The Arms Act has been an essential piece of legislation for regulating the
manufacture, possession, and sale of firearms in many countries. This research
paper provides a comprehensive overview of the history and evolution of the Arms
Act, discussing the causes that led to its enactment and the various amendments
it has undergone over time. The paper also delves into the pros and cons of the
Act, analyzing its effectiveness in preventing the misuse of firearms while also
considering the impact it may have on the rights of law-abiding citizens to own
In addition, this research paper discusses the various case laws related to the
Arms Act, examining landmark cases that have helped shape the interpretation and
implementation of the Act in different jurisdictions. These case laws provide
insight into the practical implications of the Act, including its limitations
and areas where further reform may be needed.
Overall, this research paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the Arms Act,
highlighting its significance in regulating the use of firearms while also
acknowledging the challenges and controversies associated with its
implementation. The paper contributes to the ongoing discourse on gun control
laws and policy, providing valuable insights for policymakers and stakeholders
involved in this critical area.
The arms act in India regulates the country's possession, acquisition, and use
of firearms. The act was first introduced in 1878 and has since undergone
several revisions and amendments to address emerging security threats and ensure
the responsible use of arms. This research paper aims to explore the history and
evolution of the Arms Act in India, its Causes, objectives pros and cons, and
relevant case laws to understand the law and its threads easily.
History and Evolution
The arms act was first introduced in India in 1878 during British colonial rule.
Britishers were frightened by Indians and observed that Indians with arms were a
threat to their rule in this country. So, to dismiss the possibility of another
uprising in masses, in 1878, Britishers introduced the Indian Arms Act, of 1878.
the act was enacted to regulate the possession, manufacture, sale, and use of
firearms by civilians and to prevent their use in criminal activities.
The act imposed strict restrictions on the acquisition and possession of
firearms, and the ones who fails to obey the act resulted in severe penalties,
including imprisonment and fines. Before the Indian Rebellion of 1857, there
were few gun control laws in colonial India. The act included mandatory
licensing to carry a weapon but contained exclusions for some groups and
Mahatma Gandhi and other national leaders strongly oppose this act. He said"
among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the act
depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.
Over the years, The Act has undergone several revisions and amendments to
address emerging security threats and ensure the responsible use of arms. the
most significant amendments were made in 1959,2016 and 2019.
The 1959 amendment introduced stricter licensing and requirements and imposed
greater penalties for noncompliance.
The 2016 arms rule said that every person applying for an arms license or a
manufacturer shall get required to complete arms and ammunition safety training
courses. The training involved basic knowledge of arms and ammunition, safe
handling of arms, firing technique, secure storage, care, and transportation.
The Arms rule, 2016 says that after the compilation of eligibility criteria and
police verification, authorities need to grant or refuse the arms and ammunition
license application within 60 days.
The 2019 amendment introduced provisions for the mandatory registration of
firearms, the establishment of a central database, and the prohibition of
certain types of firearms.
Objectives of the Arms Act 1959
The main objective of the act gets mentioned in its preamble present in the
first sentence of the act which states "an act to consolidate and amend the law
relating to arms and ammunition".
Procedure to obtain a gun license in India
- To reduce the manufacturing and sale of illegal; firearms to reduce the
crimes related to firearms.
- Dangerous weapons are not available to civilians to maintain peace and
order in a society.
- Weapons for self-defense are available to citizens under authorized
- A license should be required to carry own arms and ammunition.
The procedure to obtain a gun license in India gets defined under section 13 of
the arms act, of 1959.
An applicant should file an application from A-1 in licensing authority and pay
a fee, if any.
Documents required for application:
Conditions in which firearm license gets issued:
- Passport-size photos
- Address proof
- Date of birth proof
- Identification proof
- Medical certificate
- Any other document required by the authority
The Arms act of 1959 allows citizens of India to get non-prohibited bore
It can be issued to anyone who can claim the following status:
- A person may be wealthy, or under threat, so he/she may apply for a
license for self-defense.
- Also issued for general security for banks and institutions, including
gunmen and protection squads for politicians and VVIPs.
- Agricultural farmers also get a license for firearms for their crop
protection from boars.
- Firearm licenses can also get issued for sports purposes like shooting.
- NRI who has a license in foreign countries for more than two years can
also apply for the same in India to bring back his/her firearm.
- Foreign nationals may also be allowed for a maximum of six months in 6
months during their stay in India under valid reasons.
The Arms Act in India was enacted to regulate the possession, acquisition, and
use of firearms in the country. The Act was introduced in response to several
factors, including the need to maintain law and order and prevent the misuse of
firearms in criminal activities.
During British colonial rule in India, the availability of firearms increased,
and they were used by civilians for various purposes, including hunting and
self-defense. However, this also led to an increase in the misuse of firearms,
as they were used in criminal activities, such as robbery and murder.
The misuse of firearms became a significant concern for the British authorities,
and they introduced the Indian Arms Act in 1878. The Act imposed strict
restrictions on the acquisition and possession of firearms, and failure to
comply with the Act resulted in severe penalties, including imprisonment and
After India gained independence in 1947, the Arms Act continued to be in force
in the country. However, several amendments were made to the Act over the years
to address emerging security threats and ensure the responsible use of arms.
One of the major causes of the Arms Act in India was to prevent the use of
firearms in acts of terrorism. Terrorist activities have been a significant
concern for the Indian government, and firearms have often been used in
terrorist attacks. The Act aims to prevent the spread of firearms among
civilians and to ensure that firearms are used only by responsible individuals
who have undergone proper training and have obtained the necessary licenses.
The Act also aims to control the spread of firearms among criminal elements. The
misuse of firearms has been a significant problem in India, with firearms often
being used in violent crimes, such as murder, robbery, and kidnapping. The Act
aims to prevent the acquisition and possession of firearms by criminals and to
ensure that firearms are used only for lawful purposes.
Pros and cons of the arms act:
The Arms Act in India has several pros and cons. On the one hand, the Act has
been effective in preventing the misuse of firearms in criminal activities and
in maintaining law and order. The Act also ensures that firearms are used only
by responsible individuals who have undergone proper training and have obtained
the necessary licenses.
On the other hand, the Act has been criticized for being too strict and for
infringing on the right to bear arms. Critics argue that the Act makes it
difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses, while criminals continue
to acquire firearms illegally. The Act has also been accused of being
ineffective in preventing acts of terrorism, as terrorists often use illegal
weapons that are not regulated by the Act.
Case studies involving the Arms Act:
State of Madhya Pradesh V. Ayub Khan,
29 August 2012
Criminal Appeal No.
1324 OF 2012 Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.5389 of
The accused got found with a country-made barrel gun with two rounds of bullets
and 50 grams of explosives without a license. he got charged under section
25(1)(a) of thr arms act 1959. The magistrate passed the order that the accused
was a first-time offender, but still, he was with illegal arms and ammunition
and so much time spent by the accused in custody. the capital punishment awarded
to the accused gets sentenced to one year of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of
Rs.100. later the accused filed the appeal of criminal revision before the
hon'ble high court of Madhya Pradesh, the state of Madhya Pradesh approached the
hon'ble supreme court of India the supreme court said that the lower court made
a serious error by not awarding the minimum sentence mentioned in the statue.
Finally, the hon'ble supreme court ordered that the accused undergo imprisonment
for three years and be liable to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/- in default of payment
of the fine, another three months of imprisonment.
One of the most high-profile cases under the arms act in India is Sanjay Dutt
Vs. The state of Maharashtra,
Criminal Appeal No. 1060 of 2007
where Sanjay Dutt a popular Bollywood actor was accused of possessing illegal
firearms, including an Ak-56 assault rifle, during the 1993 Mumbai bombings. The
case went on for several years and Dutt was finally convicted in 2006 under the
arms act and sentenced to six years in prison. The background of the case dates
back to march 12,1993, when a series of bomb blasts shocked Mumbai, killing over
250 people and injuring hundreds. The authorities launched an investigation, and
it was revealed that the blast was carried out by a group of terrorists with
links to Pakistan. During the investigation, the police came across several
individuals who were suspected of having links with the terrorists and one of
them was Sanjay Dutt.
Later he was arrested on April 19, 1994, and it was alleged that he had revived
the illegal firearms from a notorious gangster, Dawood Ibrahim, who was believed
to be the mastermind behind the bombings. Dutt claimed that he had acquired
those firearms to protect his family from potential threats, but he could not
produce a valid license for the firearms. The case went through several twists
and turns and Dutt was finally convicted under the arms act 2006. the trial
court sentenced him to six years of prison, but he was granted bail by the
supreme court. He was later acquitted of the more serious charges of terrorism
and conspiracy, but his conviction under the arms act was upheld.
Dutt appealed his conviction in the supreme court and in 2013 the court reduced
his sentence from six years to five years. He surrendered to the authorities and
served his sentence at Pune's Yerwada jail. he was released in 2016 on good
behavior. The case got widespread media attention and Dutt's fans and supporters
railed behind him arguing that he was a victim of circumstances. However, the
court upheld his conviction, emphasizing the importance of strict adherence to
the arms race to maintain law and order in the country.
- Shivam Kain, B.Com LLB
EmaiId: [email protected]
- Mayank Sharma, BALLB
EmaiId: [email protected]
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