South Africa – -(Ammoland.com)- In a statement in the National Council of Provinces, President Zuma on 6 November 2014 said that “.. we are seriously concerned about the proliferation of guns in our society, and the level of violence that we have seen on display”.
He continued to say that the “police will take advantage of the proposed changes in the Firearms Control Act to introduce more stringent measures for gun control and ownership.” He also referred to the murder of soccer star, Senzo Meyiwa and the attempted murder of ANC MP, Mthembu.
If these two incidents were a wakeup call for the President, it reflects a sad state of affairs since approximately 47 people are killed daily in South Africa. What makes these two individuals more equal than all others to justify such a public outcry?
The South African Gunowners’ Association (SAGA) wholeheartedly supports any call for and all measures to remove illegal firearms from society. It also fully agrees with an enhanced programme of action against violent crime (in fact, all crime). However, the President‘s call for “more stringent measures for gun control and ownership” is pure rhetoric and aimed at the wrong target (pun intended). The issue is crime and people control – not gun control. Citizens must change their attitudes and become law abiding. While we have this culture of civil disobedience in our country where traffic laws and all other types of petty (and in many instances serious) crimes are committed as if there were no laws, the tendency to commit any and all types of crime will persist.
The Firearms Control Act, No. 60 of 2000 is already a strict law. The so-called two-fold licencing system, if applied correctly, does a great deal to ensure that only competent people possess firearms. The Act further provides for almost draconian penalties, up to 25 years’ imprisonment for the unlawful possession of a firearm and, up to 5 years’ imprisonment for the negligent loss of a firearm. In both instances, upon conviction, one is also deemed to be unfit to possess a firearm. This means that an existing licensed firearm owner will forfeit all his or her other firearms to the state.
How ironic is it that the vision of the government’s Delivery Agreement of 14 September 2010 is that “All people in South Africa are and feel safe”? By introducing stricter measures for gun control and ownership, government will achieve only one thing: to make ordinary law abiding citizens even easier targets and more vulnerable to criminals. Criminals will not be concerned about the president’s call for the introduction of stricter measures. They will merely enjoy a much risk-reduced working environment.
Ordinary citizens do not have the luxury of bodyguards and most cannot afford alarms and armed response services. Plus, they are all aware of how long it takes for the police to respond to an emergency call. In case of an emergency, one cannot expect the police to be present – they simply do not have the human and other resources to be everywhere all the time. When a violent attack happens, the victims have to be self-reliant. The best protection remains a well-trained individual armed with a readily available handgun. But then this is every free person’s personal choice – SAGA does not prescribe what free people should do, excepting to stay lawful and safe.
If the call for stricter measures is to reduce the number of negligent losses of firearms we suggest government starts looking at the number of firearms lost by, or stolen from, its own agencies. This includes those rented out by police and the military; and its failure to account for all the surrendered firearms and all those firearms for which licences have illegally been obtained due to corruption and fraud. Sources of illegal firearms that are often not considered, since it is more convenient to blame legal firearm owners, are: the unaccounted firearms of the former independent and self-governing states in South Africa; those of the former liberation movements; and those that enter through the porous and often uncontrolled borders of South Africa.
SAGA believes that the best thing that the President and government can do, is to focus their energy and the resources of the state on eliminating corruption and criminal activities within state institutions. Although the Firearms Control Act is still a teenager, it has already been amended a number of times and the much applauded control system of world repute is still to be seen to function efficiently. What is required is a well-trained, well-resourced and dedicated police service that will ensure efficacy in the implementation and enforcement of existing firearms legislation.
This statement is issued by SAGA in the pursuit of a safe environment where everyone may enjoy his or her legitimate freedoms, with no unnecessary infringements and interferences.
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