Public comments flood in over Firearms Control Amendment Bill

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The police ministry has received over 17 000 submissions from the public regarding the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2021, that was published in the Government Gazette for comments on Friday.

The Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2021, replaces the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2015 that was submitted to Cabinet in February 2015.

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, has encouraged all citizens to make use of the legislative process that seeks to mold the Firearms Control Bill, which will overhaul South Africa’s primary law that determines who may own guns, and how those guns may be used.

“The interest and vast number of comments received so far indicates that South Africans are making their voices heard in this matter. We urge the public to continue with this momentum. All comments will be scrutinised and those considered useful will be incorporated to strengthen the provisions of the Bill.”

The police ministry said the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2021, seeks to amend and strengthen the Firearms Control Act, 2000.

The proposed amendments respond to the overarching policy principles of non-proliferation of firearms in South Africa and the strengthening of the processes relating to the applications for firearm and ammunition licenses and the management of firearms and ammunition.

The ministry said South Africans should take comfort in the fact that the proposed amendments were not taken lightly. Extensive research and consultations with various stakeholders preceded the proposed amendments

Minister Cele said the amendments should not be interpreted as though government is looking into disarming citizens.

“There is no right to bear arms in our Constitution and the Firearms Control Act in its current form grants no such right to citizens either, owning a gun in this country remains a privilege made possible through the Firearms Control Act”

Cele said that arming citizens won’t solve the country’s high crime rate.

“The mere possession of a firearm can lead to increased rates of victimisation—both for the gun owner and those living in the household. Simply put, this proposed change in law also has the potential to mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of women who are in the clutches of their abusers, inside their own homes,” said Cele.

Cabinet also approved the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Amendment Bill, 2021.

The proposed amendments seek to ensure alignment of South African legislation with international requirements, in order to effectively combat terrorist and related activities, including international terrorism.

The ministry said it is convinced that both the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2021 and the POCDATARA Amendment Bill, 2021 are key to a safer South Africa and the world.

Both Bills can be accessed on the website and are open for public comment until July 4, 2021.

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