Draft law prohibits ownership of firearms on the premise of self-defence

The amendment could cultivate the ideal environment for the occurrence of infractions

By Asemahle Ntoyakhe

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 3 of VARSITY News.

Subject to the amendment of the current Firearms Control Amendment Bill, South Africans will not be permitted to have ownership of firearms for self-defence. This is subsequent to a proposal by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSP), in which the ownership of guns in the name of self-defence will be declared void. As an alternative, the draft law attempts to allow the acquisition of a licence, to be a valid reason for possessing a firearm. Although this is seemingly viable upon presentation, it is incredibly ambitious when considering that state entities do not possess a reputation for timeous and efficient service. This is therefore too great an opportunity for crime to manifest without the possibility of legal self-defence, as individuals cannot possess firearms without this licence.  

If the legislation is passed, additional limits could be sanctioned by the state, including specifications on the amount of ammunition owners may hold, as well as the number of firearms hunters and sport shooters may acquire. It could also permit the seizing of firearms from any individual charged with domestic violence or harassment – thus constituting the effective suspension of their firearm licences by authorities.

This potential bill has garnered a substantial amount of criticism amongst many communities within the country. A multitude of individuals perceive themselves as vulnerable to crime and argue that the amendment could cultivate the ideal environment for the occurrence of infractions.

These concerns are in direct correlation with the fact that South Africa has the third-highest crime rate in the world, according to the global crime index. Assault, rape and homicides, are the most prevalent crimes, which occur daily, at frequently high rates. Amongst these atrocities South Africa has the highest rape rate in the world, at 132.4 incidents per 100,000 people, thus unnervingly earning the title of being the “rape capital of the world”. The acquisition of guns in order to exercise the right to self-defence would therefore provide means of security for numerous disenfranchised individuals. This would be predominantly from the aforementioned acts of lawlessness. 

However, it is imperative that the circulation of weaponry – firearms in particular, subsides in order to decrease the rates of crime within the country. 

A solution to resolving this predicament could be to implement a system in which levies are paid for firearm ownership. When an individual hasn’t paid their levy, then they may not be permitted to utilise their firearm. If caught, the individual would have to pay a hefty fine upon the first offence and possibly face incarceration upon further offences. However, regardless of the solution implemented, the effective resolving of this matter is of paramount importance and tantamount to displaying competency in law-making. 

*This story is still developing and this article was written during the inception stages of the potential amendment.

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