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March 14, 2019

Allowing carrying fire arms by Punjab govt may lead to surge in violence


March 14, 2019

Islamabad: It was a highly disturbing decision taken by the government of the Punjab on March 11, 2019 (Monday) under which it announced lifting of all restrictions imposed earlier and allowing carrying fire arms of all types registered on the computerised arms license.

The notification issued from the office of the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) of the Government of Punjab under the signatures of Section Officer (Judicial-I), Mr Kamran Ashraf, read:

“In pursuance of Rule 69 of the Punjab Arms Rules, 2017, it is hereby notified that individuals having computerized arms licenses are allowed to carry weapons mentioned in the computerized arms licenses in a concealed manner without any brandishing or display of weapon. “Similarly, the retainer mentioned in the computerized arms license can carry the weapon mentioned in the computerized arms license when accompanied by the actual licensee.”

This announcement has made a chill run down one’s spine. Keeping in mind the intolerance, frustration, anger and violence already are boiling in the society, this freedom to carry fire arms, even only the licensed ones, would create serious social problems.

The best thing to do in such societies is to try and keep it arms free on administrative side and keep up a persistent and meaningful social campaign to promote tolerance, peace, care, and harmony amongst all segments of society.

But allowing people to carry arms, no matter the licensed ones, could also trigger a race amongst people or groups to go out and acquire either licensed arms and if they fail, they will be not shy to go for illegal arms, which unfortunately are not so difficult to get.

We have seen numerous incidents occurring with alarming frequency where a person or persons, carrying licensed fire arms, lost their cool over petty issues and resorted to reckless use of sophisticated and lethal weapons, causing deaths and injuries to unarmed people.

We have been hearing quite regularly of incidents where two groups, both having licensed fire arms, clashed over petty issues, again resulting in deaths and injuries. And we have also come across such information where a licensed fire arm has been snatched away by others and used against the owner himself. Again causing deaths and injuries.

So, issuing fire arm licenses, whether computerized or not, and people buying sophisticated and lethal weapons against those is not going to resolve the security concerns that are cited by people to get an arm license. Conflict resolution in society through peaceful and reconciliatory measures is the best solution and not by increasing the presence of fire arms as a preventive to violence.

Senior police officials, on condition of anonymity, have expressed serious concerns over this move by the Punjab Government.

“The bureaucracy keeps powers to issue and regulate arms licenses but if arms are misused by the persons possessing licensed fire arms then the police is held responsible for having failed to maintain the law and order situation.

“If the Punjab Government is keen to allow people to possess and carry licensed weapons and if they are continue to issue more and more licenses for purchasing arms, then they should also bring in legislation to hold the arms license issuing authority as responsible in case a licensed weapons is used to kill or injure somebody and the police,” they said.

They pointed out that before the USSR invasion of Afghanistan, the province of Punjab and Sindh were quite peaceful. However, the Afghan jehad against the then USSR heavily flooded our towns and villages with sophisticated weapons like AK-47 (Kalashnikov).

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