A leaked draft of the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, which intends to amend the Firearms Control Act, has caused trepidation among South Africa’s three million plus legal firearm owners.
The Bill inserts a section 11A into the existing Act, which reads, in part:
“(1) The Registrar may not issue a licence that authorises the possession of a firearm unless the Registrar is satisfied that the applicant has a valid reason for possessing the firearm.
(2) An applicant does not have a valid reason for possessing a firearm if the applicant intends to possess the firearm for any of the following reasons –
(a) self-defence or the protection of any other person; or
(b) the protection of property, other than in circumstances constituting a valid reason as set out in this Chapter.
(3) Subsection (2) does not limit the reasons which the Registrar may be satisfied are not valid reasons for the purposes of justifying the possession of a firearm.” (my emphasis)
There are 5.3 million firearm possessors in South Africa, of which about three million are legally licensed owners. If this bill is passed into law in its current form, it will likely make it impossible for those who acquired their licences for the purpose of self-defense unable to renew those licences, which is required on a periodic basis. Aspirant firearm owners would be barred completely from using guns as a tool to defend themselves going forward.
Gun Owners South Africa (GOSA) chairperson Paul Oxley said, “Once again [South African Police Service] leadership has proven that they are not serious about the lives of citizens in South Africa.” Oxley continued:
“The major concern we have is the right to life of law-abiding citizens. Crime is escalating at an alarming rate, whereby the criminals perpetrating these crimes are becoming increasingly violent. Taking away a means to effectively defend oneself will see to an increase in violent crimes committed against all South Africans, this cannot be allowed to happen.
We urge all law-abiding legal gun owners of South Africa to write to the chairperson of the Police Portfolio Committee, Mr. Francois Beukman expressing your dissatisfaction at this preposterous and uncalled for attack on your right to life, and the ability to protect yourself against the crime infestation we all face on a daily basis. [email protected]
Now is not a time to roll over, in feeding the crocodile hoping to save your life you will only be eaten last. It is time to stand up and fight for your rights, not sit back and accept this. We urge all gun owners to join us in this fight.”
South Africa has had one of the most violent crime rates in the world for several years, which makes it unsurprising that millions of South Africans have decided to arm themselves both legally and illegally. There is no constitutional right to possess firearms in South Africa – it is currently a privilege granted by legislation.
In September 2018, Business Tech reported on South Africa’s crime statistics. In the year 2017/18, there were 20,000 recorded cases of murder, meaning that 57 South Africans out of a population of just over 55 million were murdered every day. That is a rate of 35.7 people murdered per 100,000 population. That makes the whole of South Africa about as dangerous as the city of Detroit in the United States, which had a murder rate of 39.7 per 100,000 in 2017. There were 40,035 rapes in South Africa in the same year. That’s 112 rapes per day, or five rapes per hour.
This bill has not yet officially been made available to the public, thus much of its content may (and hopefully will) change.
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