By Gideon Joubert, Gideon is the owner and editor of Paratus
The License the Person, Register the Firearm public participation campaign is now live on Dear South Africa. We invite and encourage everyone to please participate in this vital effort to change firearm licensing for the better. As citizens we are concerned with improving safety and security in our society. We are also concerned with promoting the rule of law. And the proposed changes to the way we licence firearms in South Africa is a great way to enhance these vital societal attributes.
WHAT IS LICENSE THE PERSON, REGISTER THE FIREARM ABOUT?
It would make far more sense to treat firearms the same way we treat cars. Once you prove that you are fit and proper to own a vehicle, and demonstrate that you can safely and responsibly operate it, you receive a licence.
Therefore you are the licence-holder. And the authorities then register the vehicles you own to your name.
This is the central premise to License the Person, Register the Firearm – the proposed amendment presented here.
We can best explain the current system of firearm licencing as the government forcing you to have a separate drivers licence for every single vehicle you own.
Currently, you may operate any firearm anywhere where it is safe to do so, and for any lawful purpose, so long as you are under the direct supervision of the licenced firearm owner.
There are many good reasons for this provision. For one, it would be absolutely impossible to legally instruct or train an ordinary member of the public in safe, responsible firearm ownership if it were illegal to do so. Think of it as teaching a friend or family member how to drive with your car.
HOW WOULD LICENCE THE PERSON, REGISTER THE FIREARM WORK?
- Once an individual satisfies the legal requirements to be declared a Fit and Proper Person, they are issued a firearm licence.
- Legal requirements to be declared a Fit and Proper Person are:
- Declared competent pertaining to lawful, safe, and responsible firearm handling and ownership.
- Comply with all relevant safe-keeping requirements as stipulated by the Act.
- Have no relevant criminal record or debilitating psychiatric condition which renders them Unfit to Possess a firearm.
- We can outsource this function to a suitable independent body, much like the issuing of visas to enter South Africa.
- Licensing the person applies to both natural persons and juristic persons, such as security companies, parastatals, and other organisations that own firearms.
Once a person is licensed, a secure Central Firearms Registry (CFR) account containing all their relevant personal information is opened on the electronic registry.
- The CFR places any and all firearms a person owns on the electronic registry under their name, and record all relevant information pertaining to the firearms.
- The electronic registry must provide secure and encrypted real-time communication between the registry and authorised SAPS/CFR personnel and firearm dealerships.
- The electronic registry must conform to all protection of personal information requirements and legislation, and incorporate biometric identity confirmation of persons authorised to access it, as well as licenced firearm owners.
- The electronic registry must track all activity and enable ease of audit.
The overwhelming majority of these amendments are entirely workable within the existing Firearms Control Act of 2000 framework, and do not require significant changes to the Act.
YOUR PARTICIPATION IS VITALLY IMPORTANT
This campaign needs the participation of as many members of the public as possible to be successful. We believe this is an issue that speaks to the broader public, and not just firearm owners. So please take part and share it as far and wide as possible. Together we can change things for the better. But only if we all stand and work together.
Please find the full document outlining our proposal in PDF format here: License the Person Register the Firearm
Also please watch and share these videos for further information: