Clarity about 0.22″/ 5.5mm Air Rifles and Air Pistols Licensing under Arms Act 1959 and Arms Rules 2016

It has been seven years, since Arms Rules 2016 came into enforcement, but clarity about 0.22″ / 5.5mm Air weapons still eludes public. I marvel at the smartness of our bureaucracy which consists of the cream of the cream who instill fear into learned men and public alike.

Arms Act 1959 came in to enforcement on 23rd December 1959. In Sec 2 (c) of the said Arms Act 1959 definition of Arms is given ” Arms means articles of any description designed or adapted as weapons for offences, or defence, and includes firearms, sharp-edged and other deadly weapons, and parts of, and machinery for manufacturing arms, but does not include articles designed solely for domestic or agricultural uses such as a lathi or an ordinary walking stick and weapons incapable of being used otherwise than as toys or of being converted into serviceable weapons.”

In one para of Section 2 (c) everything remotely related to injuring any human became Arms/Ammunition. Afterwards, on 13th July 1962 Central Govt. came out with Notification No. G.S.R. 991 in which they clearly defined which categories of weapons will not be considered as Arms under Arms Act 1959. Consequently, Air Rifles and Air Pistols that satisfy the test prescribed in Column 1 of Schedule II of the said notification were exempted from the operation of all the provisions of Arms Act 1959.

Then on 1st Oct 1962 Arms Rules 1962 came into operation. In Schedule-I Category III (d) Air-guns became Arms. (It meant that high power Air Weapons that failed the test prescribed in Notification GSR 991 Dt 13.07.1962 are Arms of Category III (d) of Schedule I of Arms Rules 1962)

Now on 15th July 2016, Arms Rules 2016 came into enforcement. In Schedule I Category III (f), Air Weapons were subdivided into two categories III (f) (i) and III (f) (ii) according to their caliber and muzzle energy. Later notification regarding amendment for liberalisation of licensing requirement of Category III (f) (i) also came into force.

On one side Exemption Notification No GSR 991 Dt 13.07.162 was not withdrawn and on the other side it seemed that Arms Rules 2016 overlooked it completely. So, I filed an RTI to know the exact status. Fortunately, I got reply from MHA, (Click Here for Copy) Central Government which  states in its Note that provisions under Arms Rules 2016 regarding Air weapons will not have any consequential effect till the withdrawal of Notification No. GSR 991 Dt 13.07.1962.

The exact answer would be that high power Air weapons that fail the test prescribed in Schedule II Column I of Notification No. GSR 991 Dt 13.07.1962 will be covered under Arms Rules 2016 and further subdivided into two categories III (f) (i) and III (f) (ii) of Schedule I of the said Rules as per their caliber and muzzle energy.

Well this is all confusing, great, this is probably what our bureaucracy wants, common man to remain fearful of them. The policy “Don’t bother them, lie low, you will not be bothered” works fine all the time.

Note: Arms Act 1959 and Notification GSR 991 Dt 13.7.1962, together, is a great piece of work, which insures that any future technology that can be used for offence or defence is automatically termed as Arms, unless the government wants it otherwise. As per my understanding, this exemption notification can be changed but will never be withdrawn.

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