A document purported to be an amendment bill to the Firearms Control Act (Act No. 60 of 2000) has recently been circulating on social media. How the document came into circulation is at present still unclear, and as far as can be established it is a South African Police Service internal document not intended for public dissemination.
Pot-Shot had an opportunity to briefly look through this document and can confirm that the content is very troubling reading and a cause for concern. Whilst efforts at verification of its origin is still underway, it is of vital importance that firearms owners take note of the proposed amendments.
The 148 page draft purported to be a bill contains comprehensive amendments to the existing FCA. These amendments hold grave implications for firearms ownership in South Africa should it be established that this document is an authentic draft bill.
According to the document competency certificates for example should be restricted to a five year validity and that an application for a competency certificate should be accompanied by a medical report from a healthcare professional.
Furthermore the document envisions that no licences for self-defence purposes shall be granted (both Section 13 and Section 14 to be repealed) and that conditions forthwith be provided for the issuing of licences for occasional hunting and sport shooting.
For dedicated hunting and sport shooting the draft bill seeks to provide for the limitation of the firearms licences that may be issued, and at present no such numerical limits are in place for Section 16 licence holders.
The bill further seeks to provide for prescribed categories for collectors and the limitation of firearms that a collector may collect. Restricted and prohibited firearms in private collections would need to be permanently deactivated.
The document also makes provision for the reduction in the amount of ammunition and primers that a licenced firearms holder may possess. Currently no such restrictions are in place for Section 16 licence holders.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list of the envisioned restrictions that the draft bill seeks to impose on law-abiding firearms owners.
“The secretary of police’s office responsible for amendments has had no consultation or contact with the firearms industry or pro-firearms rights groups since 2015” says Martin Hood, the well-known legal expert on firearms matters.
“These proposals were clearly drafted during Major-General Jaco Bothma’s tenure at the Central Firearms Registry. They seek to deal with all the legal issues raised by the industry, lawyers, the courts and the CFR appeal board.”
Currently Section 13 (firearms used for self defence) is the only category requiring proof of need. Hood says that arguments by lawyers that demonstration of need is not a requirement with the other sections of firearms licences is also aimed at being curbed by the draft bill.
“The new proposals are intended to close loopholes that do not suit the SAPS agenda of civilian disarmament and this draft is a summary of all the issues currently not covered by existing legislation which the SAPS regard as inhibiting factors on limiting firearm rights”, according to Hood.
“In a country where violent crime is out of control it is ludicrous that the SAPS response is to limit the means by which law-abiding citizens can protect themselves against crime”.
A question that may be asked is whether the SAPS are pursuing a disarmament agenda on behalf of the governing party. “If this draft bill should turn out to be official government policy then this may well turn into a watershed moment, since the government will run a very real risk of losing substantial electoral support”, Hood says. “I believe this bill in essence fundamentally threatens the internal security of the Republic of South Africa”.
In terms of the next steps with the draft bill, firstly the authenticity needs to be established beyond any doubt. Should it be authentic, then it will need to be published for comment. As yet, no timelines are known and are therefore difficult to speculate about.
Hood does not however see the draft bill as a challenge that cannot be surmounted:
“Remember, we as firearms owners made the FCA work for us. The SAPS didn’t think in 2000 that people would become dedicated, and since then the commitment and enthusiasm of South African firearms owners have proven them wrong.”
What this document does demonstrate beyond a shadow of doubt is that South African firearms owners cannot for a moment relax their vigilance when it comes to legislative encroachment on their existing rights.
Pot-Shot urges all its readers, and indeed all South African firearms owners and firearms industry stakeholders, to either make donations, join or maintain their good standing with accredited pro-firearms associations and organisations. These groups need your support now more than ever before in order to fight for the preservation and protection of your interests as law-abiding owners of firearms.
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