The recent monumental victory by Fidelity and Martin Hood in the South African constitutional court has given gun owners and the great citizenry the chance to breathe a much-needed sigh of relief. It was ruled that people with expired firearm licences would be allowed to apply for a new licence for their expired guns. This comes after years of uncertainty and a string of incompetent judgements and unworkable directives.
The Firearms Control Act (60) of 2000, originally made provision for the renewal of expired firearm licences. The IT infrastructure and software that was installed in 2004 was only ever about 60% completed. Since then, there has been close to zero maintenance and the outstanding 40% has still not been installed. This means that the operating capacity is not what it should or could be. SAPS claim that they had lost the function to capture the renewal of expired firearm licences. It was also ruled in a recent court case that your firearm licences which have expired were deemed to be “invalid”. A clear directive or explanation of this ruling was never provided, which left over 400,000 South Africans in a sort of legal limbo. This was quite worrying as this judgement hinted at the suggestion that these people were in fact now in the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, which carries a hefty sentence.
The South African Police Service were of the opinion that people with expired firearm licences should hand in their firearms for “destruction”. This posed a number of critical problems, the first being the infringement on our constitutional right to own property. Firearms often cost a pretty penny and it is not constitutionally correct to be forced to give up your property for destruction. The second fundamental problem is that SAPS are in fact the number one supplier of guns to criminals. The is therefore a strong possibility that the firearm you hand in for destruction will in fact make its way into the hands of murderous criminals. This sounds a bit far-fetched, but there are heaps of documentation, court cases and evidence which has made this an undisputed fact. One prolific case was when Colonel Chris Prinsloo was convicted of smuggling thousands of guns from the Norwood armoury to violent gangs on the Cape Flats. It is indeed a sad fact that the very people charged with defending your life, property and rights, are in fact the same people arming the evil underbelly of society. This is just one of the dozens of reasons why civilian firearm ownership in a country like South Africa is so important.
Gun and civil rights groups such as the South African Gun Owners Association, Damian Enslin, the National Hunting and Shooting Association, as well as various others, are a key cog in the liberty machine. These are the guys holding the thin line between liberty and tyranny. We are all very lucky to enjoy the various benefits that these organizations offer South African citizens at large. If left unchecked, the government would more than likely have us toiling in the potato fields, while they crack a communist whip over our backs. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank and congratulate Martin Hood and Fidelity for taking on this landmark case and ensuring justice was served.
As previously mentioned in this article, Martin Hood and Fidelity successfully took SAPS to court over the constitutionality of a previous ruling in SAPS’s favour, which stated that expired firearm licences were invalid. It was ruled in the Constitutional Court of South Africa that people or entities whose firearm licences had expired, could apply for a new licence for that firearm, without the threat of prosecution. This is a very important ruling for South Africa, as it proves that we still have a constitution that is protected by law. SAPS have recently issued a directive to its members and Designated Firearms Officers detailing how this order will be effectively handled at station level.
Some key points to note, if you are someone with an expired firearm licence are:
According to the information available at the time of writing this article, firearm owners will be able to apply for a new licence as per the information above. There are however still some questions that we are waiting to be answered. Some of them are listed below.
In closing, citizens whose firearm licences have expired can breathe a sigh of relief. You can now safely and certainly remedy the situation in which you sit with an expired firearm licence. There is currently no deadline or penalty attached to submitting a new application. We do however recommend obtaining a valid licence as soon as possible to ensure that you can benefit from the current legal landscape. As always, Gunlicence.co.za is here to make the process as smooth and effortless as possible. If you have absolutely any question, please do not hesitate to contact us.