The Arms Act, 1878, enacted during the British rule, was intended to disarm the entire nation. Surprisingly, even after 42 years of independence, the law considers swords, daggers, spear, bows and arrows as arms. The rigors of the Arms Act, 1878 and the concerned rules continue to make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to possess firearms for self-defence, whereas terrorists, dacoits, robbers, criminal gangs and other anti-social or anti-national elements are not only using civilian weapons but also possess bombs, hand grenades, sten guns and commit heinous crimes against the society and the state.
Arms and ammunition
According to the law, arms include firearms, bayonets, swords, daggers, spears and machinery for manufacturing arms, and ammunition refers to any explosive material that is gunflint, gun-words, percussion-caps, all parts of ammunition and all machinery for manufacturing ammunition, but does not include lead and sulphur.
Unlicensed manufacture, conversion and sale of firearms prohibited
The law prohibits manufacture, convertion, sale or possesion of any arms and ammunition without licence. If any person sells or buys any arms or ammunition, he must inform the district magistrate or the officer in charge of the nearest police station about the sale and the buyer’s name and address. However, a sale of arms and ammunition by agent of a licence-holder is not illegal.
Unlicensed importation and exportation prohibited
No person shall bring or take any arms, ammunition or military stores into or out of Bangladesh except under a licence and in the manner and to the extent permitted by such licence. However, the government may regulate the transportation of arms or ammunition over the whole of Bangladesh through notification in official gazette.
Unlicensed possession of firearms prohibited
No person shall possess any firearms or ammunition, except under a licence and in the manner and to the extent permitted by such licence.
Going armed without licence is prohibited
According to this act, no person shall go armed without licence. If any person goes armed without licence, he may be disarmed by any magistrate or police officer. When a person is found going about with a pistol, gun, or sword, it will be presumed that he carried it with the intention of using it.
Arrest of persons carrying guns
According to the law, if any person is found carrying any arms, ammunition, whether covered by a licence or not, under suspicious circumstances that the arms can be used for any unlawful purpose, any person may without warrant arrest him and take such arms from him.
How to get a gun licence in Bangladesh
A person can apply to the concerned deputy commissioner for getting an arms licence or renewal of any gun licence he/she already has. For getting a gun licence a person has to fulfill the following requirements:
l Aged 25 years or more
l Police verification report
l A filled in gun licence form
l Payment of required fees
l Submission of necessary documents eg annual income, income tax return, notarised declaration with regard to present arms status of the applicant
Restriction on movement with arms and cancellation of licence
The government may impose restriction on movement with arms of any person due to public interest. Any licence may be cancelled by the officer by whom the licence was granted, or a magistrate, or a judge for security of public peace.