Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Saudi Ministry of Interior has doubled the duration of licenses to own or carry a weapon to ten years [for individuals] and to five years for marksmanship clubs and stores that sell weapons under a new bill for arms and ammunition.
The bill which was approved recently by the Interior Minister, Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz, has specified that the age for practicing shooting at clubs would be set at 18 and a license to own and carry a weapon would be granted at the age of 21.
The bill that clarified the articles of the 63rd act that was published over two years ago after the approval of the Saudi cabinet in August 2005, stipulated a bank guarantee of 500,000 Saudi Riyals (SR), (US $133,000) for those wishing to trade in weapons and permitted licensing stores that sell arms.
The bill is to permit the use of military, personal, and government weapons and ammunition according to the directives. The bill also includes allowing the possibility of obtaining a license to repair personal firearms and air rifles from the Ministry of Interior.
Asharq Al Awsat obtained the details of the bill that looks at the conditions for acquiring a permit to repair personal firearms, hunting weapons, and rifles; in addition to permits for personal purchases of arms and possession and penalties.
The bill explained all conditions and the registration process for marksmanship clubs, which includes the applicant body, club specifications, and the essence of controlling the clubs including the conditions for accepting members. The bill has limited the right to establishing marksmanship clubs to Saudi citizens over 25 years of age, providing the applicant is without prior security or criminal convictions and has no record of mental illness. The bill prohibits clubs from practice until after attaining membership of the Arab Saudi Marksmanship Federation.
Regarding the conditions and specifications of clubs, the bill stipulates that these centers are situated far from any significant buildings, residential areas, schools, hospitals, social probation centers, public markets and petrol stations. The bill imposed the construction of two stockrooms inside each club, solidly built according to the technical specifications of weapons and ammunitions warehouses, with electric gates for metal detection at the entrance and the installation of surveillance systems.
The bill also permitted the practicing of marksmanship for boys aged 12 years and above as long as a guardian is present and allowed clubs that hold training courses for those working in armed security institutions and companies only under the supervision of public security, with the club being responsible for providing specialized trainers and assistant trainers in shooting competitions approved by the international federation and according to the conditions of the Arab Saudi Marksmanship Federation.
The bill has specified the conditions for applicants wishing to obtain a license for carrying or owning personal arms and hunting weapons to be of no younger than 21 years of age, with no criminal record, in addition to being of sound mental and physical health. The licenses expire five years from the date of issuance for all types of permits such as to import, sell, or repair personal arms, air rifles, vintage rifles and permits for shooting and hunting clubs, the armed private security institutions and companies. These licenses can be renewed for the same period. Licenses to carry or possess personal weapons are valid for 10 years providing it is renewed three months prior to the expiry date.
Regarding the commercial activity of the arms trade, the bill has outlined conditions for those applying for permits to import personal firearms, air rifles, and hunting weapons to be at least 25 years of age with a valid commercial registration and a bank guarantee of SR500,000 (US $133,000). The applicant is granted a period of six months to acquire a certificate from the authorities of public security and civil defense to confirm the existence of a showroom and two warehouses that comply with the conditions and standards of safety and security for the issuance of a ministerial approval for a five-year license that is renewable.
In reference to the eighth article, the bill specifies places and times during which the carrying of a registered firearm is prohibited; such as within the vicinity of the two holy mosques and other mosques, near military grounds and oil bases and areas that clearly state that they should not be approached. In addition, government offices, airports, schools, public gatherings, or private and public celebrations are also not to be approached whilst carrying a registered weapon. The bill approved a penalty of SR1000 (US $226) for those who fail to comply with the regulations.
The bill outlined the conditions for obtaining a permit to repair personal weapons and air rifles, according to the eleventh clause of section nine, “to be a Saudi citizen who meets the conditions to be granted a license for weapons”. The local police and civil defense departments conduct random inspections on establishments to monitor the level of compliance to the set conditions, and to submit the results of the inspection to the governor of the province.
The bill referred to severe penalties for violators of the act, with a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment and penalties of no more than SR 300,000 (US $80,000) in the event of being convicted of smuggling or using military or personal weapons, parts of weapons, selling or buying weapons or ammunition in order to breach internal security.
The bill also refers to the imprisonment of all those who have been proven to have purchased or sold a personal weapon or ammunition without a permit for a period of no longer than two years and/or a fine of no more than SR 7000 (US $1866). In addition, it stipulates the penalty of eight months imprisonment and a fine of SR 6000 (US $1500) for those who have been proved to have carried a personal weapon or ammunition without a license.
Regarding penalties for institutions and companies or any other establishment that has violated any of the set regulations; these will be subject to all penalties prescribed in the act except for imprisonment.
Section 42 of the act has set a period of six months imprisonment and the payment of SR 3000 (US $800) for those proven to have withheld information from the authorities about the trading of illegal arms or smuggling.
The bill has set conditions for employing non-Saudis that is permissible only after obtaining a permit, repairing weapons only after taking part in a training course through the public security authority or the gaining of an approved educational certificate from the responsible authority (public security), not repairing any unregistered weapons, in addition to not modifying any weapon or ammunition to make it more dangerous.