The Iranian government has handed a draft bill to parliament to ease the use of firearms by different security forces against civilians amid recurring protests.

Some media outlets say the Speaker of parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has welcomed the draft bill.

Iranian media say, "the bill aims to ease the use of firearms against illegal gatherings." This comes while Iranian security forces did not shy away to shoot unarmed protesters, killing as many as 1,500 people in 2019. They widely used shotguns in later protest gatherings in Isfahan and Khuzestan provinces often shooting protesters in the head or chest during the past year.

According to Rouydad24 news website, "The Iranian armed forces have always had the permission to shoot protesters in illegal gatherings, but the new bill changed the phrase 'the officers of the armed forces' to 'armed officers,' given permission to more individuals to carry and use firearms."

The draft legislation has been introduced on the same day when Iranian media revealed that a hijab enforcement officer shot a man in a Tehran park four times a few weeks ago after they harassed his wife for not covering her head properly. The coincidence alarmed Iran's civil society which is active mainly on social media.

Iranian journalist Hedie Kimiaee wrote in a post on June 11: "Based on the new [draft] bill those who are shot at by the security officers can no longer file complaints against the officers. On the other hand, anyone who is issued a gun by the government is now officially a security officer."

A security officer firing at protesters in Esfahan in Noveber 2021

The existing bill about using firearms allows officers to shoot when there is an armed struggle or a riot in which armed individuals take part, but the draft bill applies categorically to any gathering, since all it takes is for the government to claim that protesters were armed.

The report in Rouydad24 said that those who prepared the draft have deliberately ignored the fact that this bill can be taken advantage of, and that its implementation can have grave consequences.

Recently, lawmaker Ahmad Naderi warned that this year the government may have to face protest gatherings and riots more widespread than the 2019. He added that confronting such riots could lead to catastrophe.

Meanwhile, another lawmaker Ghasem Saedi warned that there is a limit to people's patience. Failing to manage the next protests might lead to events more serious than what happened between 2017 and 2019."

The report added that since 1995, the government has never assumed any responsibility for people being shot during protest gatherings. Plainclothes officers have been observed beating the people during previous protests, the concern now is that they can now use firearms.

On the other hand, both Rouydad24 and Didban Iran new websites expressed concern that the new bill applies to "illegal protests." Islamic Republic authorities have never accepted any gathering as lawful unless they are in support of the government.

The media also opined that the new bill could be one of the outcomes of appointing IRGC officers as local governors in some two dozen Iranian provinces. These commanders look at any gathering from a security perspective.

Didban Iran also opined that the new bill could be an initiative to stop legal complaints against law enforcement officers.

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