CHANDIGARH: In view of the troubled history of the state, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has urged the Centre not to reduce the number of firearms permissible on a license from three to one in Punjab.
Singh on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a review of a proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs to amend the Arms Act, 1959, to restrict the number of firearms from three to one. He has, however, made it clear that if some states are keen to reduce the number of weapons than is currently permissible on a license, they may be allowed to do so without prejudice to the other states.
Punjab has the third-highest number of arms license holders in the country with 3.59 lakh active gun licenses, mostly issued during the two decades of militancy which had engulfed the state in the 80s and 90s.
In his letter, Amarinder pointed out that he had personally raised the issue with the Prime Minister during the latter’s recent visit to Punjab for the opening of Kartarpur corridor.
The Punjab Government was in agreement with most of the proposed amendments but had strong reservations regarding restricting the number of firearms a licensee can possess - from three to one, he said.
He stressed that Punjab being a border state and having gone through a long period of terrorist violence, a large number of people possess more than one firearm and many farmers who reside away from the villages in their agricultural lands, also possess firearms for crop protection. Therefore, he wrote, it was also significant to note that only a very small fraction of crime was committed using licensed weapons.
These facts, he said, could be independently ascertained as they were within the domain of the MHA.
Amarinder observed that restricting the number of firearms permissible on a license from three to one may not be of much help for control of crimes. On the contrary, a large number of people would be inconvenienced by way of surrender of additional weapons and the farming community would also be deprived of weapons meant for crop protection, he added.