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implementation of new air rifle licensing rule ?

implementation of new air rifle licensing rule ?

PostAuthor: skaushal2 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:52 pm ... 102162.cms

The Union government's rule mandating licensing of air guns and air rifles has failed to find ground in the state. Police have not received any application for licensing the firearm since the government notification was issued in July 2016.The farming community and budding sportsmen, who commonly use air guns, are a disappointed lot. Even the manufacturers, who spoke to TOI, said the rule was uncalled for and was not a part of the draft rules that were discussed with the stakeholders.The Union government issued a notification in July 2016 stating a licence would be required for all air weapons, including air rifles, air guns and paintball markers, irrespective of the muzzle energy or calibre or bore.Not just that, a manufacturer of certain air weapons including air rifles and air guns having muzzleenergy exceeding 20 joules or 15foot-pound (ftlbs) or bore exceeding 0.177 or 4.5 mm will have to maintain record with ID proof of the buyer.Vishnu Munde, a 40-year-old farmer from Beed district, said the decision to ban .22 air rifle has come as a serious jolt to the farming community. "Farmers use the air gun to protect the crop from animals, including wild boar, blue bulls. The odd part is that the government has put the air gun that has hitting range of just 10 metres under the Arms Act," he said.Farmers said the licencing norms may force many farmers to turn to traditional ways to handling animals damaging crop. The traditional methods include using live electricity wires wrapped with meat or lacing meat with poison and leaving it in the open field. Farmers believe that these traditional methods end up costing human lives, as farm labourers and children, unaware of the locations of these live wires and poisonous traps, comein touch with them and suffer fatal injuries.Ajitsinh Shinde, a leading arms dealer from Aurangabad, said farmers are not that affluent to afford a licenced firearm. "They opt for .22 air rifle as its Indian make costs between Rs 1,500 and Rs 10,000. Moreover, there is an additional fee to get the licence," he said.MGM Shooting Academy's coach Sangram Deshmukh said there is not much awareness about the rule. "There are budding sportspersons too who use .22 air rifle and .177 rifle for practice as there is hardly any difference between the two. Withthe introduction of latest rules, those possessing .22 will either have to get a firearm licenced or deposit it with authorities," he said.Cops still cluelessOwners of the air weapons were expected to register for the licences, but there has been no response so far. Aurangabad police commissioner Amitesh Kumar told TOI, "There have been no applications as yet for.22 air rifle licences. But we are checking if there are any unauthorised weapon holders in Aurangabad."The situation is not different in other parts of the state. Deputy commissioner of police (Headquarters II) Sheshrao Suryavanshi said, "We have not received applications for seekinglicence for .22 air rifle after the central government notification. Earlier, licence was not required for possessing the rifle. Now since the central government has issued a notification for procuring licence, we are awaiting instructions from the state government in this regard."Nashik police officials also echoes that they had not received any applications for such licences so far. DCP Vijay Patil (HQ) said "We have no information about licence for air guns."Kolhapur district administration officials said there are around 9,000 licenced firearms registered with them, but information about air guns was not available. Bharatkumar Rane,deputy superintendent of police, Kolhapur city said, "The drive of getting information from the licence holder is being launched by revenue department at the level of sub-divisional magistrateand local police station in-charges are helping them. As final authority to issue licence is with district administration, they are uploading of information. Weare only assisting them."Manufacturers hitTill the issuance of the notification, Kolkata was the biggest manufacturer of .22 air rifles in the country. Kolkata-based Eagle Sports proprietor Abhijit Bhunja said their industry has been severely hit due to the decision. "Innumerable people have been left unemployed and industries have started pulling down their shutters," he said.Maharashtra has one air gun manufacturer unit that is considered a leading manufacturer in the country. But the decision has forced the Thane-based unit to stop the manufacturing of .22 air rifles. Precihole Sports Pvt Ltds director Y P Shirsath told TOI,"There are several crore air guns across the country and the decision has made all the possessors, criminals. We have stopped manufacturing .22 air rifles since July 2016, when the rule was passed by the Centre. The most unfortunate part is thatnone of the stakeholders, including manufacturers, budding shooters and farmers, were taken into consideration. The draft of the rules did not have this clause and it was added at the last minute."The manufacturers blamed the government for the abrupt decision. Harwinder Singh, proprietor of Royal Gun House inJabalpur, minced no words in blaming the BJP for the decision. "There are allegations that people have altered the hitting capacity of the air guns and turned them into rifles for hunting. Even if this is true, the government should punish such people and not crores of farmersacross the country," he said.Even the pellet manufacturers are severely affected. Aroon Khanna, director of Marvellous Products in Moradabad (UP), said there has been drastic fall inthe demand for 0.22 pellets. If the government does not changethe decision soon, they will be forced to close down production.Khanna, who is one of the largest suppliers of pellets to central and southern India, said he and some other manufacturers are planning to switch businesses.Arms dealers said they continue to sell the air weapons as earlier in the absence of any written communication from the government. Ranjit Singh, owner of National Arms and Ammunitions in Aurangabad said, "There is no written communication from the government informing us that the sale of .22 air guns should be limited to license holders only. We are still selling air guns."LEGAL TANGLEHigh court lawyer Abhaysinh Bhosale at Aurangabad said the ministry does not seem to have applied any reason or logic whiledrafting these rules. "The decision contradicts basic fabricof the Arms Act as it wiped awaylegal right to carrying non-explosive arm ammunition.Though the air guns would require firearm license, they cannot be covered under the provisions of Arms Act more particularly under sections 3, 4, 5and 25, as the air guns are loaded with pellets and not any bullet or ballistic material.Explaining the technicalities, famous hobby gunsmith Dr SaadNaqshbandi said the 0.22 air riflewas brought under the licenced category by considering the diameter of the bore, as it is believed to have hitting power of over 20 joules. "Unfortunately, there is no mechanism in place to check if the air gun has more than 20 joules of hitting power. Itwill not serve the purpose by bringing the air gun under the licenced category just because of its diameter or calibre of its bore," he said.(With inputs from Santosh Sonawane in Nashik, Vivek Waghmode in Kolhapur and Asseem Shaikh in Pune)
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