Proposed amendment to the Firearms Control Act, 2000

Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2018

The recent Constitutional Court judgement in the matter of Minister of Safety and Security v South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association [2018] ZACC introduced a system of more questions than answers in terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000). Hereinafter referred to as the “Act”

In the Government Gazette, Notice 531 of 2018, dated 31 August 2018, Dr Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus, intends to introduce an amendment to the act. The proposed amendment intends to address the “defects” in terms of section 24 of the act, thus paving the way for clarity on the process of renewal of your firearm licence after the subsequent expiring thereof. The proposed amendment caters for 3 different scenarios of expiry.

What does the amendment entail?

For the purposes of this discussion, it is important to take note of the contents of section 24 of the act:

  1. “The holder of a licence issued in terms of this Chapter who wishes to renew the licence must at least 90 days before the date of expiry of the licence apply to the Registrar for its renewal.
  2. The application must be-
    • accompanied by such information as may be prescribed; and
    • delivered to the Designated Firearms Officer responsible for the area in which the applicant ordinarily resides or in which the applicant’s business is, as the case may be.
  3. No application for the renewal of a licence may be granted unless the applicant shows that he or she has continued to comply with the requirements for the licence in terms of this Act.
  4. If an application for the renewal of a licence has been lodged within the period provided for in subsection (1), the licence remains valid until the application is decided.”
  5. The following should be noted about the proposed amendment:

    • The first scenario: You as the holder of a licence in terms of the act, may apply for the renewal of the licence within 90 days before expiry thereof. Thus if your licence expires at, for instance, the end of September 2018, you would be able to still submit your application for renewal on or before 30 September 2018, despite the 90 days requirement currently in terms of section 24. In this regards, an administrative fine of R500-00 would be imposed by the South African Police Service.
    • The second scenario propose that you can apply for renewal of your firearm licence within 90 days after the expiry thereof, which will include an administrative fine not exceeding R1 000-00. For example: Your firearm licence expired 30 September 2018, but you can still apply for renewal of the licence within 90 days after 30 September 2018.
    • The third scenario entitles you, the firearm owner, a further extension of 30 days to apply for the renewal of the firearms licence if you did not comply with the first and second scenarios. An administrative fine not exceeding R1 500-00 will be imposed for the late applicant. The proposed amendment imposes a further obligation on the licence holder, and that is that if you did not comply with scenario 1 and 2 above, you will have to hand in your firearms at the SAPS station, or your dealer for storage thereof. The costs for storage thereof will be for your account, and the firearms will only be handed back to you if you can provide proof of you application of renewal.

    If you look at the practicality and the consequences of the scenarios above, a R1 500-00 administrative fine is a small price to pay for you to keep your firearm. During the three “grace periods”, the licences are valid until the renewal application is successfully finalised. The mere fact that you applied late for the renewal of your firearm licence and/or due to the fact that an administrative fine was imposed on you, will not disqualify you in being successful with your application for renewal.

    General provisions

    • The bill also propose an amendment to sections 106 and 107 of the act in that proof of application of renewal will be sufficient in the event of an inspection at your house or upon request of the SAPS at a roadblock;
    • The bill also seeks the implementation of a transitional provision to be applicable to expired licences before the commencement of the proposed amendment.
      • Conclusion

        It is important to take note that the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2018 is a proposed amendment to the act, and not yet in force. This bill will have to be accepted by the Parliament of South Africa and also signed by the president before it will be in operation and enforceable. At this stage, you as a firearm owner and South African citizen can submit written representations on the bill until the end of September 2018, either if you support the contents thereof or if you are against it. Remember, if you don’t participate in the process, you can’t complain later!

        Read instructions for submitting your comment here: https://www.greengazette.co.za/notices/the-proposed-firearms-control-bill-2018-notice-of-intent-to-introduce-a-private-members-bill-into-parliament-and-invitation-for-public-comment-thereon_20180831-GGN-41881-00531.pdf

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