On 20 November 2018, the ANC did firearm owners a great disservice by voting against a proposed amendment to the Firearms Control Act in the parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Police. The amendment would have afforded firearm owners who did not renew their license on time the opportunity to do so.
Initially, the voting outcome was tied and so the chairperson of the Committee, Mr Francois Beukman, had to cast the decisive vote. He voted with the ANC and, thus, a golden opportunity to provide thousands of firearm owners with certainty was missed.
Dr Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus, tabled the private member’s amendment bill after the Constitutional Court’s ruling in the case of the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association regarding the constitutionality of Section 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act. The ruling determined that licences that were not renewed in time meant that the firearms were illegal.
With the amendment bill, Dr Groenewald wanted to ensure that the more than 400 000 firearms that are currently unlicensed will remain in the possession of the owners so as to afford these owners the opportunity to apply for the renewal of their licences.
With this proposed bill, firearm owners would have been able to keep their firearms and simply pay an administrative fee for the late application for their licence renewal and it would have avoided the problem of them being illegally in possession of a firearm.
At present, there is a court interdict in place that was obtained by GOSA (Gun Owners of South Africa) and it stipulates that the police may not arrest firearm owners or demand that they hand over their weapons if their licence has expired.
It, however, does not solve the problem of licence renewal seeing as the court application must first be finalised.
In the Committee, even the ANC members agreed that the private member’s bill tabled by Dr Groenewald does address the problem and that the bill’s proposed solution has merit. In spite of this, they still did not vote in favour of it.
The ANC’s argument is that it can run concurrently with the police’s process for a new amendment bill by the Ministry. The problem, however, is that this process will take long and the FF Plus is of the opinion that it will not yet be finalised by the end of 2019.
The implication of this is that after the elections, there will be new members in the Police Committee who may not truly comprehend the scope of the firearm crisis and as a result, they will be unable to make a properly informed decision on the matter.
It is lamentable that the chairperson of the Committee used his decisive vote to do firearm owners such a disservice.
Read the original article in Afrikaans by Dr Pieter Groenewald on FF Plus
South Africa Today – South Africa News