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Thousands make their voices heard over proposed Firearms Control Amendment Bill

Members of the public have until the Friday to comment on the proposed Firearms Control Amendment Bill.
Members of the public have until the Friday to comment on the proposed Firearms Control Amendment Bill.
Image: 123RF/ Pop Nukoonrat

With the deadline for public comment on the Firearms Control Amendment Bill approaching, thousands of South Africans have made their voices heard regarding the proposed bill.

The bill was published in the government gazette late last month and sparked fierce debate.

Among other things, the proposed bill indicates that applicants applying for a firearm should provide a valid reason and that no licences will be issued to civilians for self-defence purposes.

Members of the public have until Friday to comment.

TimesLIVE ran a poll recently asking if banning civilians from using firearms in self-defence was the right move. 

The poll garnered over 9,000 votes with 96.6% of voters saying no to the move. 

Some 1.6% of the voters said the country needed fewer guns and more justice, while 1.8% questioned what would happen to their guns if the bill made law.

Speaking on Cape Talk, police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said over 60,000 written submissions have been received since the gazette was published.

“This is unprecedented, according to our people who are looking at the submissions. They said they have not seen so many submissions in such a short time. This demonstrates that South Africans are here to add their voice and their voice does matter,” said Themba. 

Themba acknowledged the petitions launched by various organisations, including the DA, saying those who are against or for the proposed amendment need to make their voices heard by also submitting their comments. 

The DA's petition against the bill has so far garnered more than 62,000 signatures. 

“Should [police] minister Bheki Cele succeed with this draconian legislation it will be a victory for the criminals who already enjoy a licence to commit violent crime. It will remove the last line of defence for millions of law-abiding South Africans,” said the DA’s shadow minister of police Andrew Whitfield.

“Minister Cele has made his views on gun ownership crystal clear on more than one occasion. He wants to disarm law-abiding citizens while his very own SAPS 'loses' hundreds of its own firearms into criminal hands every year.”

Cele said the amendments should not be interpreted as though government was looking into disarming citizens.

“There is no right to bear arms in our constitution and the Firearms Control Act in its current form grants no such right to citizens either. Owning a gun in this country remains a privilege made possible through the Firearms Controls Act, he said.

Cele also said that arming citizens won’t solve the country’s high crime rate.