Under the present rules if the authority does not issue an order within 45 days the licensee can go ahead and sell the weapon.

The number of people licensed to possess Non Prohibited Bore Weapons (NPB) in the district under the Arms Act 1959 has dropped by nearly 60 per cent in Ernakulam district owing to a variety of factors ranging from death of licensees to police objections to renewal of licences under stringent guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry.

The number of licensees has fallen from 5,300 to 2,325 over the years. At present, 775 applications for renewal of licences are pending with the District Collector, the licensing authority. Another 189 applicants await fresh licenses.

Licensees are also approaching the licensing authority seeking permission to dispose of their weapons to other licensees or arms dealers, on which their licences stand cancelled. Three such applications for sale of weapons are pending before the licensing authority.

Under the present rules if the authority does not issue an order within 45 days the licensee can go ahead and sell the weapon.

A licensee can own up to three weapons for three different purposes under a single license valid for a period of three years or less. About 100 licensees in the district own more than one weapon. However the licensing authority and police are no longer encouraging possession of multiple weapons.

Licences are issued in two different forms for four purposes. Licences issued in Form 3 are for self protection, sports, and display. Till the Union Home Ministry made ‘grave and imminent threat to life’ a pre-condition for getting a gun licence for self protection, a police report was enough to get the applicant a license for the purpose.

To be eligible for license for sports purposes, the applicant should have membership in a rifle club or association. Gun for display should be suitably altered by the dealer ensuring that it could not be fired and the applicant for licence under this category should produce a certificate to that effect from the dealer.

Seasonal validity

Licences for guns issued in Form 5 are meant for crop protection and the validity is seasonal. There are 1,200-odd such licensees in the district. They are supposed to surrender the weapon at the respective police station after the crop season, a norm that is often breached. Very limited applications seeking licence for crop protection come in these days, sources said.

Besides, a licensee who shifts jurisdictions (from one district licensing authority to another) is supposed to re-register with the new authority if their stay exceeds 30 days. It is mostly applicable to the ex-servicemen who possess license and return home on retirement. Ex-servicemen account for about 200 gun licences in the district.

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