The recent incident of a 15 year old shooting his 36-year old father to death has raised the question whether we really need guns in a relatively peaceful country.
Guns should be banned – the sooner the better. That’s’ what many people along with some members of parliament feel.
Today there are thousands of guns floating in the country, for some it is just for fashion to have one at home, while for some it is to just match their status and for some just to show off.
MP Ugyen Wangdi from the Dremitse-Ngatshang constituency under Mongar said that guns are not required in our society not because of the recent incidences but because Bhutan is a peaceful country.
“I do not support having a gun and if the law on the possession of arms is lenient then there should be a revisit to the act and I will support it. There should be ban on the import in the future,” he said.
While MP Ugyen Dorji, from the constituency of Dewathang-Gomdar under Samdrup Jongkhar said “the need for a gun to an individual depends on a level of a security threat that an individual faces in life. If your safety is not threatened, so there is no point owning a weapon, which is bound to cause some kind of an accident. There should be limit in owning of guns. Objective is lost if you start owning more than a gun”.
“A gun should not be owned as an ornament. We may have to revisit the act if there are lapses in the rules and regulation of the act. If the concerned agencies feel the need for changes, we have to look into the matter,” the MP said.
The media focal person for RBP, Colonel Thinley Drukla said that the procedure to acquire an import license has been made very stringent as compared to the past and depending on the very need of the arms after authenticating the case, we issue the concerned person an import license provided that he/she provides a air ticket that he/she is going to the said place to purchase the arms.
“Basically, the person has to have a NOC from the police and a medical certificate,” said colonel Thinley.
RBP took over issuing arms import license from Royal Bhutan Army in 2006.
Between 2011 and this year till date, eight people were granted import license for the arms however only one had imported gun.
There are still around 4309 fire arms licenses holders in the country who have not renewed their fire arms licenses as of July 2012 despite earlier notice announcement made in March 10, 2009.
Colonel Thinley Drukla said that if these people do not turn up for the renewal of their fire arms licenses by end of this December then they will be chart sheeted to the court as per the law of the country.
Fire Arms and Ammunition Act of Bhutan, 1990 needs a revisit by the member of parliaments.
However he said that every after every two years renewal should be done and a person can now only have just one gun, this was the new rule implemented after RBP had taken over from RBA.
The act does not spell out the numbers of arms an individual can have and it does not mention when a person has to renew the license.
Pistol and revolver .22, .25, .32 calibres, for Shot gun,12 and 16 Bore and for Muzzle loading Arms and Rifles 22 Rifles are the types of arms an individual can import as per the Fire Arms and Ammunition Act of Bhutan, 1990.
A person below the age of 21 will not be allowed to import any kind of above mentioned arms, the act states.
“It is time to do a background check on all the people who have guns; we certainly can’t afford to have another tragedy like this one repeating itself. People who are known alcoholics or drug abusers must be relieved of their guns as soon as possible, they are the ones that can’t be trusted with loaded firearms,” commented a reader on the website of The Bhutanese.
While another comment read: “Are we allowed to possess guns in this so called GNH Society? If so I also would like to own one. Have gun and guts than no guns and be a victim. Gun policy must be there and guns must be out at any cost. We don’t want guns and goons. NO!”
Many people The Bhutanese talked to said that Bhutan has not reached a stage where an individual needs to wield a gun. There should be ban on it before a major incident takes place.
A 40 year old, civil servant said “Unlike other countries, ours is a peaceful country where a need for a gun is not required. If people go on importing guns then there will a day when people will start shooting at each other when ever there is a fight”.
Many people especially rich people have guns at home in the name of safety while surprisingly; even police personnel out patrolling during the night don’t use guns.
One of the Police officer said that till date there has never been an incident where police had used guns to prevent any kind of crimes.
MP Ugyen Wangdi said if it is in the south, then one can consider having arms for protection due to the porous border but otherwise one should do away with the arms.