Please read below for my view of lawful South African firearms ownership and our Constitution.
Most firearms owners are aware of the American People’s right “To Keep And Bear Arms”. Firearms ownership for Americans are guaranteed in no uncertain terms in their Constitution.
Unfortunately, South Africans are not as lucky to have the subject expressly addressed in our Constitution, but I believe through inference, the South African Constitution, read together with the Firearms Control Act (60 of 2000), does actually provide for our Constitutional right to lawful firearms ownership.
The anti-gun lobby will at this point spill their coffee over their screens and keyboards in utter disbelief and disgust as this is incomprehensible because this is not inline with their agenda to disarm the lawful and see us oppressed by the lawless.
Please continue reading anyway and allow me to explain.
There are three sections to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights that is relevant to either firearms ownership for self-defense, or firearms ownership for sporting and/or hunting and/or collecting purposes.
Firstly, LIFE. You have the right to life. Everyone has the right to life.
Secondly, FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION. You can associate with whomever you want to. You have the right to associate with anyone.
And lastly, PROPERTY. Your property can only be taken away from you if the proper rules are followed. No-one may be deprived of property, except in terms of law of general application.
Separately, these excerpts from our Constitution seems unrelated to firearms ownership, except maybe for our Constitutional right to life as mentioned first (but still not expressly addressed, so still seemingly unrelated).
However, if you read these three sections in conjunction with the Firearms Control Act, it becomes logically apparent that we have the Constitutional right to private firearms ownership for the purposes of self-defense or sporting and/or hunting and/or collecting – as long as you keep up your end of the bargain, that is…
There is almost always a “BUT”. The “but” here stems from the Firearms Control Act, moreover, sections 9, 102 & 103.
Sections 102 and 103 deals with most, but not all the circumstances (mostly criminal offences) that can have a person declared unfit to possess a firearm if he/she already owns a firearm, or in section 9 that could preclude a prospective firearm owner from the onset to even apply for a competency certificate (very first step in the SAPS process) if he/she has been in the past found guilty of one or more of these offences or does not comply with the requirements.
The opposite is also obviously true. If you have not been convicted of an applicable offence, and you meet all the requisites of the Firearms Control Act to be considered fit to possess a firearm, there is little else (theoretically) than some basic safety training, administrative paperwork and an application fee standing in your way of becoming a lawful firearm owner.
(For the purpose of this piece I will ignore the obvious bureaucratic & practical inefficiencies, excessive latency and exorbitant expense that the implementation of the Central Firearms Registry and the process has laid at firearm owners’ and the industry’s feet…)
The above is what I meant with you keeping up your end of the bargain. If you are a responsible and accountable citizen, like mostly all firearms owners are, your end is upheld and we can move on to the constitutionality of the matter.
The above makes me think of a legal term: “Everything which is not forbidden, is allowed.”
We know we have the Constitutional right (and more importantly God-given right if you are so inclined) to life. And we know that from section 13 of the Firearms Control Act, we are allowed to protect this sacred right from threatening or lethal attack.
It is also well know and accepted, also in section 13 of the Firearms Control Act, that a private firearm chosen for self-defense is a perfectly suited and relatively effective tool to ensure as best you can, that no willful and unlawful harm comes to your, or anyone else’s right to life.
We have the Constitutional right to life. Why is it not more widely recognized and accepted that by logical extension, we also have the Constitutional right to firearms ownership to defend our right to life if we absolutely need to, if we are fit and choose to lawfully own firearms?
We know we have the Constitutional right to freedom of association. If a person chooses to associate himself with sport shooting and/or hunting and/or collecting, as part of his culture or otherwise, Why is it not more widely recognized and accepted that by logical extension, we have the Constitutional right to firearms ownership in order to enable us to participate in our chosen activities, if we are fit and choose to lawfully own firearms for sporting and/or hunting and/or collecting?
We know we have the Constitutional right to private property. If a firearm owner lawfully obtained a firearm, surely it becomes his private property? Why is it not more widely recognized and accepted that by logical extension, we have the Constitutional right to firearms ownership as our private property, if we are fit and choose to lawfully own firearms for whatever reason?
The answer to the above might be that it is not widely recognized and accepted because (as far as I know) the constitutionality has not been tested to set a precedent in terms of the law. But surely it will be tested by our highest court someday.
On that day, I want to take a front row seat because it will be the birth of South Africa’s “Second Amendment”.
On that day, we will know that if we are, and maintain fit, our Constitutional right to lawful firearms ownership shall be recognized and accepted by all and infringed upon by none.
On that day, we will know that we are truly free from oppression, free to defend our right to life, free to associate ourselves however we please, and free to wholly, privately own anything we can lawfully obtain.
I mentioned the anti-gun lobby and their agenda earlier. They exploit every opportunity, at times even reveling in the tragedy of some instances to actively seek to disarm us, the lawful and responsible firearm owners who are not the problem in terms of firearms-related violence.
Quite ironically, they are the ones who aggressively, almost violently try to force lawful firearm owners into submission to give up arms, to blindly follow what they choose to believe in.
While conversely you will never see lawful firearms owners try to force their beliefs onto anyone, they do not actively seek to force all persons to be armed, they respect that it is a great responsibility and a choice and some may choose not to do so, and in so doing, they respect the rights of the individual, they respect our Constitution.
It seems that the age old adage is true after all; “An armed society is a polite society.”
The anti-gun lobby needs to start respecting the rights of the people, their Constitutional rights.
Until I am ever proven wrong (IF at all), I will believe that the South African Constitution was written to protect the rights of ALL its people, I will believe that it is my Constitutional right to lawfully own firearms if I am fit and choose to do so.
Anyone seeking to infringe upon my Constitutional rights, Molon Labe, you will eventually fail when met by the facts.