By Kaya 959 News
Gun lobbyists have slammed proposals to the Firearms Act that, if made law, could prevent citizens from securing a gun licence for hunting or self-defence.
Government released the draft of the Firearms Control Amendment Bill which many believe could leave people unable to protect themselves against criminal elements.
Paul Oxley of Gun Owners SA said the amendments were worrying. Describing it as a ‘train smash’, he said the government failed to explain how they are going to take guns away from bad people.
The South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union said the government should focus on other, more pressing matters in the country.
“How will taking away legal guns for self-defence change the rate of illiteracy or poverty in the country? Now people will not just be uneducated, unemployed and poor, but they will also have to depend on the South African police – which fails at fighting crime miserably – for safety,” SAPTU General Secretary, Advocate Ben van der Walt, said.
“We beg the government and all its decision-makers to stop wasting time and money on less important things. Start prioritising things that need to change right now and focus on that. Root out corruption and get the country safe and then people would probably not need firearms for self-defence,” he said.
Calls for comment
Action Society’s Dr Rineé Pretorius urged residents to comment on the draft amendments.
Teaming up with DearSA, the group said it is extremely concerned about the impact that the Firearms Control Amendment Bill will have on the rights of South African citizens – especially vulnerable and defenceless women.
Pretorius said despite the multiple flaws and failures of the existing justice system, the rights of women to protect themselves are now also being threatened.
“How many more women need to die at the hands of their ruthless and violent killers? When is enough, enough? How can the government justify spending another R26 million on VIP protection while the vulnerable women and children in our communities remain exposed and unprotected?” she said.
The DA has launched a petition against the Bill.
The party’s Andrew Whitfield said there is a need to protect gun ownership for self-defence as it is the last line of defence for many South Africans.
He said South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
“Just by walking in the streets, South Africans are exposed to dangers similar to those faced by people in some war-torn countries. Disarming law-abiding citizens in the current crime-ridden environment is reckless, ill-advised and places many innocent civilians at the mercy of criminals,” he said.
Difference between life and death
Police Minister General Bheki Cele said amendments should not be interpreted as though the government is looking into disarming citizens.
“There is no right to bear arms in our Constitution and the Firearm Control Act in its current form grants no such right to citizens either, owning a gun in this country remains a privilege made possible through the Firearms Controls Act,” Cele said.
He said the mere possession of a firearm can lead to increased rates of victimisation—both for the gun owner and those living in the household, simply put, this proposed change in law also has the potential to mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of women who are in the clutches of their abusers, inside their own homes.
The Police Ministry is convinced both the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2021 and the POCDATARA Amendment Bill, 2021 are key to a safer South Africa and the world.
Both Bills can be accessed on the Civilian Secretariat for the Police’s website www.policesecretariat.gov.za and are open for public comment until 4 July.