ActionSA notes with apprehension the controversial Firearms Control Amendment Bill’s proposed restriction on owning firearms for the purpose of self-defence.
The Bill, if passed, will also enforce unreasonable restrictions on sport shooters and game hunters and potentially harm the private security sector, inevitably adversely impacting our ailing economy.
We strongly reject this amendment to gun ownership laws and will oppose this amendment through the appropriate channels.
Criminals obtain their weapons illegally, in part by smuggling them through our poorly managed borders. The proposed Firearms Control Amendment Bill will do nothing to prevent the criminals that already have no regard for our Criminal Justice System from illegally obtaining guns. Disarming law-abiding citizens, however, will only make the lives of criminals easier.
In the face of an over-burdened and under-resourced SAPS, the last measure of protection available to many South Africans is to defend themselves, their families and their property with legally-owned firearms. We cannot allow this last measure of protection to be removed.
Instead of targeting honest South Africans who are left to defend themselves, our law-enforcement agencies should focus on disarming criminals as part of a holistic effort to turn the tide on violent crime.
In contrast, ActionSA advocates for making it easier for law-abiding citizens to legally and safely own firearms, whilst streamlining the administrative processes associated with gun ownership. By pairing gun ownership with stringent safety training and measures aimed at promoting responsible gun ownership, it is possible to have a safe private gun ownership regime in South Africa.
It is worth noting that in Police Minister, Bheki Cele’s recent Budget Speech, he proposed an overall budget cut of R11.8 billion while simultaneously increasing the allocation to VIP Protection by R1.7 billion. The impact of this is less money for visible policing and the protection of law-abiding citizens. The misguided allocation of resources is at the heart of our crime-ridden society.
In order to build a safer South Africa, an ActionSA government would therefore implement the following changes:
- Slash the VIP Protection Budget by at least 30% unlocking close to R1.5 billion for visible policing.
- Streamline the processes associated with legal gun ownership for the purposes of self-defence. We must license individuals, using strict and responsible criteria, and then require that those individuals register their weapons.
- Enforce safety training and promote responsible gun ownership through education and public awareness initiatives.
- Improve the quality of the police service by increasing qualification criteria, drastically improving training, empowering our crime intelligence community and improving the working conditions of law enforcement officers.
- Depoliticise the administrative institution of law enforcement and ensure that the SAPS can function without political interference. Executive appoints must be made solely on merit, competence and a commitment to ethical service.
- Reintroduce specialised units to target priority crimes. This must be complemented by specialised courts to deal with certain categories of crime, such as grand corruption.
While the proliferation of unlicensed firearms in the hands of criminals adds to the levels of violence in our society, the answer cannot lie in targeting already vulnerable law-abiding citizens.
To restore the Rule of Law in South Africa we must reform our Criminal Justice System, capacitate law-enforcement agencies, and ensure harsher penalties for criminals. It is must criminals that live in fear of the consequences of their actions, and not the law-abiding citizens of South Africa.