How to apply for a gun licence in India?
1. Filing of application
In order to obtain an arms licence, an application for the same has to be first filed with licensing authority as directed under section 13 of the Arms Act, 1959. The arms licence application forms are available with the district superintendent of police of the given state where the citizens reside. Alternatively, some states, like New Delhi, have also made the form available online which can be downloaded by the applicants.
In Delhi, the licensing authority is the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Licensing), Delhi. Moreover, the applicant has to apply to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Licensing) as well. The people who reside outside of the metropolitan areas have to apply to the Sub- Divisional Magistrate for the gun licence.
2. Verification of the application
One when the application for procuring a gun licence is received by the licensing authority, it asks for a report on the application from the Officer In Charge of the nearest police station for the purpose of police verification. The Officer In Charge will then send in his report within the time limit that he or she has been prescribed.
Police verification of the gun licence application is required in order to check whether the applicant has any prior criminal record and also to verify whether all the information filled in the form is true or not. The police usually visit the address provided in order to check if it is indeed the correct one and can also speak to the neighbours of the applicant and ask them questions about him/her. This is because people who have a criminal record cannot be granted an arms licence under the law.
The applicant has to write in the addresses of all the places that he or she might have resided at for the previous five years. The duration and the time period of the applicant’s stay at each residence have also to be mentioned. In a case where the applicant has lived at more than one location in the last five years, then the local police stations of each of the addresses will be asked to make a separate verification report.
3. Grant of licence
In addition to the report of the Officer In Charge of the nearest police station, the licensing authority can also conduct its own inquiry if it thinks necessary. The licensing officer can interview the applicant in order to determine whether he or she is of sound mind or not. Upon considering these points, the licensing authority will then issue or refuse to issue the arms licence. Reports of the same will also be sent to the criminal branch of the police as well as the national crime record bureau.
In cases wherein the Officer In Charge of the nearest police station is unable to send in his report within the given time limit, then the licensing authority can pass an order of grant or refusal of the arms licence without having received the police report.
Important points to note before applying for a gun licence
• The maximum number of guns that person can possess more than three guns. However, every firearm has to be endorsed individually after permission for the same has been taken from the licence authority. What this means is that if one has obtained a particular type of gun, say a revolver, then the revolver is endorsed on the applicant’s arms licence. Now if the applicant wants to buy another gun, for example a shotgun, then he or she will have to apply to the licensing authority again stating their need for the additional weapon and to endorse the same into their arms licence. Only after the licensing authority has approved of the second application that the license holder buy the second weapon.
• The licensing authority has full power and discretion to refuse grant of arms licence even if all the procedure for application for a gun licence has been complied with. But if the authority has to grant the gun licence if the reason cited for application is self-protection
• The courts have previously held that if the licensing authority fails to dispose of the application for arms licence within a period of three months, then it will be assumed that the authority has granted the arms licence after the expiry of the three months period (Ganesh Chandra Bhatt v. Distt. Magistrate, Almora and Ors., AIR 1993 ALL. 291)
• Section 13(3)(a)(i) of the Arms Act, 1959 specifies that the smooth bore guns with barrel length of less than 20 inches cannot be sold to civilians.
• In case the gun is required for protection of crops, and where the licensing authority believes that a muzzle loading gun will not be adequate enough to serve this purpose, the licensing authority can grant a gun licence for any other kind of smoothbore gun which would be sufficient to provide crop protection.
Necessary documents for application for grant of gun licence in India
The following is a list of documents needed in order to apply for an arms licence in India:
• Election card.
• Ration card.
• Proof of age of the applicant: birth certificate or certificate of leaving school.
• Copies of income tax returns, challan or assessment orders of the last three years.
• Character certificates from two responsible citizens of the applicant’s locality.
• Certificate of physical fitness.
• Education qualification proof: self-attested copies of the certificates.
• Documents supporting the justification for the need to possess a gun.
Circumstances under which a civilian can possess arms
A civilian can possess guns in India only under the following circumstances:
• If there is a threat to his or her life and the applicant seeks to possess a firearm for the purpose of self-defence.
• If the applicant intends to use the gun for sports purposes i.e. target shooting. However, firearms cannot be used to for hunting animals for sporting purposes or for food purposes.
• If the firearms are required for the perfection of crops.
Grounds for refusal for grant of arms licence
The arms licence can be refused by the licensing authority on any of the following grounds:
• If the licence sought is with regard to a prohibited arm or ammunition.
• If the applicant is of unsound mind.
• If the applicant is barred by any law in force from carrying or possessing any arms or ammunition.
• If the licensing authority believes that the application for arms licence should be denied in public interest and safety of the public.
• If the applicant is unsuitable for being granted an arms licence for reasons stated in the Arms Act, 1959.
In the instance that the licensing authority refuses to grant the arms licence, then it has to provide the reasons for refusal in writing as well. The applicant who has been refused the arms licence so can ask the licensing authority to prove him or her with the grounds for refusal. The licensing authority will then furnish to the applicant, a statement which lays down the points of which the licence of refused briefly. However, the licensing authority can also refuse to provide these grounds for refusal to the applicant if it thinks that it would go against public interest if these grounds are revealed to the applicant. That being said, Section 14(2) of the Arms Act, 1959 explicitly makes the provision that the licensing authority cannot use the ground that the applicant does not own enough property in order to refuse to give the arms licence.
Types of guns that can be possessed by civilians
Owning an arms licence does not entitle the person to own any type of gun or arms. As per government restrictions, a civilian can only own guns that fall under the category of Non-Prohibited Bore (NPB). NPS firearms can be bought from licenced arms dealers within the country.
Given below is a list of arms that are classified as Non-Prohibited Bore weapons:
• 0.22” sporting rifle
• 0.315” sporting rifle
• 30-06 sporting rifle
• 0.32” pistol
• 0.32” revolver (such revolvers can be of the maker of Nirbheek, Anmol, MK- III and MK- IV)
• 0.22” Revolver
• All types of sporting ammunition
How to procure a gun after obtaining the arms licence?
After a person be granted the arms licence, the next step is for him or her to procure the firearm which can be booked in advanced with any licenced firearms dealer. Alternatively, guns can also be bought from the Indian Ordinance factory which provides downloadable forms on their website obtaining a gun licence at http://ofb.gov.in/index.php?wh=Sporting%20Arms&lang=en#subclass1.
The important papers needed for obtaining a gun from the Indian Ordinance Factory are listed below:
• A copy of the arms licence in either Hindi or English with the relevant date and place.
• Copy of the No Objection Certificate which has to be given to the factory owner and the police authorities. But if the applicant’s arms licence is applicable in the whole of India, then he or she need not provide the No Objection Certificate (NOC).
• The transport licence of the location wherein the factory is situated.
When can a gun licence be cancelled?
An arms licence can be cancelled by the licensing authority under the following conditions:
• If the arms licence holder hides or does not inform the authorities of the correct material facts with respect to procuring the arms licence, then the authorities have the authority to temporarily hold the gun for a certain duration of time.
• Gun licence can also be suspended if the licence holder violates the provisions of the Arms Act, 1959.
• Gun licence can be suspended if the public and public space is under threat because of the licence holder
• Arms licence can also be cancelled if the firearm is not delivered to the licence holder by end of the validity of the licence period.
Some additional information
• Transfer of ownership of a firearm- Guns can be transferred to legal heirs of a gun owner. If the arms licence is valid during the time of transfer and lifespan of the owner of the gun, then an application regarding the same has to attach to Form A of the person to whom the owner of the weapon wants to transfer the gun to.
On the other hand, if the arms licence has expired, then along with the application attached to Form A, two passports sized photos should also be attached and the legal heir should not have any objection to the transfer of ownership of the gun.
• Sale of gun- A person can sell off their gun to another person. For this, an application has to be submitted along with an Rs. 5 court stamp has to be submitted. A copy of the original gun licence should also be attached and the arms branch should send a notice about the intention of the licence holder to sell the gun. In addition to this, the person intending to sell the gun has to attach all the documents that he or she had submitted when they have originally purchased the weapon.
• Possession of an Indian gun licence by a Non-Resident India- It is normally difficult for foreign residents to get a gun license in India especially if they visit India only for short periods of time. Whether or not a Non-Resident Indian citizen can obtain a gun licence in India depends upon the laws and regulations of the country that such a person lives in. But mainly, the Non-Resident Indian citizen will have to prove two things to the authorities: that he or she has a permanent residence in the foreign country and that he or she has a valid reason for needing to possess a gun license in India, like for hunting in India.