The Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000) and the Firearms Control Regulations, 2004 impose specific requirements on a person who is the executor of an estate of a person who possesses a firearm and/or ammunition.
A person who inherits a firearm must, if he/she wishes to keep the firearm, apply for an appropriate licence, permit or authorisation in terms of the Firearm Control Act, 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000). If a person who inherits a firearm does not wish to acquire the firearm or fails to obtain the appropriate licence, permit or authorisation, he/she must deactivate the firearm or dispose of the firearm in term of the provisions of the Firearm Control Act, 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000). The Firearm Control Regulations, 2004, impose specific requirements on the possession and the safe storage of estate firearms and/or ammunition. The Executor of the estate will be deemed to be the custodian of the firearm until the firearm is disposed of or licenced in terms of the Act.
Prior to the appointment of the executor the next of kin can apply for a temporary authorization to be in possession of the relevant firearm(s).
Responsibilities of the executor
Immediately after being appointed the executor of an estate must-
• compile an inventory of all the firearms, ammunition and firearm parts in possession of the holder of a licence, permit or authorisation, which must clearly indicate that-
- make, type and calibre of the firearm
- manufacturer’s serial number or additional identification marks reflected on the firearm
- quantity, calibre and make of ammunition
- details of the firearm parts
• within 14 days of receipt of the letter of appointment, as the case may be, deliver a letter, document or send a facsimile (notification) to the Central Firearms Register, which must contain the following particulars-
- the full name, identity number and address of the holder of the licence, permit or authorisation
- the address where the firearms and ammunition are stored
- a copy of the inventory of the firearms and ammunition
- a copy of the letter of appointment
- a copy of the death certificate
- the full names, identity numbers and addresses of all the beneficiaries, if the firearms and ammunition devolve by testamentary or intestate succession
- documentary proof of appointment as executor of the estate in question.
The prescribed documents must be send to the following address:
Central Firearm Register
Private Bag X811
Safe storage of firearms and ammunition for estates of deceased persons
A person who, under a letter of executorship from the Master of the High Court, acts as executor of the estate of a person who possessed a firearm or ammunition, must take steps to ensure the safe custody of the firearm and ammunition and store the firearm and ammunition in a storage facility/safe as prescribed in the Regulations.
If a heir of an estate of a deceased person is a holder of a licence, authorisation or a permit issued in terms of the Act, he or she can provide for the safe custody of the firearm and ammunition, on condition that —
- the executor does not have the required storage facilities (the executor is ultimately responsible for the safe storage of all firearms and ammunition)
- the executor issue a letter of consent to the heir for the safe keeping of the firearm, stating the details of the licence of the deceased and the make, type and calibre of the firearm, as well as the manufacturer’s serial number or additional identification marks that are reflected on the firearm
- a copy of the letter of consent is filed with the relevant designated firearms officer for the area where the heir resides
- firearms may only be stored and not used until the appropriate licences, permits have been obtained
- no firearm(s) or ammunition may be supplied to a person other than the person who obtained the licence therefor.
The safe custody of firearms must be seen as a priority at all times to prevent the theft/loss thereof which might lead to the firearm(s) being used in the commission of a crime.