DH NEWSUKUSAustraliaCanadaDH Latest NewsLatest Newsarms & ammunationsNEWSTechnologyInternationalDefence

Gun laws in Tokyo: Japan’s uniqueness, lessons for India

A gun-toting assassin on a shooting spree is a rarity in Japan as the country’s strict gun laws since the end of World War II make it almost impossible for a citizen to possess a lethal firearm. The attack on former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where an assailant shot him in the chest came as a surprise because getting hold of a weapon for a civilian is a herculean task.

In Japan, an individual has to go past 13 layers to get a gun license, making it the country that needs the highest number of clearances. To buy a gun, a person must achieve 95 per cent accuracy in a shooting test, clear a written test and go through a mental health assessment at a hospital. This includes speaking to family, friends and relatives of the applicant to check the antecedents and the license is valid only for three years.

Japan has a low crime rate and incidents involving guns are rare. With a cap on the number of gun shops in an area, the purchase of weapons always remains low. Even police personnel when not on duty cannot carry a firearm. The culture of not possessing arms in Japan can be attributed to the USA and traces back to World War II.

India’s gun laws are very strict and getting an arms license can take up to one year. Under the Arms Rules of 1962, there is a prohibition on possession, sale, acquisition, manufacture, import, export and transfer of firearms without a valid license. An individual who wants an arm license in India must be 21 years old. Valid reasons for owning guns are sports, crop protection and self-defense.

Just like in Japan, before a license is granted, the police carry out background checks on the applicant for two months. The licensing authorities interview the applicant after this where they state the reason to approve or reject the license. Once the license is approved, the applicant has to take arms handling course which includes firing and transporting a firearm.

The arms Act in India came to existence after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. The British enforced the Arms Act of 1878 under which any Indian could possess a firearm only if the British were convinced of his/her loyalty to the Crown. After independence, this law was scrapped and the Indian Arms Act was introduced. In India, under one arms license, a person can possess two weapons.

In northern India, keeping a gun is more of a status symbol and people tend to buy illegal weapons from local manufacturers. However, there is a thriving illegal arms trade industry in the country that ensures a steady supply of country-made weapons to criminal syndicates. Weapons are also being smuggled from Pakistan using drones. The number of seizures has witnessed over 340 per cent rise over the last year.

Over 74,477 weapons were seized by the police across the country with 28,850 weapons from Uttar Pradesh. Of these, only 3,742 arms were licensed and the rest were illegal. In the recent killing of Punjabi Singer Sidhu Moosewala, an AN-94 Russian Assault rifle was used. This was the first time that such a sophisticated weapon was used in a gang-war.

Mass shootings, gun wielding youth, including school children in the country have often hit the headlines and chilling videos of these have gone viral. This has often prompted the debate on the subject— Right to arms vs Right to life. Recently the US passed a new bill to bring in amendments to gun licences following increasing gun attacks.

The bill seeks to impose penalties on straw purchasing- a term to describe the buying of firearms on behalf of someone else and it ranges from 15 to 25 years of imprisonment. It also seeks to make the process of getting a license more cumbersome, there is a provision in the bill that requires every federal and state agency to submit a detailed report that gives clearance to an individual.

The laws in the United Kingdom are more stringent as compared to other countries. Processing, purchasing or acquiring a firearm without a license can lead to imprisonment of up to five years, and seven years if the firearm has been converted. Even on acquiring a license, it is an offense to carry a firearm in public, trespass a property using a firearm or possessing them when drunk.

Applicants must be 18 years or older and must not have a history of violence or any other crime during their entire lifetime. They must also not be suffering from mental illnesses or have been previously barred from the process. The license is issued for a period of five years and can be extended upon expiry.


Post Your Comments

Back to top button