The Civilian Secretariat for Police invited the public to comment on the proposed Firearms Control Amendment Bill from 21 May to 4 August 2021. During this period Dear South Africa (DearSA) delivered 151 784 comments from over 126 000 unique individuals. DearSA have analysed the 97 399 submissions containing written commentary, and compiled an executive summary thereof.
Summary of the proposed FCA Amendment Bill
The amendments proposed, among numerous other changes, the deletion of Section 13 of the Act – thereby cancelling self-defence as a reason to own and use a firearm. It also cancelled the category of licensing pertaining to collectors. Additionally it seeks to place severe restrictions on sport shooters and hunters pertaining the number of firearms and amount of ammunition they may own, as well as significantly reduce licence validity periods.
Results: Overwhelming Rejection
Of the 97 399 written submissions, 95,98% (93482) rejected the proposed amendments while 1,99% (1940) did not fully support it and 2,03% (1977) fully supported it.
The participants’ Top Concerns were predominantly with the Bill in its entirety (48,79%) and Firearms for self-defence (47,33%).
This indicates that the South African public is strongly opposed to further restrictions pertaining civilian firearm ownership, and that they feel particularly strongly about the issue of owning and using firearms for the purposes of self-protection.
An unsurprising outcome
This is not a surprising nor controversial outcome. The South African intentional homicide rate has increased every year since 2011, and significant problems pertaining policing have become so apparent that the National Commissioner in October 2018 admitted to Parliament that it is “impossible” for the SAPS to fulfil its constitutional mandate.
The failure of the State to prevent or contain the unprecedentedly destructive July riots across KZN and Gauteng further underlined the reality that the public cannot rely on the authorities to secure their safety.
In this milieu it is instructive to note that approximately 96% of submissions reject further gun law restrictions – in line with government-commissioned research from the Wits School of Governance that also cautioned against such restrictions. The path forward will preferably be one of meaningful stakeholder engagement on the issues plaguing the CFR and SAPS, with the intention of finding meaningful and transparent solutions for these challenges.
This matter is far from over as DearSA are currently drafting an amendment to the FCA to address the issues of firearm registration and licensing, which is more pertinent than ever considering the collapse of the CFR.
Download: DearSA FCA Report Executive Summary