This month has seen a tremendous amount of information being disseminated in the wake of the ConCourt judgment on expired firearms licences. Conflicting information is currently circulating in the media which has led to many people being uncertain about the status of their licences.
What is beyond dispute is that ID book and green licences that were not converted to white licences remain valid. What is deeply ironic is that individuals who elected not to comply with the new legal requirements for firearms ownership in 2004 are now in a legally more secure position regarding the ownership of their firearms than those people who elected to comply with the law.
The question that is troubling a number of firearms owners with expired white licences is what the status of their firearms is should they still possess an old green or ID book licence – does possession of the old licence mean that the firearm is still in legal possession? Or is has the process of having relicenced the firearm on to the white licence system invalidated the old green licence?
Opinions in this regard differ markedly from one stakeholder to the next and different organisations representing South African firearms owners are offering different interpretations. In the next edition of Pot-Shot there will be a comprehensive assessment of different legal opinions and also hopefully clearer guidelines from the SAPS regarding this matter.
In the meantime there are some things about which there is no uncertainty and which firearms owners must be fully aware of. If you have an expired white card licence and no green/ID licence, DO NOT 1) Remove your firearm from your safe. 2) Under any circumstances modify, damage, or alter your firearm in any way that is in violation of the law.