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Importing Arms & Ammo into India

The legal aspects of owning, shooting, importing arms/ ammo and other related legal aspects as well as any other legal queries. Please note: This INCLUDES all arms licensing issues/ queries!

Importing Arms & Ammo into India

Postby penpusher » Sat Dec 09, 2006 1:41 pm

Arms Act,1959

10. Licence for import and export of arms, etc.
(1) No person shall bring into, or take out of, India by sea, land or air any arms or ammunition unless he holds in this behalf a licence issued in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder:

Provided that---

(a) a person who is entitled by virtue of this Act or any other lay for the time being in force to have, or is not prohibited by this Act or such other law from having, in his possession any arms or ammunition, may without a licence in this behalf bring into, or take out of, India such arms or ammunition in reasonable quantities for his own private use;

According to me Section 10,sub-section 1,clause a) clearly indicates that if my Arms License allows me to own a particular firearm,I have the right to import a firearm of that particular category without a license for importing it.If my interpretation is correct,the ban on the import of firearms is illegal.

11. Power to prohibit import or export of arms, etc.
The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, prohibit the bringing into, or the taking out of, India, arms or ammunition of such classes and de.scriptions as may be specified in the notification.

12. Power to restrict or prohibit transport of arms
(1) The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette,---

(a) direct that no person shall transport over India or any part thereof arms or ammunition of such classes and de.scriptions as may be specified in the notification unless he holds in this behalf a licence issued in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder; or

(b) prohibit such transport altogether.

(2) Arms or ammunition trans-shipped at a seaport or an airport in India are transported within the meaning of this section.


The aforesaid sections are very clear that the govt. can prohibit the import or transport of a particular category of arms and/or ammunition but does not entitle the govt. to allow some sections of the citizens to import firearms and bar others from doing so.Nor does it allow the govt. to prohibit the import and transfer of all categories of firearms.

No policy of the govt. can be above an Act of the Parliament

I would like to find out what the other members think

Sukhpreet
Last edited by penpusher on Sat Dec 09, 2006 8:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Importing Arms & Ammo into India

Postby mundaire » Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:11 pm

Sukhpreet, while I am not a lawyer, or very conversant with legalese - I do believe that the original Arms Act, allows the government to make sweeping changes, by issuing a simple notification in the official gazette.

AFAIK Arms Rules of 1962 were brought into effect with such a notification, and were not tabled in the Parliament for debate and discussion...

Someone had pointed on the forum (I don't recall who and what post), that the restriction on imports of firearms and ammunition is in the Exim (Export Import) Policy. Would this Exim policy not need to be amended as well?

Cheers!
Abhijeet

P.S. For those simply looking for info on how and under what conditions can arms and/ or ammo be imported into India - please check out the following 'knowledge base' article:

Importing Arms & Ammo into India

Since there have been so many queries regarding this topic - I think it's about time we made it a permanent entry into the knowledge based (Pl. NOTE: this article DOES NOT cover the import of airguns OR pellets, those will be dealt with under a separate article). OK so here goes -

Import of Firearms

As things stand today, there are ONLY TWO ways in which a firearm can be imported into India.

1. Under Transfer of Residence (TR) Rules

(a) You are required to have owned the firearm in your country of residence for a minimum period of ONE YEAR on a VALID firearms permit, prior to your return to India. For those living in the USA, this could either mean a CCW permit OR if your state of residence does not have a CCW policy, you should at the very minimum look at getting a firearm registration and also get a hunting permit of some sort. For those living in UK this would be a Shotgun Certificate Or a Firearm Certificate. Basically you need a piece of govt. paperwork in (your country of residence) acknowledging your LEGAL possession of the firearm.

(b) Each returning citizen is allowed to bring back ONLY ONE firearm - NO relaxations on this whatsoever. Considering the ridiculously steep prices of handguns in India, I would suggest you consider bringing back one of those.

(c) If you do not possess a valid Indian arms license on returning to India, the customs will confiscate the gun and give you a receipt for the same. Now you must go to your local licensing authority and apply for an arms license for the type of gun you have imported. Only once you have procured a valid license for the type of firearm you have imported, will the customs release the firearm and enter it on your license. You would also need to pay applicable duties to the customs.

(d) ALL FIREARMS imported under transfer of residence have a condition entered on the arms license, that they CANNOT be sold/ gifted/ or transferred to ANYONE else for the duration of the NATURAL LIFE of the original importer. So forget about bringing a gun back to gift to your dad/ uncle/ brother etc.

(e) While considering which firearm to import under TR rules, please STAY AWAY from Prohibited Bore (PB) calibres and firearms - since obtaining a license for them in India would be next to impossible. For what constitutes a PB calibre/ firearm, please see the relevant article under the Legal section of the "Knowledge Base" here.

2. By a "Renowned shot"

(a) Import permits are ONLY issued to civilians who have attained the status of "Renowned shooter", till last year it used to be limited only to the top 25 shooters in each event, subject to minimum 30 shooters competing in that particular event. If the number of shooters was less than 30, then 50% of the total participants were declared as "Renowned Shooters". Currently this status is awarded to any shooter who achieves the MQS (minimum qualifying score) at the National Shooting Championship Competition (NSCC).

(b) Renowned shooters do not have to pay any duty on the arms or ammunition that they import.

(c) This status is certified by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) which is under the Min. of Sports, and is valid only for 1 year. The renowned shot may ONLY import ONE (pre-approved target grade models of) firearms for the particular discipline in which he archived renowned shot status. He/ she may also apply for and be given permission for direct import of up 15,000 rounds of ammo for that class of firearm.

(d)There is an article on indianshooting.com covering this entire process.

Import of Ammunition

(a) Up to 50 rounds of ammo may be imported as part of baggage (by an Indian resident returning from overseas) PROVIDED that the person importing this ammunition holds a VALID Indian arms license to possess a firearm (for that calibre ammunition).

(b) There is of course going to be the airline to contend with, every airline has it's own set of rules regarding how much ammo can be checked in by a passenger and in what manner it has to be checked in, forms to be filled out etc. So check with your airline prior to making these arrangements.

(c) If in the country of departure you do not possess a valid permit to legally possess the type of ammunition you plan to purchase (& import into India) - then you would need to have the arms dealer "consign to the airline". Basically the dealer directly delivers the ammo to the airline, for this there will be a handling fee... firstly for a measly 50 rounds of ammo, most dealers will not bother taking this additional hassle, even if they do - the handling fee is likely to be substantially higher than the cost of 50 rounds of ammo!

More on ammo imports on the thread here - viewtopic.php?t=2532

(d) However as mentioned previously, people who are 'renowned shooters' may import ammunition (duty free), against a valid import permit.

Hope this helps clarify the legal situation - as on date.
Last edited by mundaire on Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby cottage cheese » Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:15 pm

sukhpreet singh sidhu\";p=\"7583 wrote:
No policy of the govt. can be above an Act of the Parliament

Hi Sukhpreet,

I guess this is one instance where our netas would be useful for us pro-gunners. Necessary evil. Educate out netas appropriately and pitt netas against babus. I'd love to see the resulting sandbox war.

Bureaucrats will never come out of the mold. Politicians, due to the nature of their trade, however, are very flexible to expediencies. What's stopping us from effecting a political lobby for a more reasonable Arms Act?
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby Sujay » Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:27 pm

Sukhpreet,

Before I put my view, I would like to know what do you mean by

No policy of the govt. can be above an Act of the Parliament
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby penpusher » Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:33 pm

Abhijeet,

Section 44 of the Arms Act 1959 empowers the govt. to make Rules.It however is very specific as to the subject matter of any such Rules and also lays down that the Rules have to be approved by "each House of the Parliament"(sub section 3).In any case the Arms Rules have to be in keeping with the provisions of the Act itself.

Regarding stoping import alotgether or restricting it to only some classes, is not envisaged in the Act,or atleast as I understand it.EXIM policy can not be used to undermine an Act of the Parliament.

What I wish to know is that if you go by the wording and the spirit of the Act (keeping in view its objectives) is the Exim policy with regard to the import of Arms and Ammunition,not in violation of the Act itself. The Act itself says that the import of ammunition has to be in a reasonable quantity and prescribes no limits.Where as the EXIM policy lays down that no more 50 cartridges can be imported at one time.

Sukhpreet
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby penpusher » Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:40 pm

Sujay,

Act implies a Bill approved by both the Houses of the Parliament,signed by the President and then published in the Gazette of India.A policy is formulated at the level of the Ministry concerned and has to be in accordance with the existing laws of the land and the guidelines laid there in.

Sukhpreet
Last edited by penpusher on Sat Dec 09, 2006 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby Sujay » Sun Dec 10, 2006 6:24 pm

Sukhpreet,

According to me Section 10,sub-section 1,clause a) clearly indicates that if my Arms License allows me to own a particular firearm,I have the right to import a firearm of that particular category without a license for importing it.If my interpretation is correct,the ban on the import of firearms is illegal.

Section 11 ( as you have quoted) allows the govt to prohibit import and export of arms and ammunition through a notification. As I understand, since such notification is allowed under the Arms Act itself, it cannot be treated as a separate policy of Govt.


The aforesaid sections are very clear that the govt. can prohibit the import or transport of a particular category of arms and/or ammunition but does not entitle the govt. to allow some sections of the citizens to import firearms and bar others from doing so.Nor does it allow the govt. to prohibit the import and transfer of all categories of firearms.

How did you infer these two points.. ( Govt cannot do)

1) Selective import to certain category of citizens and
2) Blanket ban on import and transfer of firearms

becasue the act does say that govt can stop such transport altogether. Also there is no mention whether govt can / cannot impose selective ban .
If I have missed these , please point it out.
Last edited by Sujay on Tue Mar 27, 2007 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby penpusher » Sun Dec 10, 2006 6:47 pm

Sujay,

This is what the Arms Act says"arms or ammunition of such classes and descriptions as may be specified in the notification"

So the Act empowers the govt. to ban the import of specific category of arms and ammunition.The ban would then be for all those to whom the Arms Act and allied Rules are applicable.The govt has to specify in the notification the class and description of arms and ammunition that is prohibited for import into the country.

No where does the Act say that the govt. is allowed to stop some categories of paople from importing arms and saying that others would be allowed to import arms.Any stoppage of import would be for only the specified category of arms and ammunition.

Slective ban is only for the specified category of arms and ammunition.


That is why I feel that the ban on the import of arms and ammunition by an ordinary citizen not barred by the Arms Act and Rules from holding the said category of arms and ammunition is discriminatory,not allowed by the Act and Rules and therefore illegal.

It seems that the govt. never bothered to issue a notification under the Arms Act,rather they stopped the import by placing arms and ammunition in the restricted list.I may be wrong on this and will soon know.

Just my interpretation,now give yours :wink:

Sukhpreet
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby Sujay » Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:08 pm

Sukhpreet,

The use of phrases like "such classes and description", " as may think fit" , " as may be applicable" etc leaves the meaning open to interpretation. A defensive interpretation of this may be that since the Act does not specifically requires enumerating different kinds of firearms (while effecting a ban), the Govt can ban import of all weapons i.e if govt means all kinds of weapons; it is an acceptable description of the class and description. of weapons as required by the Act.

My views regarding the power to allow some categories to import while debarring others is somewhat similar. However, in this case a connection is made with association of shooting sports which strictly is not a category. I mean anybody fulfilling the requirements of such notification can import the airguns and firearms. It is not a discrimination as such as it would have been if allowed only on grounds of age, sex, religion, caste etc.

What I feel is the ban cannot be challenged as to be running contrary to any provision of the Arms Act. Rather, we have to question as to why a commodity which is produced and sold in India cannot be imported ; by licence holders. When Govt owned establishments manufacture and sell firearms why disallow importing it ? Added to it, the IOFB claims to have exported small arms to every country under the sun ! To do this we need to find a law or bettter an international treaty and locate the clause appropriate to challenge the import ban.

If you are interested, I can PM you a list of grounds on which the ban can be challenged ( compiling ). It won't be professional though, just what I think fit.
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby penpusher » Tue Dec 12, 2006 12:08 am

Sujay,

In order to understand certain provisions of an Act,the meaning of the words contained therein ,are not the sole basis of an interpretation of those, or the only basis to reach an understanding of them.

When any Bill is intorduced in any House of the Parliament,along with the title of the Bill,the member introducing the Bill also lays out the salient features of the Bill and the purpose of introducing the Bill(or the objectives of the Bill).In order to understand the meaning of the power of the govt. to prohibit the import arms or/and ammunition ,one should also look at what the objectives were of introducing the Bill[The Indian Arms (Ammendment) Bill(No.49 of 1953)]

I will enumerate those that are the most relevant:-

" (b)(ii) that weapons of self-defence are available for all citizens under license unless their antecedents or propensities do not entitle them for the privilige;and

(iii)that firearms required for training purposes and ordinary civilians are made more easily available on permits;...."

Now analyse what this means.

I. "that weapons of self-defence are available for all citizens under license " This clearly means that any citizen of the country has the right ( this is a legal right granted by an Act of the Parliament) to obtain a license and there after to accquire a firearm,he is entitled to hold (as per the license issued to him)

II.(iii) clearly indicates that one of the objectives of the Bill when it becomes and Act,to enable ordinary citizens to more easily accquire a permit for ordinary(read self-defence) use and for training(read sport).


All of this also visualizes the cheap and ready availability of firearms for citizens who hold a license/permit to hold them.

The entire exercise would be defeated if the firearms are so expensive that an ordinary citizen can not own them or they are not readily available once a person gets a license to hold one,or are not reliable or if ammo is not available. All of these situations exist in India as a direct and indirect result of the ban on the import of firearms and also because of the manner in which the IOFB treats the civilian market.If you apply for a IOF revolver, you have to wait for atleast a couple of months.What happens in the intermediate period?

Therefore anything done while invoking the provisions of the Arms Act has to be done keeping in view the objectives for the realisation of which the Act was passed in the first place.

The Act was passed to enable a law abiding citizen of the country to accquire a firearm for his use for a legitimate purpose and thus remove an injustice that was done by the Arms Act of 1878.While the old Arms Act was passed with the objective of denying Indians firearms and restricting their ownership to only those sections of the Indian society that were considered loyal to them to avoid a repeat of the 1857 armed uprising,the new Act was meant to enable the Indian citizens to accquire firearms and at the same time,to deny them to antisocial elements.The Bill was infact examined by a Joint Committe of bot the the Houses of the Parliament( 30 from the Lok Sabha and 15 from the Rajya Sabha).The 'Statement of Objects and Reasons' states "...The rigours of the Arms Act and rules there under make it difficult for law abiding citizens to possess firearms for self defence whereas terrorists,dacoit gangs and other anti-social or anti-national elements are using not only civilian weapons but also bombs,hand -grenades,Bren guns,303 service rifles and revolvers of a military type, for perpetrating heinous crimes against society and the state."

Sukhpreet
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby TC » Tue Dec 19, 2006 3:30 am

Sukhpreet, Sujay. Abhijeet, I really appreciate the sincerety with which you have tried to delve into the details of a confusing Act and its interpretations. Kudos.

Over the years I have felt that the original Act, its sub-sections and the special notifications introduced by the Congress regimes after 1984 have only given more and more power to the bureaucracy to interprete laws to their convenience.

For example there is this rule that says shooters who have secured the top 20 positions in nationals can be permitted to import weapons.
Has anybody asked how a young shooter, no matter how good, hope to reach the top 20 with old second hand weapons ?
Or what if a shooter's rank comes down to 19 after a national?
Does that mean that he/she cant import a weapon anymore and try to move up?

On one hand there is no restriction of issuing of licences and sale of weapons to Indian citizens - if the records are straight and the right palms are greased i.e. But if the government gives me permission to arms myself with a ".32 bore pistol" for "self-defence" and carry the weapon throughout the "Union of India" then how can it stop me from buying the weapon from a place of my choice?
One can import a private jet for personal use.
One can import a merc or jaguar for personal use.
Going by the books, one can import anything (after paying tax) unless it is not an equipment used by the defence forces or not the national treasure of another country.
Then why cant one import a 200 dollar pistol?
Is there a ban on using or owning foreign pistols - NO
Is there a stipulation on using ONLY IOF weapons - NO
Then why?

Lets look at it the oher way. Who benefits the most if ban on import continues forever ?

Is it the IOF ? Partially yes. Because their sales continue to soar.
But those who can AFFORD, have the TASTE or simply the right CONNECTION, will always go for imported weapons, no matter how old.

Is it the gun dealer ? Yes, Yes, Yes - Because with the ban on they will continue to mint money ---A WHOLE LOT OF UNACCOUNTED BLACK MONEY.
On paper they will buy a Series B Webley .32 for Rs 10 or 12 K. Pay the seller 1.20 lakh and sell it on paper for 14 or 16 k and charge the buyer Rs 1.80 lakh.
Then they will pay a paltry sum to a poor widow to acquire engraved double rifle lying in custody under Section 21 (1) of the Arms Act for 20 years. And then sell it to a gullible buyer for a ransom...or to an agent of Westley Richards then the company comes shopping to India.

There cannot be a better business...

(Lets not talk about the several hundred crores of local sales tax and now VAT the government has lost because of this trade.. who's bothered anyway ?)

Come to think about it, if I represented a pressure group of influential gun leaders i would move the right quarters to ensure that the ban was always there.

So long

TC
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Postby mundaire » Tue Dec 19, 2006 3:40 am

Good points TC :) You missed out on one MAJOR beneficiary of this import restriction - and that is the criminal element! Guns on the black market are much cheaper than legal guns, a couple of years back someone in Delhi had used a Chinese made "Star" pistol to commit suicide and the police chappie was quoted as saying that these guns usually retail for around 25k in the black market! :shock:

Compare that to the kind of price you would pay for say an IOF revolver/ pistol (forget about the prices of imported handguns) and you begin to see how our government is actually helping criminals and penalising law abiding citizens! :evil:

Cheers!
Abhijeet
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby penpusher » Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:44 am

The reason why I and I am very sure most of the members of this forum want the ban on the import of firearms to go is because:_

1.Indian manufacturers of firearms,including the IOFB has not been able to manufacture firearms of a good quality.They are unreliable and totally unsuitable for use in any shooting sport. 20 years of having a free run in a captive market with high profit margins has not convinced them to upgrade their products and nor are thay likely to do so if the present situation continues.

2.The guns and ammo. that is available in the country is not only of a poor quality but also highly overpriced.

Removal of import restrictions on import of arms and ammo would encourage the manufacturers of firearms in the country to improve their quality and reduce the price.

Sukhpreet
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby TC » Tue Dec 19, 2006 1:02 pm

Abhijeet, Sukhpreet, when was there ever any problem in smuggling weapons across the border ?

Didnt the freedom fighters smuggle weapons from Germany and other Axis countries during WWI and WWII to fight the British ?
Bhagat Singh, Jitendranath Mukherjee, Rajguru - they all looted government treasury to buy weapons from smugglers.
In Bengal the revolutionaries looted a whole consignment of 30 Mauser Broomhandle pistols from R B Roda and Co at Dalhousie Square.
And please note, import was legal those days...Yes some stole weapons from their own house and joined the struggle. But most people depended on smuggled arsenal.

Things didnt change after Independence. Revolutionaries were replaced by freedom fighters of a different kind and terrorists in general.
Could any of the governments stop smuggling of arms. Although there was no ban on import till 1984 there was no dirth of smuggled weapons in the hands of those who wanted them.

Think about now ---
Can anyone in the forum tell me how many terrorist attacks and mafia killings have been executed with legally imported NP bore weapons ?
.32 or .22 bore pistols or 12 bore guns?

Is the so -called war in Kashmir being faught with legally imported AK 47s ?


THERE IS NO CORELATION BETWEEN BAN ON IMPORT AND FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM...

THERE IS NO LINK....

BOTTOMLINE IS, THIS IS ALL PART OF A BLOODY FACADE TO KEEP THE IOF GOING AND KEEP ARMS DEALERS HAPPY

Said from the point of view of a journalist, from my experience.

So long gentlemen,

TC

PS : I wish more forum members had shared their thoughts on this subject. I think this is the singlemost important hindrance to building up a shooting fraternity and well defined gun laws in India.
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Re: Import of arms and ammunition

Postby penpusher » Tue Dec 19, 2006 2:41 pm

TC

I wish more forum members had shared their thoughts on this subject


Even I am surprised by the lack of response on this.Besides the Arms dealers, there is another group that does not seemt to be very enthusiastic about the removal of restriction on the import of firearms and ammo.

Though I am very sure the one's I have met do not represent the views of all,but all of the one's I have interacted with,without exception are vehement in denying that the import restriction has hindered the shooting sport in the country.I am talking about the priviliged few who have reached a position in the shooting sport that entitles them to import arms and ammo.I am aware of one of them who had to really sruggle to get a shotgun and now when he has been able to import one along with ammo. declares that nothing needs to be changed.

Maybe they are afraid of things changing and more competition coming up in a sport that is expensive to pursue.Or maybe they do not want to lose the tidy profit that they make by selling ammo in the open market. Has anybody really tried to figure out how imported 12ga and .22 ammo makes it's way into the shops of Arms Dealers.I have seen bricks of 500rds of .22 ammo with dealers.This when no one can bring in more than 50 cartridges on his license.Only shooters and the NRAI can bring in ammo in bulk.

I own more than a couple of firearms and stand to lose a tidy sum if import of firearms is allowed and the price of firearms goes down. However I would be happy to see such a situation in which a law abiding citizen of the country can bring in firearm's and ammo freely.

Sukhpreet
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