11 July 2024

Two years after the coup, the military-led administration in Myanmar passed a law allowing firearms civilians to carry firearms from January 31st, 2023.

The accompanying written mandate related to the bill states that, due to current circumstances, the state has deemed necessary to add to laws, passed 1977, regarding the licensed carrying of and the granting permits for various kinds of weapons to be loaned from the state.

Types of firearms allowed

According to the new rules, citizens can be licensed to carry .38 and lower calibre revolvers, .38 or 9mm semi-automatics, 12 bore and smaller shotguns, .22 and smaller hunting rifles and air rifles. 

No form of fully automatic weapon is allowed.

Firearms allowed carried by a civilians must be registered with the respective township’s police station. Individuals seeking to carry a gun must also be able to provide any documents for which the Ministry of Defence asks.

The announcement also said that other firearms, such as higher calibre rifles and even submachine guns, will be considered for groups such as each region’s People’s Militia and others responsible for maintaining the rule of law, peace and security in designated areas.

Individuals looking to own such firearms are to submit a proposal to the internal affairs ministry and to seek permission from there.

Those who are deemed qualified to own firearms will be able to carry up to 3 weapons, all with prior approval by the authorities. Civil servants will be allowed to carry an additional gun, which will be handed to them via a permit. 

Military retirees can also apply to switch to a civilian gun ownership license to continue the possession of the firearm issued to them while in service. 

While many of the rules and regulations necessary for such a drastic change, as the is some lack of clear detail, such as the time needed to process the permits, the cost of applying or even the documents required. 

For now, a person seeking to own a firearm must first get approval from the local police station. 

The announcement also said that those permitted to own guns must also participate, if directed by authorities, in activities to safeguard security and the rule of law.

Where to buy

Currently, it is strictly forbidden for any Myanmar national to purchase guns and ammunition from abroad. Special permission will, however, be given to import such items on a “case by case” basis. 

According to General Zaw Min Tun, in an interview with the BBC, the gun law was passed due to overwhelming demand by the public to be able to carry guns to protect themselves and that, in the future, there will be groups, such as security firms, which will be legally able to import arms for the public to purchase

What’s next?

For now, the public remains extremely sceptical of the notion of a basic freedom to bear arms, in which the military government apparently believes, and that murders, robberies, theft and other lawlessness will be dealt once the public has access to guns.

“It’s just a trick they are pulling, to legally arm their own people in the civilian sector,” said a Facebook comment.

“Whether or not they can properly regulate it, which they won’t, there will definitely be more violence and bloodshed now,read another comment. 

Overall, general consensus among the public seems to be that,no matter how strict the regulations will be, introducing guns into Myanmar’s civilian market will only mean an increase in gun related crime.