Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
30 Jun 2021
1:04 pm

You can still have your say on proposed Firearms Control Act amendments

Molefe Seeletsa

While more than 100,000 written submissions have been received to date, the bill will now remain open for public comment until 2 August.

The bodies of the three women were discovered after they were shot in the head. Picture: iStock

South Africans can still have their say on the proposed amendments to the Firearms Control Act of 2000 after public participation on the bill was extended, the Police Ministry announced on Wednesday.

The Draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill was published in the Government Gazette late in May this year, with the public given until July to submit their comments in writing.

While more than 100,000 written submissions have been received by the South African Police Service (Saps) to date, the bill will now remain open for public comment until 2 August.

READ MORE: Stolen police weapons a bigger issue than privately owned guns 

“The comments received by and large oppose the repeal of the provisions pertaining to self defence, the collectors of firearms and ammunition, private collectors, the reloading of ammunition, the restrictions on the number of firearms and ammunition that sport shooters and hunters may possess and the reduction in the licensing period,” Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said in a statement.

Themba said Police Minister Bheki Cele on Monday decided to extend the legislative process to amend the bill to allow further public participation for 21 working days. “This period will commence from 5 July 2021 and end on 2 August 2021.”

She said the decision for the extension came after the Civilian Secretariat Police Service (CSPS) received numerous requests for information that forms the basis of the amendments.

ALSO READ: Cele’s gun control changes would be ‘a Mensa move’, says hijacking victim 

“In the spirit of fairness and transparency, a decision was taken to make [the Witwatersrand School of Governance, 2015 and the Firearms Committee 2016] research reports available and afford all members of the public an opportunity to have proper insight into the reports and provide informed comments when contributing to the strengthening of the bill.

“It is prudent to note that these research reports were not the only source of information which informed the provisions of the amendments, but consideration of policy decisions and crime statistics were utilised as well.”

If it is signed into law, the bill could see applicants being prohibited from getting a firearm licence for self defence and hunting purposes.

Written submissions can be sent here.

Backlash

The proposed amendments to the bill have been received with a backlash.

Many organisations including Congress of the People (Cope), Afriforum and Gun Owners of South Africa have slammed the proposed amendments, describing them as the “peak of idiocy”, “irrational” and “reckless”.

The South African Gunowners’ Association (Saga) said it “would not take the proposed bill lying down” and would approach the courts if necessary.

READ MORE: Diminishing SA’s right to bear arms ‘madness’

Girls on Fire, an organisation that helps women get licences for firearms, believes the bill will hinder the fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in the country.

The DA has since started a petition against the proposed amendments, which has already received more than 79,000 signatures.

The party has strongly opposed the bill, saying “it will be a victory for the criminals who already enjoy a licence to commit violent crime”.