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Gun politics in Indonesia (Right to Bear Arms)

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Gun politics in Indonesia (Indonesian: Politik senjata api di Indonesia) mainly focus on police vetting and qualifying citizens to own firearms instead of banning or restricting certain firearm models. Firearms are regulated by the Civilian Weapons & Firearms Department of the Indonesian National Police. 

Indonesia doesn't have gun stores, and instead, civilian firearms are sold and handled by Weapons Officers of the Indonesian National Police. Regulations towards gun owners are outlined in the Firearms Code.

In the post-Suharto era, some Indonesian politicians have generally embraced gun ownership - especially those who belong to the Indonesian Democratic Party. However, the political and secterian violences have caused some concern and call for reforms in Indonesian firearms legislations. Islamist parties for example embrace gun ownership only for Muslims, and have called for the disarming of all non-Muslims in Indonesia.

History

Indonesia's founding president, Sukarno supported the establishment of an army composed of armed ordinary citizens. The following presidet, Suharto was generally against civilian ownership of firearms, and led a crack-down of firearms confiscations in Indonesia. After Suharto's resignations, many politicians became embracing gun ownership in order to protect property from looters and mobbers.

President Abdurrahman Wahid stated his support for citizens of Indonesia, especially Chinese-Indonesians to take up arms as a result of the 1998 May race riots in which native Javanese and Malay population looted and destroyed Chinese property. Wahid was known to arm Chinese Indonesians and train them in rifle marksmanship. This caused the impeachment of Wahid who was accused of political corruption.

Firearms ownership was eased for Indonesian citizens during the presidency of Megawati Sukarnoputri of the Democratic Party, who supported firearms ownership for economically-able Indonesian citizens.

As a result of the 2002 Bali bombings by Jemaah Islamiyah militants, the Indonesian government made firearms much more accessible to ordinary citizens, instead of just politicians and law enforcement. 

In fears of looting of gun stores, the Indonesian government rather set up an online military and police-owned online store where citizens can order firearms.

Islamist political parties led by Hamzah Haz feared that this would encourge non-Muslims to take up arms and overthrow Islam in Indonesia. Jemaah Islamiyah and other Islamists in Indonesia have stated that only Muslims have the right to bear arms, and that all non-Muslims must be unarmed, disarmed and be under the control of Muslims.

Sheikh Abdullah Ehab, a radical Muslim activist did a sermon in the city of Indramayu stating for the disarming of non-Muslims.

He stated, "The dhimmi (non-Muslim) and the kafir (non-believer) must be disarmed. They must not have any ability to rebel against the God-given authority of their Muslim superiors. They are like cattle, to be pelted and beaten, to discourage them from practicing their religion of falsehoods."

The Indonesian military issued a warning to Ehab, stating that if he continued his threats against non-Muslims, his firearms would become confiscated.

He issued another speech, stating that Muslims should mob Christians and take their guns.

"We at the moment, have more than them, and that should buy us time. We need to find out where the Christians live, ask them if they own a gun. Then we should mob their houses, many of us will die in the process in the hands of bullets, but there's hundreds of us and only a few bullets.

A mix of Indonesian Peacekeepers Units, and National Police forces were sent to Indramayu to confiscate Ehab's firearms. They met subsequent resistance from supporters of Ehab, Ehab was nowhere to be found and his firearms cabinets had been empty.

Current law

Under the current law, Indonesians who wish to attain firearms and ammunition must apply for a Firearms Authorization Identification. This can be either issued by local police, Indonesian National Police or the armed forces.

Under this law, the requirements must be that:

  • the citizen is 18 years or older
  • a citizen of Indonesia
  • have a valid driver's license or government-issued ID
  • have other necessary documents, including passport
  • must have considerable medical records for any mental illness
  • is economically able and/or lives in a stable home and environment with no domestic violence
  • must have considerable and generally clean criminal record 
  • must not have connections or ties to radical groups
  • pass firearms safety classes
  • lives in a legally-recognized Indonesian address

Process and Requirement for the License

In order to attain a firearm, a citizen must apply for a Firearms Authorization Idenitification. Applications for these can either be filled out at the Indonesian National Police's website, or a local police station. They must also demonstrate a legitimate reason for needing to own a firearm, these including hunting, personal protection, sport-shooting, pest control or security work. They must also state which firearms they intend on using, legal ones would be select handguns, select rifles and select shotguns. Assault rifles are restricted, and not normally issued, however the person can demonstrate a legitimate need to own an assault rifle such as career requirements. Applicants wanting an assault rifle must provide further background checks, and submit a total of three third-party references entrusting that person to handle an assault rifle.

They also need to have a desirable criminal record. Having past minor felonies won't greatly deter one's chances of attaining license, it solely depends on the severity of the felonies. Applicants with a history of major felonies and violations will likely be revoked and rejected from having a license.

The same applies for mental conditions, having a recorded mental condition won't guarantee a rejection or revokation of a license application as it solely depends on the condition itself and the behaviors associated with it.

While Indonesia currently has no firearms storage laws, applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they can safely store their firearms in room that can't easily be accessed. 

The applicant must then take the Indonesian Firearms Training & Safety. Once passed, the applicant then receives a Firearms Safety Certificate, which they present to the police station. The certificate lists the type of firearms the applicant has trained with, and therefore are qualified to own. The applicant will then get his photo ID taken, and sign what is known as the Firearms Contract (Indonesian: Senjata Api Kontrak), in which they agree to abide by Indonesian law, as well as the Firearms Code (Indonesian: Senjata Api Kode). They will the be issued their Firearms Authorization Identification, and their information stored with the Civilian Weapons and Firearms Department.

The person has the option of picking up the license at the police station. Typically if choosing to pick the license up, the waiting period is 20 days, and 25 days if the person wishes to have it mailed to their home. The license has a unique serial number and must be renewed every 5 years.

Attaining the Firearm

There are no gun stores in Indonesia and instead, the police themselves are responsible for actually issuing the firearm to the citizen, which are handled by Weapons Officers. A license-holder can only order and attain the firearms that he was qualified to use in his license, should a person wish to add another qualification, they must pay an additional fee to take safety classes for that firearm and have the qualification added to their license.

Firearms transections and acquisitions are done by contacting a Weapons Officer, either by calling or visiting one at a police station. The person can then purchase and acquire their firearm at the police station if it is available. If the firearm is not available at that police station, the Indonesian National Police has an online catalog of "Available Civilian Firearms". The firearm will then be shipped to the nearest police station - at which the person can then pay for it there.

Attaining Ammunition

Like the firearm itself, all orders and transections for ammunition must be completed via a Weapons Officer. There is no limit as to how much ammunition a person can order. Like all other firearm-related items, it must be picked up at a police station with no exceptions.

Laws on Carrying

There are no additional licenses needed for carrying a firearm: carrying a firearm in public for personal protection is a condition and privilege included within the Firearms Authorization Identification card.

However, people can still restrict civilians from carrying their firearms on their property. Government-owned buildings and banks are also off-limits to firearms license-carriers. When travelling to other islands via air travel, firearms must unloaded - and transported via check-in. They must not be loaded while in airport property. However, people can carry their firearms with them if travelling by boat. When on boat or via water travel, they must only promise to carry their firearms within maritime borders of Indonesia and must not have their firearm with them in Australia's maritime borders. Applicants must leave behind their firearms if travelling to Australia by boat. 

Indonesian gun owners must also not bring their guns to the borders with Malaysia, unless authorized by the Malaysian government or their border authorities. 

Laws on Sport-Shooting and Hunting

Guns being used for sport-shooting and training must and can only be done at an INP-approved shooting range. As for hunting, people may only hunt animals that are legal to hunt by the Indonesian government. There is no additional license for hunting, however if hunting within owned-property, the landowner must grant civilians permission to hunt, and so long as they're not hunting legally protected animals and species. 

Firearm Self-Defence Laws

According the conditions the Firearms Code, a person may only discharge his firearm on another individual as long that person was doing it in an act of self-defence. Under the following circumstances will the person not be charged with manslaughter or illegal firearms discharge:

  • if the defender had genuine belief and good reason that the offender was a threat to his or her life or party's lives
  • when in the home, vehicle or any dwelling, the defender had good and justifiable reason to believe that an offender has unlawfully forced his or her way into the property and poses a genuine threat to the defender and his/her family's lives
  • the offender was resorting to phsyical violence
  • the offender threatens to use phsyical violence
  • the defender did not invoke the confrontation

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