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Law Of Firearms In India - Pranjali Pandya

Updated: Nov 23, 2021


It was in the year 1959 when the Parliament of India brought The Arms Act[1]. The very object or aim of the act was to curb out illegal possession of weapons and use of violence which is being caused by arms and ammunitions. The Act deals with guideline which is required and mandatorily followed to possess a firearm. In an addition to this particular act, India also has Arms Rules 1962 which deals with the manufacturing, selling, possessing, acquisition, import–export, and transportation of any kind of firearm is totally banned.

The general issues relating to this context is as to how to use the firearms after getting a licence. Another concern here is if an individual purchases a firearm without any license then what are the consequences for the same. These issues have been duly covered in this particular article.


Indian Arms Act 1878 was enacted during the British – India time. The entire power to deal with the firearms act was under the hands of the British. During, the period of the British rule in India and during the time 1858 act was in force, no Indian were allowed to manufacture, possess, sell, or carry firearms. Whereas, the British people had the power to sell, manufacture, possess, and even carry the firearms. Getting the possession of license during the British rule in India was a difficult task, not only difficult but it was known to be a punishable offense to carry any firearm without a license for the Indians. Any violation to this rule, imprisonment of three years and fine was implied. The Exception to this particular rule was – Individual from Kodava (Coorg) race was having authority to possess and carry firearms without a license.


The 1959 Arms Act was passed with strict rules, there have been many amendments to the act making it stricter than the previous one. The Firearms License in the Indian context have been divided into two types:

1. Prohibited Bore License – which includes all semi – automatic and fully automatic firearms.

2. Non – Prohibited Bore License – can be issued to anyone who furnished reasonable and good reason. Individual wanted license to carry firearm for private– defence must also proves that there lies a threat to his life.

Renewal of license must be done after every three years. Some local areas may apply condition for the grant of license, in the district of Firozpur, in the state of Punjab had condition every applicant for license to at least plant ten trees.


Today, after so many amendments in the Arms Act[2], getting a license to possess and carry a firearm is a difficult task.

The criteria for getting a license to carry a firearm is - an individual must be eighteen years old whereas in certain conditions one can also get the license at the age of sixteen years, which is known as Junior Target License. For the grant of license to carry firearms at the age of sixteen, there is a requirement to be followed; in such a case a supervisor is being appointed who is a major.

Ø Required Details to be furnished for the grant of Firearms – Identification proof, Address proof, Proof of the age, Education details, Passport size photo, Income tax returns of the preceding three years, physical and good mental health certificate.

Ø Role of the Police Officer - It is the role of the Police Officer to carry out a proper background check of the applicant. The Officer would also interview the applicant whereas the investigation and the interview report must duly be sent to Police Criminal Branch and National Crime Record Bureau.


In areas which are public places or prohibited places, in such areas one cannot use the firearms. One is not prohibited to use firearms in such an area, but also one cannot carry with themselves the firearms. When one is given the license to use the gun, the same must be used with proper caution. It is being advised according to the act that the same must be used when there is a life threatening to an individual being. In case if a person had used firearm without any proper justification in such a case the person can be prosecuted criminally, depending upon the injury caused to the victim or if in case the use of gun leads to death, then the alleged accused would be prosecuted under the offense of murder.

Second is the situation, where in case if an individual does not have license to possess a firearm and had purchased the same from an open market, in such cases the person would be entitled to imprisonment of three to five years under Arms Act. If that individual uses that firearm in a public place in such a case firstly there is no license, secondly, there is an illegal use of a firearm in a public place – then also the person will be duly prosecuted under criminal action as the act is intentional.


In the month of April 2019, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had planned and had directed the authorities to prepare a National Database of Arms Licenses in India. This database is to include all the details of the individual who are the holders of the firearms license in India. The holders are to be issued with a unique identity number.


India has around the second most number of deaths which is being caused due to the use of firearms, this increase shows that the Arms Act had yet not been able to curb the easy availability of the illegal weapons, which are being smuggled and brought to India through different means.

[1] Act No. 54 of 1959. [2] Process to Obtain Firearms – Chapter III of Arms Act, 1959.

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