DA urges SAns to object to Gun Bill – Andrew Whitfield

MP says amendments would hamper citizens' right to protect themselves

DA submits objections to draconian Gun Bill; urges South Africans to object before 31 July 2021

29 July 2021

Today, the DA has submitted our objections to the Firearms Control Amendment Bill and we urge all South Africans to use these last three days to voice their objections and submit their comments on this draconian Bill that amongst other things seek to remove “self-defence” as a reason to possess a firearm.

This Bill has been a source of concern and anger since its publication on 21 May 2021, and rightly so. The amendments suggested would severely hamper any citizen’s rights to protect themselves – something that cannot be judged lightly, particularly given the wide-spread destruction and chaos that reigned in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng two weeks ago and left residents there to fend for themselves when the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies failed utterly to protect communities from violence and looting.

In addition to our objection to the removal of “self-defence” as a reason to possess a firearm, we also object to the following aspects of the Bill:

The broad and sweeping powers given to the Minister of Police to ban any type of ammunition by notice in the Government gazette.

We do not believe it is appropriate to completely remove the expiry period for a disqualification of a person who is declared unfit.

The DA opposes the increased requirements this Bill will create to get a licence for occasional hunting or sport shooting purposes.

We oppose the limitation on the number of firearms licenses that dedicated and professional hunters may possess.

We do not support the removal of the ability to own firearms and ammunition in private collections.

The periods of validity for occasional and dedicated hunting and sports- shooting licences, professional sports shooting licences, business purpose licences and licences for public collections should remain as is in the current Act and not be reduced in the proposed Bill by half for almost all categories.

The Minister’s powers to prescribe the manner in which a firearm must be carried by a security officer is overly broad and too open-ended in this Bill.

The limitation of only transporting 3 firearms, without a transporter license, may be too low as it is foreseeable that professionals and security personnel may at times be required to transport more than 3 firearms at a time.

We are of the view that the reduction of ammunition that a holder of a firearm licence may possess from 200 cartridges down to 100 cartridges per licenced firearm be removed.

We strongly opposed the amendment to repeal Section 93 of the Firearms Control Act. This amendment will remove the ability of private licenced firearm holders to load and reload their own ammunition.

While the DA supports the need for strong gun control and licensing, we cannot support this Bill in its current format. It has far-reaching implications not only for civilian safety but also for other industries such as the professional hunting and private security industries.

We urge all South Africans to the write to the Civilian Secretariat for Police at [email protected] and to the DA at [email protected] before 31 July 2021 and to sign our petition so that this Bill can be stopped in its tracks. Police Minister Bheki Cele cannot ignore the 100 000 people that have already signed our petition, nor the many objections sent to the Civilian Secretariat.

Minister Cele has failed utterly in his task to enable SAPS to protect and serve South Africans, and now he seeks to strip us of further safeguarding measures. He cannot continue to persecute law-abiding citizens, just because it’s easier than doing his actual job of catching criminals and protecting our people. If the Minister cannot fulfil his mandate, he must be fired. But turning ordinary people into criminals because of Minister Cele and SAPS’ ineptitude should never have been tolerated by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Issued by Andrew Whitfield, DA Shadow Minister of Police, 29 July 2021