Recently, the nation has been shocked by a series of seemingly rampant shootings. The crimes happened in both the peninsula and East Malaysia and have resulted in 22 deaths since May. For a country with strict gun laws, these crimes have occurred with worrying frequency. But what do we really know about Malaysia’s gun laws? Here are the facts:

1) There are two acts that control possession of guns: The Arms Act (1960) and The Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act (1971). The Arms Act states you need a license for everything relating to guns: from manufacturing, import, export, repairs, to actually having it in your hands.

2) A gun license can only be granted by the Chief Police Officer of the State, albeit an exception for the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. Consideration in granting a license include: a good reason for having the firearm, public safety, and public interest.

3) There are some exceptions for those needing a license: licensed arms dealers and repairers, members of the armed forces, vessel armament, auctioneers and authorized shooting gallery operators. However, for most of these exceptions, you must still obtain a written permit to handle a gun.

4) The Firearms Act relates to crimes committed with a gun, such as extortion, robbery, resisting arrest, and house-breaking. The punishment for discharging firearms in committing such crimes is the death penalty. If you are an accomplice, it’s also death.

5) If you exhibit the firearm for any of the scheduled offence (without discharging) then you are liable to be imprisonment for life and with whipping with not less than six strokes. If you have in your possession unlawful firearms, you could face up to fourteen years of prison, plus whipping.

6) If the laws are so strict, then why the sudden surge of gun crimes? There have been several theories (including the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance), but most agree that the black market is to blame.

7) According to MyWatch, there are now black market guns for rent, while gun smuggling occurs across the Thai border. Bernama also reported that there are a few Facebook online shops that are apparently selling guns to ordinary citizens. One group for example was selling an AK-47 for RM12,000 and various revolvers and assault rifles for between RM500 and RM15000 (the account is now closed and police are looking for the operators of the page).

Abdul Qayyum Jumadi is a law student. In his free time he struggles to finish tutorials and prepare for exams. Most other time he just gets lost, writes short stories, and eats. He is a former Poskod.my Writer in Progress. Follow him @qayzr.

Cover photo: Creative Commons.