My title is: Internal Security | Arms (Amendment) Act 2019 | GS-3

Arms (Amendment) Act, 2019

2020-04-21 | 5 minutes

Arms Amendment Act

Purpose of the act

The Arms (Amendment) Act, 2019 aims to amend the Arms Act of 1959. It has been amended to curb the use of licensed firearms and ammunitions in crime. The new act aims to create more deterrent effect by creating more stringent punishments.



  • It reduces the number of licensed arms that a person can keep from 3 to 2 and increase the validity of the arm from 3 to 5 years. This includes the firearms kept on inheritance and heirloom basis. The extra arms can be deposited in the nearest police station or with a licensed firearms dealer. If the owner is a member of armed forces, it can be deposited in the unit of an armory. The excess firearms have to be delicensed within 90 days of the expiry of the 1-year form the enactment of the act.
  • The earlier act bans manufacture, sale, use, transfer, conversion, testing or proofing of firearms, shortening of barrels, and conversion of imitation firearms into firearms without license. The act adds the prohibition over obtaining or procuring unlicensed firearms or conversion of one firearm into another without license.
  • Members of rifle clubs or associations can use any firearm or ammunition for the target practice instead of just using air rifles or 22 bore rifles.
  • Increase in punishment for offenses:




Manufacture, sale, use, transfer, conversion, testing or proofing of firearms, shortening of barrels, and conversion of imitation firearms into firearms without license, obtain, procure Import or export of banned firearms

Earlier it was 3-7 years of imprisonment along with a fine. The act increases it to 7years to life term imprisonment along with fine.

Acquisition, possession or carrying of prohibited ammunition without a license

Earlier- 5-10 years along with fine

Now- 7-14 years along with fine

Dealing in prohibited firearms (including their manufacture, sale, and repair) without a license

Earlier- 7- life imprisonment and fine

Now- 10- life imprisonment and fine

Usage of firearms and ammunition result in death.

Earlier- Death penalty

Now – Death or life imprisonment

Celebratory firing

2-year imprisonment and fine of 1 lakh

Forcefully taking firearms from the police or the armed forces.


10 years and life imprisonment along with fine.

Organized crime

10 years and life along with fine.

Illicit trafficking

10 years and life imprisonment along with fine


  • Celebratory firing is punishable. Along with this forcefully taking firearms from the police or the armed forces is also a punishable offense.
  • Organized crimes have been defined as crimes that include continuing unlawful activity either as an individual or as a member of a syndicate (2 or more persons) by using unlawful means such as violence or coercion to gain economic or other benefits.
  • The act defines illicit trafficking to include the trade, acquisition, sale of firearms or ammunition into or out of India where the firearms are either not marked as per the Act or violate the provisions of the Act.
  • The central government may make a rule for tracking the use of firearms and its exchange from the manufacturers to other persons.


Analysis of the Act

According to the NCRB report 2016, in Punjab, 50% of the total murders were carried out using the licensed firearms. Similarly, many murders were conducted by the use of illegal firearms. So the act is good as it aims to curb the use of weapons, increase punishment for illegal firearms, organized crime and illegal trafficking.

However, there are various issues like:

  • The reduction in the number of licensed crime does not add to much weight as most of the crimes take place through unlicensed weapons.
  • To reduce the use of unlicensed firearms and ammunitions police reforms are needed as there is nexus between politics and police. In this modernization of police and follow up of Prakash Singh Badal guidelines of Supreme Court will be helpful.
  • Studies show that terrorist groups use automatic weapons which are prohibited. So it gets difficult to track them.
  • There is a need to put an effective check on organized and illicit trafficking. Also in India, most of the crimes are done by inter-state gangs. So, in that case, an agency like the National Investigation Agency should step in.
  • Punjab and Rajasthan are opposing the limits put on the firearms because in border areas where there is a conflict, there may be a need to increase the number of weapons that can be kept by a person.
  • Punjab and Rajasthan are also demanding that vintage firearms in their inactive state should be allowed and should not be included under the limit on licensed firearms and ammunition.