KATHMANDU, Jan 18: The government has so far issued around 35,000 licenses to individuals for keeping firearms for personal use. But the authorities have neither maintained records of such firearms nor have devised any effective mechanism to monitor their use.
The government issues firearms license to anyone who fulfills certain conditions.
Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs Nabin Kumar Ghimire said, “We do not monitor the use of firearms and the police department has been authorized to check misuse of firearms.”
However, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Keshav Adhikari, who is also the spokesperson for the Nepal Police, said there isn´t any specific body to monitor the use of licensed firearms.
According to Arms and Ammunitions Act-1963, one has to renew firearms license every year but no office in the country knows if individuals possessing such weapons renew their licenses every year.
Moreover, it is surprising that that the government issues firearms license to even those persons who cannot use them. A home ministry official said, ´An individual keeps firearms for personal safety. So, mental and physical fitness should not be the only prerequisite for a license holder. They must also be able to use such firearms.”
Even as the use of illegal firearms has proliferated in recent days, the DAO and the home ministry do not have records of such weapons. The District Administration Office of Kathmandu alone renewed 1,500 licenses till mid-January this year.
“It is not easy to find out if the license-holder has renewed his license because we do not have a nationwide network to maintain records,” said Chief District Officer (CDO) of Kathmandu Chudamani Sharma. One can renew the firearms licenses from DAOs across the country.
According to Surendra Paudel, chief of citizenship and weapons department at the home ministry, said records were lost in many of the districts during the conflict.
“However, we have recently begun collecting data of licensed firearms use across the country,” informed Paudel. According to him, only 12 districts -- Syngja, Kaski, Dadeldhura, Doti, Achham, Kailali, Rukum, Makawanpur, Mustang, Panchthar, Baglung and Arghakhachi have submitted the details of licensed firearms in the district as of mid-January.
According to sources at the home ministry, more than 24 districts have reported loss of records. “If government assures of compensation, owners of such firearms would readily provide details of the firearms in their possession,” an official said.
However the finance ministry said it is not in a position to compensate the owners of firearms due to budget crunch.
The ministry of home affairs has maintained records of 34,438 firearms licenses till 2068 Chaitra. Of them, 312 licenses have been issued for pistols, 117 for revolvers, 13, 917 for 12 bore guns, 6491 for 22 bore guns and 1,010 for air guns. A total of 34,379 were registered in the last fiscal year, but no licenses for new pistols and revolvers have been issued citing security reasons.