Understanding gun control legislation of different countries
- U.S. witnessed two episodes of mass shootings in a span of 11 days that killed more than 30 people including elementary school children.
- 2020: there were 24,576 homicides, of which approximately 79% involved use of a firearm.
What do gun laws in the U.S. say?
- Second Amendment of U.S. constitution: Right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
- Often seen as the root cause of all firearm-related violence.
- U.S. SC : held that amendment protects right to “keep and bear arms” for self-defence.
How are Arms regulated in Canada?
- Recently, Canada introduced legislation to amend its Firearms Act.
- It is proposing to institute a ‘national freeze’ on handguns.
- Preventing sale, purchase, transfer and import of handguns into Canada.
- Significant as handguns were used in 49% of all firearm-related homicides in 2020.
- Possessing fully-automatic weapon, unless registered before 1978, is illegal in Canada.
- Gun licences are valid for five years and given to individuals at least 18 years of age upon completing Canadian Firearms Safety Course.
- Vetting is done to ensure that applicants do not have history of violence, suffering from mental illnesses or were previously barred from process.
- Proposed legislation would revoke licences from holders deemed to be danger to themselves or others.
- It is mandatory for individuals and businesses to update records before transferring ownership of non-restricted items.
How do gun laws work in Japan?
- Acquiring a gun in Japan is particularly difficult.
- Present various documents
- Establish their ‘needs’
- Undertake an approximately month-long training on handling and safety
- Pass a scrutiny of criminal records and medical health, and
- Exam to prove eligibility.
- Buying a weapon too requires a separate certification (from the dealer) mentioning desired model.
- Eligibility: Applicants must be 18 years
- Not suffering from mental illnesses
- Not having a license revoked less than five years ago
- Not dependent on alcohol or narcotic substances, and
- Have a fixed residence.
- Any violation is punishable with imprisonment for a period up to three years, which could extend up to five years or more along with a fine of 10 million yen if done for “purpose of profit”.
- Some link Japan’s aversion to firearms with its demilitarisation after WWII.
- Since overall crime rate is low, most Japanese see no need for firearms.
How is it in New Zealand?
- Turnaround in gun-law legislation came in 2019 after mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.
- Legislation now requires firearms dealers to provide licence numbers of all its employees at a facility.
- Mandatory for all weaponry to have identification number.
- In case a dealer receives an item without the same, they are required to have them stamped or engraved within 30 days of receipt.
- Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 16 years of age
- Undertake training in handling and storing firearms, and
- Pass an exam.
- Vetting process requires applicant to furnish contact details of known people to ascertain that she/he is a ‘fit and proper person’.
- If an applicant has resided overseas for six months or more in past 10 years, she/he need to provision criminal history check from each country.
What about India?
- Eligibility: Gun licence applicants must be at least 21 years
- Not convicted of any offence involving violence, of ‘unsound mind’ or a threat to public safety and peace.
- Procedure: Upon receiving an application, licensing authority (i.e., MHA), asks officer in-charge of nearest police station to submit report about applicant after thorough vetting.
- Arms Act amended in 2019 reduces number of firearms that an individual can procure from three to two.
- Indian laws are elaborate in dealing with sale and unlawful trade of weapons.
- It has specific provisions on curtailing use of licensed weapons to ensure social harmony.
- No entity is permitted to sell or transfer any firearm which does not bear name of maker, manufacturer’s number or any other visible or stamped identification mark.
- Any act of conversion or unlawful import-export is punishable with an imprisonment term of seven years, which may extend to life imprisonment and be liable to monetary fines.
Prelims take away
- Various gun control legislations
- Arms Act