Gun owners say govt treats them like criminals

Gun Owners of South Africa (Gosa) on Wednesday demanded that the firearm licence renewal process be suspended.

In a statement, the firearm association said the renewal process should be suspended until the South African Police Service (SAPS) was able to complete the gun licence renewal applications they had already received.

“SAPS should also roll out the compensation owed to those who were due to renew, who surrendered guns licensed under the Arms and Ammunition Act.

“Not informing those people surrendering their firearms that they are entitled to claim compensation constitutes fraud, and, once the firearm has been handed over, theft by false pretences,” it said.

“Gun owners have been bullied, intimidated, coerced and defrauded into surrendering their firearms [over] the past three years,” the statement said.

It added that there should be an embargo on receipt of licensed firearms for destruction until the renewal process had been audited and was up to date.

Gosa said the implementation of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 has failed.

“The auditor general has never audited that implementation. The pretext for the Act is ostensibly to curb crime. The logic escapes us.”

The Black Gun Owners’ Association of SA described the licensing process as a “fiasco”, in a statement on Tuesday night.

“Our association feels that is entirely regrettable that government has decided to proceed with the intimidation of licensed firearm owners via the prohibitive and totally discriminatory Firearms Control Act,” it said.

“We view the Act as primarily designed to disarm the low-income wage earner who has little money or spare time to jump through the hurdles government has decide to erect against law-abiding people being enabled to defend themselves from violent criminals.”

The association had for years attempted to engage with government on this matter.
It had held several marches in protest but the government had continually snubbed it.

“We feel that government has treated all black firearm owners with contempt.”

The association said the government had to “provide factual proof of its claims of reducing criminal guns and reducing violent crime”.

The government had made firearm owners feel like criminals and was treating them as such, the gun owners said.

Tuesday was the last day for the renewal of gun licences and the process would not be extended, police director Phuti Setati said on Tuesday.

Setati said people who applied for renewal of firearm licences after the expiry date could be prosecuted.

“If convicted in a court of law, they may be sentenced to up to one year imprisonment or to a fine. Such convictions may also lead to a person being disqualified to possess a firearm in the future,” he said

If gun owners chose not to renew their firearm licences they should dispose of the weapons before July 1 2009.

He said people could legally dispose of firearms by having them deactivated by a licensed gunsmith after approval by the SAPS or by selling the firearm to a licensed firearm dealer.

“Firearm owners can also sell or donate the firearm to another person with an appropriate firearm licence or they can voluntarily hand the firearm to the SAPS for destruction,” he said. - Sapa

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