There is no restriction on issuance of new arms licences and carrying them for self-defence, the Punjab Police Tuesday said in a significant climbdown from the state government’s order earlier this month banning any kind of display of arms and putting a three-month moratorium on issuing new licences.
Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) Sukhchain Singh Gill said new arms licences are being issued in state on a merit basis considering threat perception and after proper verification.
“One can carry a licenced weapon for self-defence but should not glorify or display it in a way to threaten someone,” Gill said seeking to clear the confusion over the drive against the glorification of arms.
On November 13, the Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government banned the public display of firearms as well as songs promoting gun culture and violence. It had also ordered a review of arms licences within the next three months.
Directions were also issued to register FIRs against those making hate speech against any community.
On November 26, state police chief Gaurva Yadav gave three days to people to remove objectionable content promoting gun culture from their social media profiles, adding that no case would be registered till then. The DGP had issued the ultimatum a day after state police booked a 11-year-old boy for posing with a toy gun in photograph that his father had uploaded in 2015 when the minor was only four years old. Gill’s remarks came on the day the 72-hour ultimatum came to an end.
Gill said state police has lodged 137 FIRs so far against offenders for publicly displaying firearms. Five FIRs had been registered in hate speech cases and one for promoting arms in a song, he added.
Addressing the media, Gill said police’s motive was not to indiscriminately lodge FIRs but to create a deterrent against the glorification of firearms.
On the glorification of weapons on social media, Gill said district police chiefs had been asked to properly verify the facts before taking action. “Officials need to properly verify whether it amounts to glorification of weapons, which type of weapon it is and what the person’s antecedents are,” said Gill.
Gill said there are about 3.45 lakh licensed arms in the state.