Come April 2019, names of all arms licence holders – new or old – will be included in a national database and they will be issued a unique identification number (UIN), according to the Home Ministry.
The move is aimed at keeping a tab on authorised private gun holders, many of whom are often found involved in crimes and celebratory firing leading to loss of lives.
Every licensing and renewing authority will have to enter the data in the National Database of Arms Licenses system, which will generate a UIN, and with effect from April 1, 2019, any arms licence without UIN shall be considered invalid, the ministry said in a notification.
The decision has been taken by exercising powers under Section 44 of the Arms Act, 1959 (54 of 1959) by amending the Arms Rules, 2016. These rules will be called the Arms (Second Amendment) Rules, 2018.
Additionally, any existing licencee holding multiple licences – under Form III – shall on or before April 1 make an application for grant of a single licence in respect of all firearms held by him or her under his or her UIN to the concerned licensing authority.
Where the applicant applying for a licence for restricted category of arms or ammunition is also a holder of a licence for permissible category, or where the applicant applying for permissible category of arms or ammunition is also a holder of a licence for restricted category, the licensing authority concerned shall issue a new licence for restricted or permissible category of arms or ammunition under the existing UIN of the licencee, the notification said.
Separate licence books will be generated in case of each licence, separately for restricted and permissible categories of arms and ammunition with an overall ceiling of three firearms under a single UIN, it said.
Home Ministry officials said the amendments will eliminate the possibilities of issuing arms licence to persons whose antecedents are not bona fide.
Under Section 3 of the Arms Act, it is essential to obtain an arms possession licence issued by a competent licensing authority, by any person for acquisition, possession or carrying any firearms or ammunition.