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✔️Gun Guide: Categories of firearm licences in South Africa

Introduction

In the Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000) and its Regulations (2004) there are 9 categories of licences and permits firearm owners can apply for. For the average citizen however, the 4 more important categories of licenses are:

Additional licences (section 12 of the FCA)

Licences for self-defence (section 13 of the FCA)

Licences for occasional hunting and sport-shooting (section 15 of the FCA)

Licences for dedicated hunting and sport-shooting (section 16 of the FCA)

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Any application to own a firearm, trade in weapons, manufacture firearms, or be certified as a gunsmith must also be supported by a Competency Certificate for each license type, according to the FCA.

To obtain a Competency Certificate, a candidate must be a South African citizen or permanent resident, at least twenty-one years old, fit and proper to hold the specific license (this means, among other things, that the person is stable and does not have a tendency for violence or a substance-abuse problem), and have had no convictions for crimes related to violence, dishonesty, recklessness, or instability within the five years preceding the application, or has not become a criminal within the five years preceding the application.

Section 13 licence – Self-defence

A shotgun that is not fully or semi-automatic, or a handgun that is not fully automatic, are examples of firearms that can be licensed in this category (compare with sections 14 and 16 of the Act).

A licence in this category is granted to a person who requires a firearm for self-defence and can demonstrate that he or she cannot reasonably satisfy that need through other means.

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No one person may have more than one licence issued under this section. A licensed firearm for self-defence may only be used in places where it is safe and legal.

The licence issued under this section is valid for five years from the date of issue, unless it is cancelled or terminated under the Firearms Control Act of 2000.

Possession of a restricted firearm for self-defence (section 14):

For the purposes of this section, a person may only own one restricted firearm, which is a semi-automatic rifle or shotgun that cannot be easily converted into a fully automatic firearm. The licence issued under this section is valid for two years unless cancelled or terminated under the Firearms Control Act of 2000.

Section 15 licence – Occasional hunting and sports shooting

Firearms in this category is any handgun which is suitable for hunting and can be motivated as such, or any hunting rifle or shotgun which is not fully or semi-automatic, and which is not a restricted firearm (section 14 of the ACT).

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One may not hold licences for more than 4 firearms under this section. If a person holds a licence issued in terms of section 13, he or she may only hold three other licensed firearms under this section.

Firearms in this category can be any handgun but only one is allowed in addition to a self-protection handgun under this Section, any rifle or shotgun which is suitable for sports-shooting and can be motivated as such but which is not fully or semi-automatic (excluding semi-auto pistols) or which is not a restricted firearm (section 14 of the ACT).

A licence in terms of Section 15 can be issued to a person who can proof to be an occasional hunter or occasional sports-person. Maintained membership of an accredited association is suggested but not compulsory. Proof from the association or from hunting or sport-shooting colleagues must be submitted as part of your motivation for a licence application.

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A rifle or shotgun, which is not fully/semi-automatic, or the barrel, frame or receiver of such a handgun, rifle or shotgun, which is regarded a firearm, must also be licensed.

The licence, which is issued in terms of this section, is valid for 10 years, unless it is cancelled or terminated in terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000.

Supporting documents for a licence in terms of occasional hunting must state the following:

  • Species of game an applicant wishes to hunt
  • Proof of participation in hunting activities
  • A letter indicating where such hunting will take place
  • A declaration from the farm owner where hunting will take place
  • Detailed motivation regarding his or her interest in hunting.

Supporting documents for sports shooting must include the following:

  • Proof of participating in sports shooting
  • Written proof of discipline of sports shooting in which the applicant wants to participate in
  • Proof that he or she belongs to a sports shooting association, club or organisation
  • Proof of success achieved in sports shooting activities
  • Detailed motivation regarding his or her interest in sports shooting.

Section 16 licence – Dedicated hunting and/or sports-shooting

Firearms for which application for licensing can be submitted in this category are any handgun, rifle, or shotgun or a semi-automatic shotgun that cannot fire more than five shots in succession, (not fully automatic), or a semi-automatic rifle for sports-shooting purposes.

More than four firearm licences can be issued to a person under this section once such a person has been declared to be a dedicated hunter or a dedicated sports-person by his or her accredited hunting or sport-shooting association or organisation.

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The Regulations (2004) of the FCA determine that an applicant can only acquire dedicated status once such an applicant has complied with training requirements of an accredited hunting or sports-shooting association.

By Law, only SAPS (CFR) accredited hunting or sport-shooting associations may award dedicated status to their members who comply with the training criteria set by the relevant association or organisation to acquire such status.

An individual may hold dedicated hunter or sport-shooter status with more than one hunting or sport-shooting association.

Applications for licenses in this category have to be accompanied by a sworn statement from the chairperson of the accredited hunting association or sports-shooting association of which the applicant is a member. The sworn statement must declare that the applicant is a registered dedicated hunter or sport-shooter in good standing in that association. This is called a Section 16 declaration.

Every accredited hunting association and sports-shooting organisation must keep a register of dedicated hunters or sport-shooters in the association, and must report their ID, and their name, as well as their standing in that association to the CFR annually.

Dedicated hunters who do not maintain their membership of the association where they are classified as dedicated hunters or as sports-persons, loose their dedicated status in terms of their firearm licences. They also loose the advantages to be had under that status, like the ability to hold more than 200 rounds of ammunition or more than 2,400 primers per licensed firearm, as well as losing the legal right to own more than 4 firearms.

A dedicated member who lets his or her membership of an accredited association expire, is legally required to inform the CFR of the changed circumstances through form SAPS 521(c).

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The licence, which is issued in terms of this section, is valid for 10 years, unless it is cancelled or terminated in terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000.

Documents that must further support an application for a licence under section 16 include the following:

  • Documentary proof of dedicated membership of an accredited sports shooting organisation or hunting association
  • Documentary proof of dedicated membership of an accredited professional hunting association.

Licence to possess a firearm in private collection (section 17)

In terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000, a person may apply for a licence to collect certain prohibited firearms and devices mentioned in section 4 of the Act. The Act does not put a limit on the number of firearms a person may possess under this category.

A person may apply for this type of licence for any firearm which is of collectible value and has been approved for collection by an accredited collector’s association and must belong to an accredited collector’s association.

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The licence, which is issued in terms of this section, is valid for 10 years, unless it is cancelled or terminated in terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000.

Licence to possess a firearm and permit to possess ammunition in public collection (section 19)

The Registrar may issue a licence to possess a firearm in a public collection and a permit to possess ammunition in a public collection to a public collector. The holder of the permit may not possess more than 200 rounds of ammunition unless the Registrar approves the possession of the higher number in writing.

Such a firearm and accompanying ammunition may only be displayed in an accredited museum in accordance with prescribed safety measures.

A firearm in respect of this section may only be used on an accredited shooting range in accordance with the rules of that shooting range and in accordance with the conditions that the Registrar may impose.

The licence, which is issued in terms of this section, is valid for 10 years, unless it is cancelled or terminated in terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000.

Licence to possess a firearm for business purposes (section 20)

The Registrar may issue a licence in terms of this section to the following entities:

  • A security company
  • A person who is accredited to provide training in the use of firearms
  • A person who is accredited to provide firearms in theatrical, film or television productions
  • A person who is accredited as a game ranger
  • A person who is accredited to conduct business in hunting
  • Any person who is accredited to use firearms for such other business purpose as the Registrar may determine.

The following is a supporting document for a security company:

  • Documentary proof of registration with SIRA.
  • The following are supporting documents for training in the use of firearms; theatrical, film or television production; game ranger and business in hunting:
  • A certified copy of an accreditation certificate
  • The surname and identify numbers of all trainers in a business
  • Motivation to substantiate the application.

A licence, which is issued in terms of this section, namely the licence to possess a firearm for business purposes, is valid for five years, unless it is cancelled or terminated in terms of the Firearms Control Act, 2000.

Additional licences

Additional licence can be issued to every person in the same household, that is living on the same premises, in respect of a licensed firearm owned by a person also permanently living in that household.

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Such additional licences are valid for as long as the additional licensee lives on the same premises as the licence holder and every holder of an additional licence must comply with all the requirements for the issue of a licence in respect of the specific firearm.

The non-owner of a firearm may only use a licensed firearm in the presence of the licensed owner. If a pistol is licensed to a husband and his wife should use the firearm in self-defence when he is not home, such use could constitute illegal use of that firearm. Proven threat to life will however be taken as mitigating circumstances in court.

The following requirements for additional licences must be met:

  • An applicant must reside at the same premises as the licence
  • An applicant must comply with all requirements for the issuing of a licence to possess that firearm.
  • An additional licence forms part of the maximum number of firearms a person may license in the respective categories.
  • The validity of the licence is the same as that of the main issued licence.
  • The licence will be cancelled if the main licence is cancelled or terminated.

Conclusion

In South Africa, prospective gun owners must ensure that they follow the prescribed procedures for obtaining licenses for any firearm they wish to own.

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FAQ

Is it illegal to keep a gun in your house?

If you are 18 or older, have a licence for a specific firearm and a safe that meets the requirements, you may keep a gun in your house.  

 

How many firearms can one own legally in South Africa

A person can own only one handgun or a shotgun which is not fully or semi-automatic for self-defence, but he or she may own up to four firearms for the purpose of hunting and sports shooting. Only one handgun and no fully or semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are allowed, however.

 

Can a husband and wife both hold licences for the same firearm?

Additional licence can be issued to every person in the same household, that is living on the same premises, in respect of a licensed firearm owned by a person also permanently living in that household.

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