Changes to gun laws on the way

Amendments to the Firearms Control Act will be introduced in Parliament next year, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has said.

The amendments would be “technical in nature” and meant to close legal loopholes, he told journalists at Parliament today.

“We’ll need to take advantage of that to look at all other gaps ... that will have to be closed around firearms control ... at the level of practical measures,” Nhleko said.

About 5 000 applications for firearm licences were received monthly, and about 500 of these were rejected.

Nhleko said this was indicative of a larger societal problem.

“As the South African society we need to be concerned about the levels of violence within our society and the fact that we need to enter into a dialogue that seeks to assist us ... to improve on our human relations from one person to another,” he said.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said despite consistent decreases in violent crime over the past few years, the use of guns to commit criminal acts was of concern.

“We certainly took a keen interest in the bill that we are piloting on gun control, tightening our control measures,” Masutha said.

“We would be looking at it from the point of view of whether we have strong enough penalties where there’s the use of ammunition in violent crimes.”

The bill was currently with the police ministry and would be sent to Cabinet for approval soon.

“It is indeed with police for further consultation with stakeholders. Maybe after the December holiday it will go to Parliament,” deputy police minister Maggie Sotyu said.

Earlier today, the ANC called for a review of the country’s gun laws to reduce the number of illegal guns on the streets.

“The time has come for us as a nation to review existing gun-control measures with a view to limiting access to guns that end in the wrong hands,” African National Congress spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

“The ANC calls for the total removal of illegal guns from society because these have proved to be a menace.”

This followed the murder of Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, on Sunday night, and the wounding of ANC MP Jackson Mthembu during a robbery in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, earlier this month.

“What they had to contend with was ... marauding gun-toting criminals who have no regard for human life,” Kodwa said.

The ANC believed stricter gun-control laws were needed to punish negligent firearm owners.

“We call on the judiciary to show no mercy for those in possession of illegal guns and those who are guilty of negligence,” said Kodwa.

“Maximum sentences should be imposed as a deterrent against those in possession and those who use these guns to mow down other human beings.”

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