Red tape wrangle for gun owners

2009-03-15 00:00

THE deadline for renewal of firearms licences is closing in, but gun owners are concerned that red tape is a set- up for prosecution.

According to a statement by the SA Police Service, gun owners born between October 1 and December 31 should renew their licences before March 31 or they will be prosecuted.

The statement quotes national police director Phuti Setati as saying that firearms owners who apply to renew their licences after the deadline could face up to a year in prison, a fine, or both.

But some gun owners argue that the SAPS itself fails to meet deadlines .

SA Gun Owners’ Association spokesman Martin Hood said there are delays of up to five years in granting competency certificates.

“They give us deadlines, but there are no deadlines for them to administer the process,” he added.

Hood said that while his association encourages members to comply with the law, gun owners are not the criminals and police should focus on fighting crime.

“When this law was introduced, the SAPS claimed that it would reduce crime, but we are asking why it has not reduced crime.”

The Firearm Control Act, Act No. 60 of 2000 replaced the Arms and Ammunition Act of 1969 and licences under the latter will cease to be valid from July 1, 2009.

KZN Agricultural Union security desk spokesman Koos Marais said gun owners are concerned that they will be prosecuted if their licences have not been renewed by the end of the month.

“Some people have reported that inspections on their safes have not been done and they are concerned that after the deadline they will be prosecuted.

“But we want to assure them that as long as they have a receipt to prove that they have applied they won’t be prosecuted.”

Marais commended local police for their assistance .

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