By John Crump
South Africa –-(Ammoland.com)-I have written about South Africa in the past, and its Draconian gun laws. To own a gun in South Africa, you need to have a license. Under the old law, the firearms license never expired. Under the new Firearms Control Act that all changed.
The gun owner must renew his firearms license every five years. If a gun owner does not renew his/her license with an at least 90 days of the expiration date, the license becomes forfeited. The previously legal guns that the gun owner has in their possession have to be turned in to the nearest police station for destruction. There is no grandfather clause.
Gun groups appealed this law to the South African Constitutional Court, which is equivalent to the US Supreme Court. The Court ruled that gun ownership is not a right. According to the court, gun ownership is a privilege which can be regulated by the state in any way it sees fit.
That ruling means that over 400,000-gun owners in South Africa are now in possession of illegal firearms. Many in South Africa and also around the world see this as a step that the South African government is using to clear the way to become a totalitarian government.
The South African government is known for being corrupt. Their police force is known for being corrupt. Gun owners in South Africa do not feel that they can trust the government, and honestly, they are probably right. Corruption runs through the veins of the South African government. Would you trust the government in that situation?
Not only is the government becoming more totalitarian on guns, but it is also seizing farmland from white farmers without compensation. Could the disarming of the populace be just one more step in controlling the people?
Some organizations are fighting back against these unfair and unjust laws. In the past, I have interviewed John Welsh of the South African Gunowners Association (SAGA) about what is going on in South Africa. SAGA similar to our NRA, but that isn't the only organization fighting back against the tyrannical government.
Gun Owners SA (GOSA) is another organization in South Africa fighting back. Much like how Gun Owners of America is the no-compromise gun lobby in the United States, GOSA is the no-compromise gun lobby in South Africa. Both groups are fighting back against George Soros funded anti-gun groups. I was surprised to find Soros was pushing anti-gun legislation in South Africa, but he is known to push his leftist agenda in countries around the world.
I had a chance to speak with Paul Oxley who is the Chairman of GOSA. Paul was a founder of SAGA in the 1980s. He has a lifetime experience of fighting for gun rights in South Africa, and this is what he has to say.
John: What is Gunowners SA?
Paul: Gunowners SA (GOSA) is a non-profit membership-driven organization of some 42 000 concerned South African gun owners (with a sprinkling of international friends). Our stated objective can be summarized as: To strive for a sane licensing regime.
John: As I have written about in the past, gun rights are under attack in South Africa where it is considered a privilege and not a right. There seems to be a lot of people that think the government is trying to disarm the people to impose even more draconian laws. Do you buy into that, or is this just about guns?
Paul: There is no doubt that the South African government drank [the anti-gun] Kool-Aid years ago (way back in the 1980s… well before the current government). The ‘new’ South African government is merely the inheritor of the legacy of over-regulation and discrimination against law-abiding citizens. It seems that totalitarian governments move in lock-step, one with the other.
In the early days of the change of government in South Africa, the now-ruling ANC stated that once they came to power there would be no firearms in private hands in South Africa. Their plans haven’t worked out too well for them.
The facts are that there are now more private firearm owners owning more firearms than ever before in South Africa’s history.
Does this scare the government? I’m sure it does.
John: The South African Constitutional Court ruled that gun ownership was not a fundamental right under SA’s Bill of Rights‚ but a privilege regulated by the act. Was this ruling a surprise?
Paul: This has long been the opinion of the South African government… from way back in the early days of the Union of South Africa. Her Majesty did not approve of Her subjects being armed… I believe you lot have some experience of that?
In any case, we DO HAVE a right to life (with the inherent right to defend that life with the most effective means possible), from that we happily infer a right to possess whichever are the most effective means.
John: The old firearms license was supposed never to expire. The court ruling changed that by basically nullify the old license. The new license only lasts five years and has to be renewed 90 days before it expires or it is forfeited. What was the reason given for changing the law?
Paul: The firearm licenses granted under the Arms and Ammunition Act were lifetime licenses. In 2004 the government, at the urging of the George Soros-sponsored GunFree SA and in the image of the Canadian Long-gun Registry [which has failed miserably] set about crafting their idea of the People’s Utopia where only the people they liked should have guns. The official party line was that the old Act wasn’t tight enough, and so they replaced it with an Act which is poorly thought-out and impossible to implement… and at a HUGE cost to the tax-payer.
John: Does the government expect the people who are currently in possession of firearms and do not hold the license just to turn them into the police?
Paul: I think they would like to believe that it is that simple. Quite simply the South African Police Service who is entrusted (a difficult term to use for an institution that has been described as the ‘most corrupt’ arm of what is surely one of the most corrupt governments on Earth) with implementing the surrendering of the firearms is according to the Minister of Police (this week, on national radio) logistically challenged… but don’t worry, says he, they’re “working” on it!
John: Does the government have a list of firearms owners from the old license database?
Paul: Yes. The accuracy of that list (and the database for the ‘new’ licenses) is infamously corrupted, and many thousands of firearms are missing from the lists.
John: The government says police are not going to go on a witch hunt for the newly made illegal guns. Do you trust them not to turn this into a widespread door to door confiscation?
Paul: Whilst the Minister has indeed claimed exactly that, the goons who work for him have been printing out their own “Surrender your firearms or face arrest” notices and have been all over the media threatening and cajoling. This is what we are seeking to stop with our court action.
John: A lot of Americans think that this gun grab has to do with the farmland confiscation. It is hard to know what is true and what is not when it comes to international news in the US. Do you think the farmland confiscation has anything to do with the new gun laws?
Paul: I’m certain it will make it easier for the farm invaders and harder for the farm defenders. I would hate to speculate as to whether or not this is an intended consequence.
John: Does Gunowners SA have any recourse left to fight back against the courts ruling?
Paul: Oh boy! We sure do. We are taking the fight to the government on all fronts… along with our allies in the firearms community have thrown down the gauntlet. Our current court challenge will, we are sure, provide immediate and also lasting relief for the hard-pressed South African gun owner.
The following is a relatively comprehensive release we issued a day or so ago:
“As many of you are aware GOSA has been working on having the renewal of licenses under the FCA scrapped for years now – this was the main reason we rushed to the Constitutional Court in February… and emerged as the only pro-gun winners in that the Con Court refused to deal with the broad principle of relicensing. Our argument is that relicensing is impossible in the South African context, and you simply cannot enforce a law that is impossible to enforce.
Well, the Constitutional Court judgment of 7 June has presented us with the ideal opportunity to take our argument forward. By delivering an unjust and unwise judgment the Justices criminalized the owners of 437 000 firearms… purely because their license had lapsed, regardless of the reason, therefore. On the 14th of June we organized and attended a snap (unscheduled) debate in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police, and the Members of Parliament put several probing questions to the SAPS management. As a direct result of that the Divisional Commissioner for Visible Policing, Lt General Masemole, was sent out of the meeting to consult with me. He requested that GOSA's counsel immediately contact SAPS' counsel before they could issue the expected National Directive.
We did so, and spent the next weeks negotiating with them… in fact, we are still negotiating with them, and so no National Directive has yet been issued.
Despite this, however, several Provincial SAPS offices, and even local DFOs started issuing demands for people with expired licenses to surrender their firearms or face arrest!
GOSA has applied to interdict the SAPS from proceeding to harass and threaten expired license-holders, and for the High Court to declare an
extension of the validity of the expired licenses until such time as our full application to extend the period of validity of all licenses to the lifetime of the license holder is heard.
THIS is the medicine for the current illness… and will be the foundational step on the route to license the person, register the firearm… our long-term goal!
So, even if you do not have an expired license, this issue is absolutely central to GOSA's entire strategy.
But we need your assistance. We need to raise approximately a million rands to get this through court. Over the last week and a bit (since applying for the interdict) we have raised about R150K. We are far short of our target.
We have made it as easy as possible to contribute… our Payfast Cause account www.payfast.co.za/donate/go/gunownerssa is the easiest and cheapest way for you to support us. Please do.”
We also have Paypal available as an option if anyone would like to pitch in… www.paypal.me/gunownerssa
John: What can the US learn from the situation in South Africa?
Paul: Never, EVER give up a right!
Don’t get caught in the “reasonable” trap. Stick to your guns… literally!
Readers can find out more about Gun Owners SA at www.gosaonline.co.za/gosa-exco
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.