The government is ironically sticking to its guns, and is keeping the ban on arms licenses in place for the foreseeable future in a bid to limit the access to guns for any criminal activities.

For once, Chaudhry Nisar may be on to something. The current government is undeniably doing a better job in limiting the supply of guns compared to its predecessor. In a country that is in a constant state of war, this is a very good thing.

But for two problems; one, those that normally use guns to commit crime or acts of violence, do not usually do this with licensed guns. Criminals have unfettered access to arms in the black market, which are often much easier to obtain than their licensed counterparts. Are any attempts being made to curb these, and ensure that only over-the-counter guns will be sold?

Two, out of the eight licenses that were issued in the current government’s tenure, one went to the PM, while three went to the President’s son. And this is where it gets problematic. The ban cannot have exceptions to the rule, or it’s really not a ban at all, but a means to keep exclusivity in who is allowed to own a weapon.

In any case, banning the issuance of new licenses does not stop the root problem of the guns that have already permeated into society. Everyone already has guns. And the ones that do not, no longer have the option. And that also makes this law unequal. The proposal submitted by the Interior Ministry to lift the ban, and provide it to people who genuinely fear for their lives – doctors, teachers, journalists and the like, those who are under threat – was rejected by the Minister.

Too many decisions are made directly by the Interior Minister, and this is not always necessarily a bad thing. But the problem is that issuing a ban like this and then allowing for special considerations to be made for VIPs only reflects poorly on the government, especially if there are other people that need it more. The PM for instance, wanted to keep a pistol he had been gifted. And while no one begrudges him that, he has an entire retinue of security guards protecting him around the clock. What then, about the individuals that are at threat from terrorists and militants, but cannot arm themselves for their own protection?