Former military generals and top officials with the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) made up the vast majority of those applying to carry licenced firearms, police sources told DVB on the condition of anonymity. The military junta’s new gun ownership policy circulated online on Jan. 31 allowing those “loyal to the nation” the ability to own licensed firearms. On Feb. 12, junta spokesperson, Zaw Min Tun, confirmed to BBC Burmese that the new policy was in response to “public demands.”
The 15-page document produced by the junta is broadly intended to safeguard its loyalists against the anti-coup opposition. “The retired top army officer already has licensed weapons. The junta issued the new policy just because it wanted to provide others with guns,” a police source told DVB. Top junta officials met last December to discuss and approve a new gun ownership policy. The document that circulated on pro-military Facebook pages and Telegram channels was issued on Jan. 31 and attributed to the Home Affairs Ministry.
Following the 2021 military coup, pro-regime militia groups were set up, trained and armed to fight the anti-coup resistance forces in Burma. Under the new gun ownership policy, those who apply to own firearms must be at least 18 years of age. The applicants are classified into three groups: civilians, civil servants, and military personnel. The different types of guns that applicants can receive licenses to carry include 38-caliber, 9-mm pistol, shotgun, air gun, rifle or submachine gun, and guns larger than 9-mm. Licenses are valid for one year.
“In [Yangon’s industrial suburban township] Hlaing Thayar, even on the main road, a murderer can walk fearlessly after he has stabbed [someone] to death. When such murderers have access to firearms in the future, there will be a surge in crimes such as robberies and killings. I can’t imagine,” a Hlaing Thayar resident said.