The proposed amendments to the Firearms Control Act has caused an uproar among South Africans with a number of organisations raising their concern on one particular issue.
A draft of the Firearms Control Amendment Bill was published in the government gazette on Friday.
The bill could see applicants looking to get a firearm licence for self-defence and hunting purposes being prohibited if it is signed into law.
While the bill was been labelled as draconian by some organisations, others believe that the bill will hinder the fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in the country.
‘Irrational’ and ‘reckless’
Lobby group AfriForum slammed the “irrational” and “reckless” proposed amendments, further signalling its intention to fight the legislation.
“The proposed amendments are irrational and reckless, especially since this draft takes away the ability of citizens to possess a firearm for self-defence purposes. Furthermore it appears that sport shooters and hunters will also come off second best with the proposed amendments,” AfriForum’s Law and Risk manager Marnus Kamfer said in a statement on Monday.
Kamfer pointed out that AfriForum was of the view that citizens must have the ability to protect themselves and their families against crime.
“This draft in its current format will result in citizens being left defenceless in a country where the South African Police Service [Saps] already openly admitted that they do not have the ability to protect the citizens of the country against a wave of crime.
“AfriForum will put a stop to this attack on communities’ defensibility. This draft amendment bill will be fought hand and nail and will be AfriForum’s main priority.”
‘Out of touch with reality’
The South African Gunowners’ Association (Saga) also commented on the proposed bill, saying that “government seems to be completely out of touch with reality”.
“How government could ever think about removing the right to choose to own a firearm for self-defence, when we are experiencing a severe crime rate and where even the police have previously admitted that they don’t have sufficient capacity to protect all citizens, is completely inconceivableinals,” Saga chair Damian Enslin said on Sunday.
“In Saga’s view, government seems to be completely out of touch with reality and that Cabinet, ministers and many government officials in high positions, who are protected on a daily basis by security teams and Saps, paid for by tax payers, now wish to leave ordinary South Africans citizens unarmed and at the mercy of criminals.”
Enslin said that Saga “would not take the proposed bill lying down”, adding that the organisation would approach the courts if necessary.
‘Peak of Idiocy’
Meanwhile, Gun Owners of South Africa chair Paul Oxley described the move by government as the “peak of idiocy”.
“A day after the police of minister [Bheki Cele] announces that he is cutting the police budget by R3 billion and increasing the VIP protection budget by R1.7 billion, they want to sweep self-defence firearms under the rug. This has got to be the peak of idiocy,” Oxley told CapeTalk FM.
Oxley said he believed firearm owners were a part of the solution to crime, adding that stolen police firearms was a bigger issue than privately owned guns.
He further said that the organisation would hold demonstrations in the major cities over the matter.