Burma Gun Controls:

Recent events in Burma have led some people to wonder about kind of guns controls Burma has. Below is what I've found in a first round of research. Commentators are urged to supply additional information.

First, from the website of the Burma Lawyers Council, a pro-freedom organization based in Thailand:

A 1951 law bans possession of automatic weapons, grenades, and explosives with the intent to commit high treason. A rather narrowly-tailored law, at first glance.

However, the law states that the President can by decree add "any other arms or ammunition" to the banned list. And any person with a banned weapon is presumed guilty of intending to commit high treason, and required to prove his innocence:

Provided that, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law for the time being in force, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, in a prosecution under this section, that the person found going armed with; or in possession of, or having under his control any of the arms, ammunition or military stores specified herein, had the intention of committing the offence of High Treason.
Sections 96-106 of the Penal Code recognize the "right of private defence" of person and property, including the right to use deadly force against certain felonies, including a night-time home invasion.

The Online Burma/Myanmar Library has an excellent search engine, and many articles. There are a lot of dead links to the full text articles, but you can usually find the article via Yahoo, once you know the exact title. Here are some interesting articles I found:

TheMay 17, 2006, issue of The New Light of Myanmar (a dictatorship propaganda organ) has an article (starts on page 16, then jumps to a previous page) expressing pleasure that "16 families exchange arms for peace."

A December 9, 2006 article in Kaowao News no. 121, the "Newsletter for social justice and freedom in Burma" reports:
Mon grass roots communities have urged the ceasefire group, New Mon State Party not to lay down their arms amid pressure given by the military regime. Public opinions have been heard during the party's public campaign in Ye, Yepyu, and Three Pagodas Pass Townships under its administration this week.

"We (Mon public) cannot give up our arms to them. We have sacrificed for so many years. The SPDC will surely take away our rights if the NMSP gives up their arms," said a villager at the public gathering on December 4, 2006 where NMSP leaders Nai Hongsar, Ong Htow Mon and Captain Jalon Htow talked to over 120 attendees at Palai Japan village, a sparsely populated area near Three Pagodas Pass Thai Burma border town.
There are a number of other articles to similar effect, of the government press praising disarmament, or ethnic resistance advocates warning against it.
An August 2005 article from The Irrawaddy, "How World War II Shaped Burma's Future," explains:
In the beginning, Aung San and his Burman nationalists had sided with the Japanese. His Burma Independence Army was armed and trained by the Japanese, while the Allied powers armed and equipped hill peoples such as the Karen and Kachin to fight the occupiers. Centuries of mistrust between the Burmans and the hill peoples resurfaced, and those wounds have not yet been healed. Even today, many Karen talk with bitterness about atrocities carried out against them by the BIA during the Japanese occupation, and the Kachin are proud to point out that they already had celebrated their victory manau in Myitkyina by the time the Burman nationalists in March 1945 turned their guns against the Japanese.

The arming of the hill peoples, and vast quantities of weapons left behind by the Japanese, meant that Burma's ethnic conflicts from the very beginning turned violent. The hill peoples had the means to form their own militias and armies and the first, the Karen National Defence Organisation, was set up in 1947, a year before independence. The Mon formed a similar militia in 1948, while the most militant of the Burman nationalists, the Communist Party of Burma, dismissed independence as a sham and resorted to armed struggle in April 1948. That war continued until 1989, when the hill-tribe rank-and-file of the CPB's army mutinied against the aging Burman leadership of the party and drove them into exile in China. But the army remains under a different name, the United Wa State Army, and although it has had a ceasefire agreement with the government in Rangoon since the mutiny, it still has at least 16,000 soldiers--and they are better armed and equipped than the CPB's army ever was.

An October 2005 report of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (a Norwegian-funded organization which works closely with the UN) states:
Six percent of households [of displaced persons in eastern Burma] reported that they had at some point resorted to procuring a hand gun to minimize threats to safety and livlihoods. Given the threat of being suspected as either a rebel sympathizer by the SPDC or a government collaborator by the armed opposition, this gauge of the prevalence of assault weapons is considered high. Due to the breakdown in law and order and the ease of procurement, transport, concealment, and use, the prevalence of small arms is in itself a significant threat of violent insecurity.

(Executive Summary. Page 55 notes that some of the "hand guns" may be "simple hunting rifles.")

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