Anger over gun ownership law amendment proposal
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Cape Town - Gun owners are fuming over the newly revived legislative proposal published on Friday by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSP), which could see changes to the law that would remove self-defence as a valid reason to own a firearm.
Gun owners said the proposal must be struck off in the new draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill, because it would leave people vulnerable against crime and create a paradise for criminals.
Damian Enslin, the chairperson of the SA Gunowners' Association (Saga) and an attorney who specialises in firearm-related issues, said there seemed to be a complete lack of understanding on the part of the government about the risk of rape, murder and violent crime that ordinary South Africans had to deal with daily, with the police being unable to control the tide of violent crime.
Enslin said many citizens had therefore chosen to own a firearm to defend themselves and their families. Should that bill be passed, the choice to own a firearm would be taken away, and such persons would be at the mercy of criminals who were generally armed with firearms and other dangerous weapons.
He said the government seemed to be completely out of touch with reality and that the Cabinet, ministers and many government officials in high positions were protected by security teams and the police.
Community Policing Forum provincial chairperson Fransina Lukas said she did not agree with the proposal, although there were problems with legal guns ending up in criminals' hands.
Lukas said legislation on firearm control should be tightened, and the owners of licensed firearms should be held accountable for them so that they did not fall into the wrong hands.
Gun Free SA director Adele Kirsten said she did not have much to say until she saw the gazette. She said that the gazette suggested what the amendments were, but it didn't give the details, and it was the details that were critical.
Kirsten welcomed the fact that the amendment had come into the public domain. She said it was long overdue, and had been languishing for the past five or six years.
"It looks as if the aim of the amendment is to strengthen the law, and we would support that, but we can't make an intelligent analysis until it's up on the website," she said.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said private defence, more commonly known as self-defence, was a fundamental right in criminal law in South Africa.
Fritz said it was beyond any form of understanding why there was even a proposal to ban firearms in respect of private defence.
"We will strongly oppose the ban on firearms for the purpose of private defence on the basis that it infringes on people’s right to private defence to protect themselves," he said.
Gun Law expert lawyer Martin Hood said he was still analysing the proposed amendment bill.
Hood said the bill was horrendous and ill-informed, and angered him.
"Now is the time for cool heads, calm and rational analysis and reasoned arguments against the bill. Then we will consider other options if we are not listened to."
He said that on his reading so far, it was riddled with technical and drafting errors, which showed it was written by dogmatists who had little or no understanding of the real world.
"One example is the proposal to remove semi-automatic firearms (rifles/shotguns) from the security industry," said Hood.
Gun Owners South Africa (Gosa) spokesperson Paul Oxley said that like a rotting corpse floating to the surface of a cesspool, the 2018 "Draft" Amendment Bill had reappeared, bringing with it the stench of long-dead thinking and outmoded paternalism.
"The straight-out-of-Hollywood Ballistic Fingerprinting fraud scheme is getting another chance to absorb whatever is left of the police budget," said Oxley.