The Consequences of being in Possession of an Illegal Firearms and/or Ammunition

By 23rd June 2022Criminal Law
illegal firearms

One factor contributing to the high crime rate is the illicit smuggling of unlicensed firearms and ammunition nationally and locally. The two relevant purposes of the Firearm Control Act are as follows:

  • To prevent the proliferation of illegally possessed firearms and remove those firearms from society, improve the control of legally owned firearms, and prevent crime involving firearms; and
  • To enable the State to remove the illegal possession of firearms from society, to control the supply, possession, storage, and transfer of the use of firearms and detect and sanction the negligent and criminal use of firearms.

The Act further prohibits the possession of a firearm and ammunition without the required license, permit, or authorization thereof. This includes the illicit trading of any firearm, muzzle-loading firearm, or ammunition without a dealer’s license. It further provides that no person may manufacture any firearm or ammunition without a manufacturer’s license. In addition, the Act prohibits the exporting and importing of firearms without a permit. Resultantly, all persons in possession of illegal firearms, dealing or manufacturing a firearm or ammunition are in contravention of the provisions of this Act and guilty of an offense. Further, any person aware of the existence of the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition and fails to report it without delay is guilty of an offense.

The fundamental issue that persists is the possible prohibition placed on persons by the Firearm Control Amendment Bill to obtain a firearm license for self-defence and amongst other prohibitions the use of firearm licenses for hunting and sport shooting events. The ability to apply to possess a firearm legally is slim to none. However, it must be noted that the public’s outcry affected delaying the Bill from being attested as over 118 000 people raised their concerns in respect of owning a licensed firearm legally. The Bill seeks to delete sections 13 and 14 of the Firearms Act which makes provision for the application to obtain a license and competency certificate to possess a firearm legally. The stringent limitation imposed by the Bill will result in no person being able to obtain a license for self-defence purposes, hunting, and sporting purposes. Further, the Bill seeks to impose a limitation on section 91(2) of the Act which will impose a severe limitation on private security providers to possess ammunition. This is a direct violation of the right to safety and security enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 (hereafter “the Constitution”).

Section 12(1)(c) of the Constitution provides that “everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources. It further provides that “everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to security in and control over their body.” Specific provisions of the Bill may be in contravention of the constitutional rights of the people.

If you require further advice, feel free to contact us and we will assist you accordingly.


Shervona Tia Marshall
Candidate Attorney



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