Gun ownership 'not race issue'

2010-07-16 21:26

Johannesburg - The department of police on Friday denied claims by a gun owners' group that it was "barring" blacks from owning guns.

"The ministry dismisses such bias assertions with contempt. The Firearms Control Act promotes responsible firearm ownership, irrespective of whether you are black or white," spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said in a statement.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa established a review and monitoring team, located under the secretariat of police, which assessed the firearms registry process nationally in August last year.

He said the secretariat began a consultative process with all firearms associations and urged them to make submissions towards the Firearms Control Act.

The consultation was also extended during the Firearms Amnesty campaign which ended on April 11.

"It is a fact that the Black Gun Owners' Association has not submitted any proposals or input but instead is taking an ill-informed legal stance to address such an issue.

"Our doors are still widely open and we therefore still urge them, albeit through a public platform, to make the submissions to this office."

The association on Friday announced it would sue the government for R3.2bn to compensate for jobs lost since the Firearms Control Act came into effect six years ago.

At a media briefing in Johannesburg, association chairperson Abios Khoele told journalists the legislation had resulted in 800 gun shops closing down,      10 000 lost jobs, and 40 000 blacks being refused firearms since 2004.

Mthethwa said in the statement: "Perhaps instead of marginalising themselves along racial barriers, this organisation needs to look at ways on integrating their programmes with government's.

"As a departure point, we urge them to support this ministry's ongoing campaign of promoting awareness towards responsible firearms-ownership."

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