(Reuters) According to media reports and an unconfirmed official document, individuals “loyal to the state” will soon be able to apply for licences to carry weapons in military-ruled Myanmar.

Reuters and other media outlets looked into the stolen material, which was allegedly created by the home ministry. It outlined requirements for anyone applying for weapons licences.

Experts are concerned that allowing citizens to own firearms will strengthen pro-junta organisations and only serve to intensify the bloodshed and almost daily battles between the military and armed resistance forces that have raged around the country.

In addition to the loyalty requirement, the requirements included in the paper also included an age restriction of 18 years and a clear necessity for a pistol for security.

The 15-page paper could not be readily verified by Reuters, and it was not known when such a legislation would go into force. A military official was not available for comment when contacted by phone.

Members of counterinsurgency organisations, legally recognised militias, and veterans are all allowed to carry pistols, rifles, and submachine guns as long as they have the appropriate permits, according to the document.

Additionally, it said that the military administration would receive permission from the defence ministry to import and sell weapons and ammunition.

After five years of strained power-sharing under a military-created quasi-civilian governmental system, the country’s senior generals in Southeast Asia staged a putsch in February 2021.

According to the U.S.-based conflict monitoring organisation Acled, over 19,000 individuals lost their lives in fighting against the junta last year as a result of the military’s suppression of protesters.

According to the United Nations, which has charged the military with war crimes and crimes against humanity, more than 70,000 individuals have fled the nation and some 1.2 million people have been forced to flee their homes because of the conflict.

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