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SA gun owners left fuming over 'useless' webinar by the police

AN AK-47 was one of the firearms shot during the first Firearms for Journalist course held at Magnum United Shooting Range. | Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

AN AK-47 was one of the firearms shot during the first Firearms for Journalist course held at Magnum United Shooting Range. | Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 12, 2021

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Cape Town - Gun owners are angry at the police after they were invited to attend what they labelled as a “useless” ministerial consultative session on the Firearm Control Amendment (FCA) Bill.

The Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSOP) called for a webinar “Clarity of Thought” to seek an engagement to address concerns raised by various stakeholders in the firearms industry as well as public at large on the proposals emanating from the draft bill.

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The webinar, which was supposed to be held on Thursday and today, was postponed at the 11th hour after gun owners claimed they did not know what the purpose of the session was, as there was conflicting information in the email communication and no agenda had been forthcoming.

Damian Enslin, the SA Gun owners Association (Saga) chairperson and an attorney who specialises in firearm-related issues, said people may recall that when the draft FCA Bill was publicised on May 24, that there was a huge outcry from the firearms industry and from civil society as the FCA Bill, among other issues, wished to remove the choice of law abiding citizens to own firearms for self-defence.

Enslin said that resulted in over 200 000 submissions and objections to the bill, and by the time the submission period ended at the beginning of August, the vast majority, at least 98% of the submissions, were completely against the FCA Bill.

He said the CSOP informed some firearm organisations of a webinar to be held, but very short notice had been given to invited participants that formal invitations were only sent out last Friday, and some invitations were only sent out and received on Tuesday.

“There was a deep concern among all the firearms organisations and stakeholders that the government was merely rubber-stamping a process, rather than openly and correctly dealing with a proper and transparent stakeholder engagement, and obtaining input from all relevant and affected parties,” he said.

Gun Free SA director Adele Kirsten said they were also going to be part of the session.

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“When one looks at the programme, I thought it was quite well considered, in that it had a range of stakeholders making 15-minute presentations.”

She said the stakeholders would have included government departments, gun owners, trade unions.

Kirsten said there was an interesting cross session of interests who represented. However, she said the session was at short notice.

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“It showed a positive sign that the government was serious about consulting key interest groups, because it is an important piece of legislation,” she said.

When the Cape Argus questioned why it was postponed, national police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said the FCA Bill was the responsibility of the Civilian Secretariat for Police and arrangement of the workshop was done by them, and directed queries to them.

CSOP spokesperson Pinda Ntsaluba said the session “has been postponed to the near future, a new date would be communicated soon.”

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She however did not answer on what prompted the postponement.

Gun Law expert lawyer Martin Hood said: “I do not want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the signs are growing that the government is losing its control over society and is taking steps to recentralise its powers.”

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