Herewith follows further guidance and interpretation of yesterday’s expired firearm licence ConCourt ruling by a member of the FDD. The FDD is Gun Owners of SA’s legal team.
The Constitutional Court is the highest court in the country and as such the ultimate expressers of the voice of the people. The Supreme Justices are the interpreters of the “Communis Opinio” – the common view of the people on a specific issue with legal implications – or what the law is and what it “should be”.
According to today’s judgment of the Constitutional Court, the Court made it clear in the introductory paragraph of its unanimous judgment, that firearm ownership is not a constitutional right in South Africa. If one has regard to the remainder of the judgment and the implications thereof, these sentiments are echoed throughout the entire judgment.
In arriving at its judgment, the Constitutional Court first and foremost had regard to the strict letter of the relevant legislation, being the Firearms Control Act, Act 60 of 2000. The Constitutional Court then furthermore acted as interpreters of the “common view” of the people of South Africa.
As GOSA we are respectfully of the view that the interpretation by the Constitutional Court of the relevant legislation is unfortunately (for those affected with the situation of expired licenses and the entire community at large) technically correct. As a matter of fact, we foresaw this outcome and warned against it, hence our attempts (that were opposed by some and even sabotaged by others) to intervene in the matter and to address the pivotal issue of the constitutionality of the provisions that requires continuous re-licensing, as such.
This is the reality and the only way to change this reality is to work harder to cause the legislation to change. If that journey involves a change of government, to a government that passes legislation that is less draconic, then our mission seems to be clearly defined on this front.
As GOSA we can however with respect not agree that the judgment reflects the view of society at large on the issue of civilian firearm ownership. We can for one not agree that it comes down to a privilege and not a right for a citizen of South Africa “who normally behaves well” (also known as good people), to possess a licensed firearm to protect their own life against a deadly criminal attack. We are of the view that it appears by implication from the judgment on the one end that too much value was attached to the arguments of the likes of organizations with no support base, that receives funding from disclosed and undisclosed foreign sources and are opposed to civilian firearm ownership, and on the other end that the voice of the about 3 000 000 firearm owners (it needs to be remembered that that is a substantial number of voters whose votes can be a decisive factor in any election in the RSA) were discounted.
As firearm owners we therefore know what to do. We need to work towards making changes to the legislation happen, and work harder to ensure that our voice carries further to the point where it cannot be ignored or discounted when the “view of the people” are considered in future. GOSA has been taking the lead with these initiatives but can only be successful if it has the support of the firearms community.
Edited by Gideon Joubert
Gideon is owner and editor of Paratus