South Africa –-(Ammoland.com)- Last week the African National Congress (ANC) held a media conference during which they inter alia called for the revision of the Firearms Control Act, No. 60 of 2000, the imposition by our courts of “maximum” sentences for people convicted of the negligent loss of firearms and, the total removal from society of illegally possessed firearms.
In the meantime various politicians and others have jumped onto the bandwagon reiterating the sentiments expressed by the ANC spokesperson.
The South African Gunowners’ Association (SAGA) has seriously considered the statement as we are concerned about the high levels of crime, particularly violent crime, in our country.
SAGA is, however, of the view that the media release was meaningless since it is based on sentiment only and achieves nothing worthwhile. What it did achieve was to criticize the ANC-led government’s own law. It must be borne in mind that the Firearms Control Act was drafted hardly 14 years ago and came into operation a mere 9 years ago. Despite being hailed as world-class legislation, it was so ill-conceived that it has already had to be amended a few times. It did not succeed in addressing the most important objective and that was to do an accurate audit of existing firearms in the country, and neither did it significantly contribute to accurate firearm records and an improvement of the Central Firearms Register.
One thing it did achieve was to antagonize law-abiding citizens. Government did not see anything wrong with removing firearms that previously had been lawfully licensed to law-abiding citizens.
It is unfortunate that the ANC used the tragic killing of Mr. Senzo Meyiwa and the attempted murder of Mr. Jackson Mthembu to make a politically loaded statement. Like Gun Free South Africa, the ANC thrive on criminal incidents. Had it not been for such incidents, they would have little to talk about. It is further unfortunate that the media conference was called only because of attacks on prominent people. Far more ordinary citizens of all races, including farmers, who contribute significantly to employing people and even more significantly to ensuring that all people have access to healthy food, are killed daily. These murders (approximately 46 per day) apparently do not justify public condemnation. It is further strange that when a firearm is used for criminal acts, the call is always to ban them, rather than find the perpetrators and bring them to book. No such calls are made when people die in vehicle accidents, fall from trees, drown, choke on food and the like.
There seems to be a culture of civil disobedience in South Africa. This is, we believe, where the main problem lies. Government, the ANC, all political parties, non-governmental organizations, churches and all others, indeed every citizen, must root out this phenomenon whereby every person seems to think she or he is entitled to do whatever she or he pleases irrespective of whether or not it is criminal.
SAGA fully supports all efforts to remove unlicensed firearms (aka: Gun Buy Backs) from society. And even though firearm amnesties seldom work (mostly unwanted firearms are handed in by licence holders while criminals seldom surrender their unlicensed firearms), we would support such a step. Apart from that the police must focus their attention on ridding society of the menace of violence, not only by focusing on removing unlicensed firearms but by tracing and arresting the criminals involved in such criminality. The recent actions by the police to arrest hijackers and other violent criminals are applauded (even though they had to use reasonable force).
No stricter gun control or amendments to the Firearms Control Act are necessary. Criminals do not adhere to laws and accordingly no amendment or increase in sentences would deter them. Illegal possession of a firearm is already punishable with up to 25 years imprisonment and, up to 5 years’ imprisonment may be imposed for the negligent loss of a firearm. What is, however, important, is effective law enforcement. Criminals must fear being caught. They continue to commit crime because they are not deterred by the law. It seems that they are prepared to take the risk since the chance of being caught is so remote.
SAGA supports all efforts by government (with the help of the broader society) to prevent and combat crime within the ambit of the Constitution and the law, provided these measures do not infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens. Accordingly we call upon government not to take any unreasonable steps to address crime. We urge all licensed firearm owners to be responsible and safe in their possession and use of firearms and to ensure that they are possessed, and used, strictly in accordance with the law.
Issued: Friday 7 November 2014 at 11:00
About South African Gunowners Association:
The South African Gunowners’ Association (SAGA) is a non-profit, non-discriminatory organization, whose sole purpose is to represent the interests of all people who embrace the principles of safe and responsible ownership and usage of firearms for sport, recreation, hunting and self-defence. Visit: www.saga.org.za