The power of pressure: Firearm Control Amendment Bill held back – IRR

Institute says fight, however, is not over as there are many problems with FCA Bill

The power of pressure: Firearm Control Amendment Bill held back

29 November 2021

“Extensive public outcry” has led to the Firearm Control Amendment (FCA) Bill being held back, according to DA Shadow Minister of Police, Andrew Whitfield. The Bill aims to deny South Africans the right to register firearms for self-defence. The holding back of this Bill marks a triumph for the effectiveness of public pressure.

Said IRR head of campaigns Gabriel Crouse: “Pressure works. Tens of thousands of South Africans made their opinions known, and fact-based arguments were put on Minister Bheki Cele’s table in a way that could not be ignored, which is why the drive to disarm people who just want to defend themselves has been halted.”

The IRR campaigned extensively as part of the pressure against the FCA. In June, the IRR’s evidence-based report, Don’t Add Chaos To Disorder, by Nicholas Lorimer, exposed the weaknesses of arguments aimed at disarming law-abiding civilians [https://irr.org.za/reports/occasional-reports/dont-add-chaos-to-disorder-exposing-the-weakness-of-key-civilian-disarmament-arguments].

A month later, the thrust of the report was underscored during the July riots. South Africa witnessed the abysmal levels of police incapacity that compelled citizens from Durban to Soweto to defend themselves in the absence of police protection, reinforcing the argument in favour of the right to self-defence.

The IRR further produced dozens of articles, made numerous radio and television appearances, and hosted deep-dive debate with key stakeholders advocating for responsible gun ownership [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN0SHqzVFtQ] as part of their public awareness campaign.

Over 20 000 South Africans petitioned against the FCA Bill through the IRR’s portal. This petition was sent to the Civilian Police Secretariat, the body responsible for tabling the dangerous FCA Bill, which now seems to be at a loss as to how to drive the Bill forward in the face of public pressure.

Moreover, the IRR’s arguments on the unconstitutionality of the FCA Bill could not be ignored – according to Whitfield, the Chief State Law Advisor has been approached “for legal opinion on the constitutionality” of the proposed amendments.

However, Crouse notes: “The fight is not over. There are many problems with the FCA Bill beyond its attempt to criminalize defending your life with a gun. The moment the government tries to reinstitute illiberal firearm laws that add chaos to disorder we will be ready to apply pressure in the name of freedom once more.”

Issued by Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns, 29 November 2021