With the demand for personal arms increasing manifold given the heightened security concerns these days,acquiring them may soon cease to be a cumbersome process. The Government is now thinking of overhauling the licensing procedures to make it easier for genuine seekers,like private security firms,to acquire arms.
For the same,the Home Ministry has sought suggestions from all state governments on amending the relevant provisions of the antiquated Arms Act so as to simplify the procedures.
Rigorous background checks and thorough scrutiny of the applicants security requirement needed to be put in place,sources said,adding that the amended rules would also prevent anti-social elements from obtaining the licences.
In its letter dated January 29,the Centre has asked the state governments to inform it about the restrictions currently in place and to suggest additional steps that can be taken to exclude this non-deserving class from obtaining licensed arms.
Reforming the system in this area can be a double-edged sword. So we have to tread very carefully and that is why we have initiated this consultation process with the state Governments, a Home Ministry official said.
Sources said the Government was also considering a proposal to make it necessary for the applicants to undergo basic training in the use of arms. Giving licensed arms to people without training them on how to use it can be very dangerous. Training is now being foreseen as a mandatory requirement for obtaining arms, sources said.
Another major step being contemplated is to allow private companies to import certain category of arms or even enable them to manufacture them within the country. As of now,these arms are manufactured or procured only by the government ordnance factories. The ownership and user profiles are also being sought to be redefined. As an example,sources said,the guard at a bank branch is technically not authorised to fire the gun that he carries because the gun,in most cases,is registered under the name of the branch manager. The guard is only a retainer. Such anomalies needed to be rectified as early as possible,they pointed out.
However,some of the biggest beneficiaries of the proposed rule changes would be the private security firms whose services are increasingly being sought.