Court creates confusion regarding firearms
The FF Plus is disappointed by the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the renewal of firearm licences seeing as it creates a lot of confusion for firearm owners.
The FF Plus is of the opinion that the court should not only have ruled on the validity of Sections 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act, but should also have put forward procedures to address the chaos at the central firearm register.
The court should, in the interest of firearm owners, have reprimanded the police for the chaos at the central firearm register.
A court ruling of 2009 determined that valid firearm licences in terms of the old act would remain valid until a court application by the South Africa Hunters and Gamer Conservation Association was finalised. This court application was never finalised seeing as the police never responded to it. This contributes to the confusion.
It is unreasonable and an infringement on a person’s property rights if you have to forfeit your firearm just because you applied for the renewal of the firearm license too late. This principle needs to be tested, seeing as a person does not forfeit their vehicle to the state if the owner did not renew the motor vehicle licence in time.
The judgment creates the impression that firearm owners are being discriminated against and that they are thus being disarmed simply as a result of an administrative or human error. The high incidence of violent crimes, like robberies in general, hijackings and robberies at residential premises in South Africa leaves the public with no choice, they must arm themselves for protection.
Questions arising from the uncertainty include whether or not the old licences are still valid, whether people will be arrested when they want to hand their firearms in with the police and what assurance people have that the firearms, once in the police’s possession, will not be stolen and used to commit crimes.
The leader of the FF Plus, Dr Pieter Groenewald, will raise the matter with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Police so as to find a way to properly manage the process.
Statement issued by Dr. Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader, 8 June 2018