Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged the Centre not to reduce the number of firearms permissible on a licence from three to one in Punjab in view of the sensitive location and troubled history of the state.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the chief minister sought a review of the proposal of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to amend the Arms Act, 1959, thereby restricting the number of firearms, an official statement said.
He has, however, made it clear that if some states are keen on reducing the number of weapons, they may be allowed to do so without prejudice to other states.
In his letter, the chief minister said he had personally raised the issue with the prime minister during the latter's recent visit to Punjab for the opening of the Kartarpur corridor.
The Punjab Government was in agreement with most of the proposed amendments but had strong reservations regarding restricting the number of firearms a licensee could possess, he said.
The chief minister stressed that Punjab being a border state and having gone through a long period of terrorist violence, a large number of people possessed more than one firearm and many farmers who reside away from the villages where their agricultural lands/farms were located also possessed firearms for crop protection.
Therefore, he wrote, it was significant to note that only a small fraction of crime was committed using licensed weapons.
These facts, he said, could be independently ascertained as they were within the domain of the MHA.
Amarinder Singh observed that restricting the number of firearms might not be of much help for the control of crime.
On the contrary, a large number of people would be inconvenienced by way of surrender of additional weapons and the farming community would also be deprived of weapons meant for crop protection, he added.
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