If you are a gun collector, own a firearm for sport or simply possess a firearm for protection, the latest Firearm Control Amendment Bill will no doubt have angered you in one way or another. Public comment is now open on the Draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill. Among its aims is the removal of self-defence as a reason for applying for a firearm.
The latest statistics show that gun violence in South Africa is at an all-time high. It was reported to Parliament that South Africa is battling a surge of firearm-related deaths due to poor regulations and a lack of compliance. It appears that instead of addressing these issues, Mr Bheki Cele, our Minister of Police has simply decided to place a moratorium on the issuing of firearms licenses to those that require a firearm for their own protection. Our laws provide the citizens of South Africa with the rights to protect themselves and their families against violence. The draft Firearm Control Amendment Act in its current format will result in citizens being left defenceless in a country where violent crime statistics are on the rise.
What is of concern is the right to possess a firearm for “self-defence” is being withdrawn at a time when national budget cuts have already been made to the South African Police Services who have openly admitted that they are struggling to control the current crime wave in South Africa.
There also does not appear to be any plan on the horizon to clamp down on the illegal unregistered firearms in South Africa. When one looks at the statistics presented to Parliament in 2018, when the Firearm Control Amendment Act was initially presented to it, it was estimated then, that more than half of the firearms used in violent crimes in South Africa, were unregistered weapons.
If the amended law passes, there will also be new limits on the amount of ammunition licensed firearm owners may possess. There will be strict restrictions on how many firearms hunters, collectors and sport shooters may possess. Collectors of rare firearms who are unable to qualify for lawful firearm licenses will either be forced to destroy their collection or alternatively, ensure that the firearms in their possession are permanently disabled.
The amended law also provides for firearms to be seized from anyone charged with domestic violence or harassment, under the new proposed system their licences will be immediately suspended.
If you are affected by the Firearm Control Amendment Act and want your voice to be heard, you are encouraged to submit comments as the draft legislation on the online portals set up, alternatively, contact us and we will protect your rights.