Understanding gun control legislation of different countries

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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.

Exam track

Prelims take away

  • Various gun control legislations
  • Arms Act