For a number of people, buying that first handgun for defensive purposes is a big step. It is normally accompanied by no small measure of inertia. The catalyst usually being the victim of violent crime, or to have someone dear to them be such victim, or simply that the crime statistics eventually become serious enough to overcome the initial inertia.
I have a great deal of respect for those that do not come from a historic background of exposure to firearms to finally make this step. The mountain of administrative issues that needs to be overcome is not to be scoffed at.
From there we often see first-time firearm owners stricken by FAD, Firearms Acquisition Disease. This is a wonderful disease to have and must be nurtured.
The latest and greatest in the gun catalogues are acquired and licencing becomes far less of a chore when you have done it before. Variation is the theme here. Often people go for the “traditional” four: handgun, shotgun, hunting rifle and for some reason a rifle chambered in .22 LR. Not a bad arsenal by any stretch of the imagination. The person may become involved in sport shooting, and modern sporting rifles and slick semi-auto shotguns are at the order of the day.
I am here to be the handbrake and to advise a different approach, at least for the initial stage:
The second gun to buy is another defensive handgun.
Under the current legislative framework, a person who does not hold dedicated status is allowed a maximum of four firearms: Either all four under section 15 (occasional hunting and sport shooting), or three under section 15 and one under section 13 (self-defence). One handgun is allowed under section 15, and one under section 13.
The Act thus makes provision for a non-dedicated shooter to legally possess two handguns.
The reasons for my suggestion are myriad, although I will only focus on two.
The one ancillary reason is one of wear. Unless you are a collector wanting to keep the collector’s value of a firearm, you should be shooting your guns. For pleasure too, but largely in order to increase (or maintain) your proficiency, especially with your defensive gun. And as we hear so often, guns are mechanical devices and mechanical devices are subject to wear. In short, shoot it enough and it will break.
Perhaps it breaks a part that you cannot replace immediately. Perhaps it breaks catastrophically requiring replacement and licencing.
In this circumstance, being able to go to your safe and slip another handgun into your holster will be a godsend. Trust me, I’ve been there.
The main reason, and one which I find (at least in my social circle) seemingly more prevalent, is the one where you may be forced to use your firearm in a defensive situation. Procedure seems to dictate that your firearm will be taken by the SAPS for ballistic testing, a process which can take any length of time, and there are all sorts of legal and administrative processes involved before you get your firearm back. Even prosecutors and police cannot agree on the requirements for the return of the firearm, which institutional drag equates to you being without your handgun.
Timeframes I have heard of vary from six weeks to more than two years. You read that right.
Ask yourself this: After having gone through the process of proficiency, competency, and licencing in order to be able to defend yourself, can you really afford to be left without your firearm for two years? Especially in the aftermath of a situation where the accomplices now know that you own firearms, and that you will be without your defensive handgun?
If you have gone through the process of obtaining a firearm for self-defence, you must have considered the possibility of using it for the stated purpose. Take the thought process further and consider that you will be without a firearm for any length of time afterward. And then take it even further and realise that the same steps you have taken in order to obtain a firearm in the first place, can be followed to address this risk equally as well.
It is a depressing thought that the cool-guy stuff needs to go on the backburner until the risks are managed, but like insurance I see it as a necessary evil.
I cannot call it a grudge-purchase. Who would ever have a grudge about buying more firearms?
(Writer has intentionally not addressed the legality of carrying a firearm licenced under section 15. Opinion on the matter differs. Writer’s learned opinion is that it is lawful, but the reader is urged to do his or her own research and reach an independent conclusion).
Written by Phillip Marais
Phillip is a forum moderator, sport shooter and general know-it-all. Coming from a legal background, he fancies himself knowledgeable on gun rights. He detests generalisations, and thinks that Glock is better than CZ.
6 years ago
Two is one and one is none.
6 years ago
Good post and a good mindset to have.
6 years ago
Phillip, good point and thanks for this confirmation. I will sell some side by sides which I’m not using and invest in a 19/17 Gen 5 with perhaps an “ass salt rifle” to balance things out.
Christo van Wyk•
6 years ago
I just started to like you , until you said a Glock is better than a CZ…..HEHE
6 years ago
Good day, first off, good article. However, I’m a bit confused. How is it then legal to carry a FA if it is registered for anything other than self defense. If you are aloud to have 4 FA’s registered but only 1 for self defense, how could it be legal to carry another for self defence if your white card licence specifies what it is registered for? Just a question. I don’t understand, please clarify this. I want to get a second FA and don’t want to carry illegally. Thx
6 years ago
Hi Sean, my apologies for the late reply. There are a few facets to the answer. Let me start with historic context:
The initial draft (bill) of what is now the FCA started with the concept of different sections of licencing. It also (as with the current FCA) has the objective of reducing the number of firearms in circulation. This bill contained a provision stating that firearms may only be used for the purpose for which they are licenced. During the public participation process that bills go through, it was pointed out that this would be contrary to the Bill / Act’s objectives, as people would now have to buy MORE firearms, ie I cannot compete with my SD handgun, so I would need to buy one for sport. And another for hunting, etc. Thus the FCA as we know it now was amended slightly, while still containing the licencing sections, now said “a firearm licenced under this section may be used for a lawful purpose and where it is safe to do so” (Paraphrasing).
Secondly, if it was indeed the legislature’s intention to criminalise it, then it would have done so. As basis for this I refer to you the wording of Section 20, which is licences for business purposes. There it states clearly that firearms licenced under Section 20 may only be used for the purpose for which they are licenced. So the legislature was not blind to the issue, and specifically used different words for the different sections.
Thirdly, and more broadly, criminal law is based on the principle of legality: No crime where there is no law (nulla poena sine lege). It stands on three legs, ius strictum, ius certum, and ius praevium (I use the latin terms for your ease of googling my statements later on). Basically this means than in order for items to be considered criminal offences, the public must be able to determine with certainty that a specific action is a crime, status that create crimes must be interpreted strictly (ie, in favour of an interpretation that would be to the benefit of the accused), and the accused can only be convicted when the actions were considered to constitute a crime at the time of committing them (ie not only later on when the court looks at it and determines it to be a crime).
Lastly there is the issue of defrauding the Registrar. If you are motivating a licence for sport, but only intend to ever carry it for SD, I would say this would be a problem as you are misrepresenting to the Registrar. If you are going to motivate it for sport, use it for sport. But you do not need to motivate every single action that you intend to take with the firearm.
Based on the above statements it is my submission that is lawful to carry your firearm licenced for sport shooting, provided that you indeed actually also use it for the purpose for which it was licenced.
5 years ago
I have always wondered if the police would confiscate all firearms in the home in the case of a self defence shooting, for testing purposes. After reading some of the horror stories of the way some shooters have been treated by police, and by a general lack of awareness by responding officers, it seems quite likely that even if you pointed out that the sect. 13 9mm FA in your hand is the one used in the shooting, but they know that you also have another 9mm pistol under Sect 15, they may just decide to take that too. For testing purposes of course, one cant be too careful… they have no proof that is was in the safe during the incident. Maybe i am a bit paranoid?