MPs are seeking to amend a four-decades-old law to ensure punishments reflect the seriousness of some of the crimes that come under its scope, it has emerged.

They say penalties for the possession, manufacture, smuggling and distribution of explosives, weapons and ammunition don’t match the wrongdoings.

The 1976 Explosives, Weapons and Ammunition Law has already been amended twice, in 1999 and 2006.

Under the law, anyone found carrying weapons, even if licensed, into worship places, public transport or to any public gathering faces no less than five years in jail and a fine of no less than BD500.

The punishment for possession, manufacture, smuggling and distribution is no less than seven years in jail and a fine of between BD300 and BD2,000.

Illegal weapons trade is punishable with three years in jail and fines of up to BD500, while those violating the conditions of a weapons licence could be jailed for up to three years and fined up to BD200.

Misuse of licensed weapons or firecrackers during celebrations, weddings or gatherings attract jail time of between two to five years and a fine of between BD50 and BD200.

However, if the purpose under any circumstance be deemed to create public disorder and threaten security then the punishment is life behind bars.

“The current punishments don’t match the seriousness of the crimes involving explosives, weapons and ammunitions,” said parliament foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Mohammed Al Sissi.

“The law is 43 years old and despite changes in 1999 and 2006, the punishments remain disproportionate to the gravity of the acts.

“That’s why we are working on major amendments to the law to incorporate tougher punishments and rules for the possession, manufacture, smuggling and distribution of explosives, weapons and ammunition.”

Committee vice-chairman Bader Al Dossary said the law should be applied to all equally.

“Whether it is an MP or anyone else misusing weapons, licensed or not, he should be jailed for 15 years,” he said.

“Some people have licensed weapons but they modify them or get unauthorised ammo smuggled in and then they threaten others.

“Creating and spreading panic and fear under any circumstance is like creating public disorder and threatening security and deserves life in jail.

“Though old, the current law is good but the punishments are outdated and need a thorough review.”

In 2013, former MP Salman Al Shaikh had his immunity lifted after he was accused of threatening a man with a gun during a brawl at a hotel disco.

He had then told parliament’s legislative and legal affairs committee that his gun was licensed by the Interior Ministry for protection, and denied threatening anyone with it.

He also claimed CCTV footage showed the alleged victim being attacked by others outside the hotel and not him.

In March 2017, a military court sentenced a Bahraini man to life in prison for shooting a woman dead at point-blank range.

He shot Eman Ghuloom Salehi, aged 28, in the head in front of her six-year-old son on Noon Highway in Riffa on December 23, 2016.

The High Military Court found the BDF officer guilty of premeditated murder and possessing a weapon without a licence and jailed him for 25 years.

In a separate case, a convicted killer who murdered Bahraini father-of-two Mahdi Abdulrahman Mohammed in Muharraq in August 2006 was handed a lighter sentence.

Nooh Idrees Sanan Mubarak was jailed for life on January 24, 2007, after pleading guilty to fatally shooting Mr Mohammed, owning a gun without a licence and using hashish and morphine.

Mr Mubarak has been jailed for 26 years – 25 years for murder and weapons charges, and one year for drug charges which also carried a BD1,000 fine.

The Public Prosecution appealed against the sentence and demanded the death penalty.

Mr Mohammed, 38, had met the defendant just 15 minutes before the shooting and had no earlier contact with him.

The Reuters technician, who was killed by a single shot to the chest, left behind a son and daughter.

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