, the Asian Women or Asian Junior Shooting Championship, the Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Shooting Championships, the Olympic Games, the World Junior or Senior Shooting Championships and the World Cup in senior as well junior events.

An international medallist means a person who has won an individual or team medal in an international championship. A renowned shooter means a person who has participated in a national shooting championship in an open men's event or open women's event or open civilian's event whether through qualifying tournament or wild card entry conducted in accordance with the rules of International Shooting Union and has attained the minimum qualifying score specified by the National Rifle Association.

Those who can certify a sportsperson include the Ministry of Sports, which will certify that the award was conferred for excellence as a shooter; the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) or approved affiliated state rifle association, which will certify that the medal has been won by the international medallist in the international championships; and in case of renowned shooter, the merit certificate shall mention the qualifying score along with the minimum qualifying score (MQS) for the event as specified by NRAI.

A junior target shooter will be allowed to posses and carry two weapons of any category in which the person is a junior target shooter, but he must hold a certificate issued by the appropriate certifying body.

An aspiring shooter will be allowed to posses and carry two weapons of any category in which the person is an aspiring shooter provided that he holds a certificate issued by the appropriate certifying body.

The NRAI, affiliated state rifle association(s), district rifle association(s) affiliated with state rifle association(s), shooting clubs affiliated with the state rifle association or NRAI and shooting ranges under the Sports Authority of India or the sports authority of the state governments can posses and use unlimited number of guns in the category of .22 Long Rifle, center fire rifles with calibers up to 8 mm, pistols or revolvers of caliber up to and including 9 mm and shotguns of caliber up to 12 bore.

The parliament in December 2019 had amended the Arms Act under which punishment for illegally possessing and making prohibited arms was enhanced.

During the debate in parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said sportspersons will be entitled to get licences for different types of firearms.

As per the new law, no person will be allowed to posses more than two firearms. A life sentence (remainder of life) will be given to those manufacturing, selling, repairing and possessing 'prohibited' arms. The minimum punishment under this section will be 14 years.

Under the present law, the offence invites imprisonment of not less than seven years, but may extend to life imprisonment -- mostly up to 14 years.

According to an estimate, India has around 35 lakh gun licences. A total of 13 lakh people have licences to carry weapons in Uttar Pradesh, followed by militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir where 3.7 lakh people possess arms licences, most of which were taken in the name of personal security.

Punjab, which witnessed terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s, has around 3.6 lakh active gun licences, most of which were issued during the two decades of strife.

PTI ACB SRY