South Africa – -(Ammoland.com)- On the 9th July 2018, the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, said in a radio interview that he intended proclaiming an amnesty to allow those in possession of firearms with expired licences to surrender them to the police. At the same time he also said that the police will not be on a witch-hunt searching for people and firearms, the licences of which had expired. He commented that as a result of the Constitutional Court judgement, many people are currently in possession of firearms with expired licences.
Despite the National Commissioner’s undertaking to provide guidelines for the surrender of these firearms with expired licences, this has not yet happened.
It is important to note though, that Gen Sitole did say that since the amnesty falls within the Minister’s discretion and mandate, and he was unable to express an opinion about it.
Earlier this week SAGA Trustee John Welch was interviewed by the media on SAGA’s views about the proposed amnesty. He stated that under normal circumstances SAGA does not favour amnesties since very few, if any, firearms were surrendered by “real” criminals – those who murder, steal and rape. Also, during the two previous amnesties not a single surrendered firearm could be linked to any crime.
However, in light of the recent Constitutional Court’s ruling that should a licence holder have failed to timeously apply for the renewal of her/his licence, after the expiry of that licence, she/he will have in their possession an unlicenced firearm and could thus be criminalised.
Because of this intolerable state of affairs SAGA, and other members of the firearms community, have tried to engage the police with proposals to alleviate the plight of those affected persons. In the meantime, at least two organisations have brought court applications to obtain relief for people with firearms with expired licences. We will keep our members informed of the outcomes of these court cases.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police (PPCoP) has been informed that they will be requested to debate and consider the amnesty request. This debate may happen on 16 August 2018. SAGA has already communicated with some of the Portfolio Committee members with a view to influencing the deliberations.
SAGA believes that the amnesty must provide not only for the persons with expired firearms licences, but also for such interested persons to apply for licences for their affected firearms. And further, that the duration of the amnesty should be at least six months to enable such persons to carefully consider what they wish to do.
We also believe the Minister should be permitted to extend the period of the amnesty should it be deemed necessary. SAGA will ensure that it has representation in the Parliamentary Committee to guide, if necessary or required, those committee members who care to ask advice.
SAGA would also like the Portfolio Committee and the Minister of Police to consider our proposal to reduce the logistics of the amnesty by permitting such persons to retain possession of their affected firearms (by keeping them in their safes), and then to apply for a new licence. This will prevent firearms from being stolen or going missing from SAPS 13 stores.
SAGA members are reminded that every free and law-abiding person has the right to make choices – no person should be forced into decisions, and government should not make choices on behalf of the people.
Citizens who believe that the burden of owning a firearm is just too much should consider surrendering their firearms. However, those who believe that a firearm may make the difference in protecting lives, or wish to continue sport shooting and/or hunting and remain responsible for keeping their firearms safe, and comply with the law by applying for relicencing for as long as it is required, must be allowed to obtain new licences and keep their firearms.
The SAGA Trust
P O Box 35203
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