Firearm amnesty was declared from 1 December 2019 to 31 May 2020 in terms of section 139 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act 60 of 2000) (the Act).
The aim is the reduction of the number of illegally possessed firearms. It has never been a success as criminals do not surrender their guns.
A person who partakes may not be prosecuted in relation to
- the firearm, for having it without the appropriate licence, or
- the ammunition, for having it without having been in lawful possession of a firearm capable of discharging the
You may apply for a licence in respect of that firearm within 14 days from the date on which the firearm was surrendered.
If a licence is granted, the firearm and ammunition must be returned to you.
It is important to note that the condition of the current amnesty that an applicant could not apply for a licence where documentary proof of previous ownership cannot be produced, surely made way for holders of expired firearm licences who wish to legalise their firearms again.
Ballistic tests are conducted and if an application for a licence has not been lodged, such firearm will be destroyed.
At the time of writing this article, it was the last day of the current amnesty period declared by the Minister.
CURRENT AMNESTY, THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL DECLARATION YET
Green licence still valid
SA Hunters was granted an interdict during 2009 against the police prohibiting them to criminalise the so-called ‘green licence’ holders who failed to make use of the transitional provisions of the Act by not renewing same. This interdict is still valid, so are the green licences, as it was not contested.
Law abiding citizens who did renew their green licences to that of the so called ‘white licence’, were now obliged to again renew their white licences and competency certificates within the time frames as set out in section 27 of the Act.
Police did not regulate section 24 of the Act & the white licence renewal time frames of section 27
Section 24 of the Act states that the holder of a white licence must apply to the Registrar for its renewal at least 90 days before the date of expiry of the licence, and if not, that the licence terminates in terms of section 28 of the Act. But the police ignored section 24 & 27 by processing ‘late renewals’.
Late renewals stopped by police in 2016
Then on 3 February 2016, Acting National Commissioner Lieutenant General Phahlane stopped it in its track when ‘clarifying’ section 24 of the Act in giving instructions that from then on no expired white licence will be renewed and persons trying to do that be told that they are not in lawful possession of same and that it must be surrendered to the nearest police station.
SA Hunters challenged section 24 and 28
SA Hunters then challenged the constitutionality of sections 24 and 28. In July 2017, Acting Judge Ronel Tolmay in the High Court, ruled in favour of SA Hunters. Judge Ronel Tolmay at the time deemed the sections unconstitutional and gave parliament 18 months to amend the Act.
Constitutional Court overturned Judge Tolmay’s ruling
On 7 June 2018, the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) overturned this ruling declaring sections 24 and 28 constitutional, leaving about 450 000 gun owners destitute and being forced to surrender their firearms and ammunition.
Gunowners SA then interdicted police from collecting or accepting guns as ordered by ConCourt
On 27 July 2018 Gun Owners SA (GOSA) successfully interdicted the Minister of Police from accepting, collecting and/or demanding the handing over of firearms as ordered by the ConCourt.
Minister appealed GOSA’s interdict
On Friday 22 May 2020, the matter was heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal and judgment was reserved. On Friday 24 July 2020, more than 450 000-gun owners, unlawfully in possession of their guns, were stripped of protection they had.
Minister applied for extension of firearm amnesty. Decision imminent.
The Minister has already approached Parliament to extent the amnesty as it could not be fully utilised because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Johan Martin, Director at Martin & De Beer Inc.
Attorneys in Bloemfontein and franchisor of the Legally Armed Group.
Is the extended amnesty, if passed, your last chance to legalise your ‘illegal’ firearm of which the licence has expired?
Now that the GOSA interdict failed you, certainly!
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Special thanks to our source - Legally Armed HQ
From Legally Armed for this story.
Bernu van den Heever
Legally Armed Head Office
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