The number of applications too has fallen substantially from a high of about 25 applications a year to an average of 10 over the last few years.

The district is likely to have fewer gun-owners than in the past thanks to the Union Home Ministry setting more stringent conditions for the issue of licences for Non Prohibited Bore (NPB) weapons.

The number of licenses issued by the District Collector, the licensing authority under the Arms Act 1959, has gone down sharply following the circular. The number of applications too has fallen substantially from a high of about 25 applications a year to an average of 10 over the last few years.

In fact, the Collector has issued only 10 gun licences since the circular dated March 31, 2010 was issued.

Sources told The Hindu that under the stringent parameters in the circular it would be almost impossible to issue NPB licenses in the State. The circular states that the licensing authority may consider applications of only those who “face or perceive grave and imminent threat to their lives” and is based on an assessment of the threat by the police within 45 days.

The directions in the circular have no legal standing as they have not been incorporated in the Arms Act through suitable amendments and have thrown open the doors for legal wrangling over rejection of applications for license.

Three applicants have already approached the court over the rejection of their applications while about 25 such cases have been reported across the State so far.

Prior to the circular anyone who had attained the age of 21 years could get a license on a No Objection Certificates issued by the police attesting to the applicant’s credentials; tahsildar vouching for the residency and the Divisional Forest Officer certifying that the applicant was clean on forest-related offences.

Besides, the licensing authority has been circumspect after an incident in which a self-styled Godman Himaval Mahaeswara Bhadrananda created a furore by flashing a gun at a police station in Aluva in 2008. The Collector cancelled his gun licence following the incident.

Ex-servicemen, who used to apply for gun licenses for improving their job opportunities, have also been dealt a blow on account of another circular issued by the Home Ministry on June 1, 2011. The circular stated that the Ministry did not favour grant of gun licenses to individuals as an extra qualification for finding jobs.

“Ex-servicemen should be encouraged to seek job on the basis of their experience and records of service, not on the basis of whether they possess arms licenses or not,” the circular said.

More In: Kochi