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Sunday Times 5 Aug 2001
Battle of the gun licenses

Democratic Alliance and Gun Free SA square up
Thabo M khize

More than 100 000 firearm licenses are issued to South Africans each year, making the country the "most legally armed" in Southern Africa, according to Sheena Duncan, national chairman of Gun Free South Africa. Figures released by the Central Firearms Register show that 3 654 434 firearms were licensed to individuals as of May 1 this year.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance launched a stinging attack on the government, accusing it of discrimination, leading to a drastic reduction in the number of firearm licenses issued. But Duncan said the issuing of so many firearm licenses contributed to the spread of crime.

"The number of firearm licenses issued each year is unacceptable. The more legal firearms you have in circulation, the more get lost or stolen and end up in the hands of criminals. Gun control in neighbouring countries is much stricter than ours, and nowhere in the Southern African region are so many licenses issued. It is surprising that, in such a crime-ridden and corrupt country, people are able get firearm licenses easily. We welcome the reduction in the number of licenses issued, but this is not enough ." She was optimistic the new, stricter Firearms Control Act would ensure fewer people were granted licenses

The DA spokesman on safety and security, advocate Andre Gaum, said the drastic reduction was due to unfair discrimination based on age, gender, employment status, marital status and economic circumstances. Gaum said the Central Firearms Register's refusal to grant licenses on such grounds was "blatantly violating the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens". "In the process, they are disarming people who should be entitled to have licenses This resulted in the situation that most of the people affected were blacks. This kind of arbitrary power was exactly what the Democratic Party warned against during the drafting of the new firearms law. We hold the minister of safety and security responsible for what is happening," said Gaum.

According to DA researchers, reasons given by the Central Firearms Register for refusing to grant licenses included:

# An applicant was illiterate and had no phone number;

# A single applicant had no dependants or property to protect; and

# A person may be murdered by the weapon he required for self-defence.

Gaum accused the government of being more concerned about regulating legal gun owners than dealing with the problem of illegal firearms. Etienne Hennop, of the Institute for Security Studies, said it was impossible to estimate the number of illegal firearms in the country.

As we see by the above, it's been a longstanding battle between those who legitimately feel the need for self-protection and those who claim that no-one needs firearms. Maybe for hunting or as a sport. Then again with the government pulling the chickens' backside off by over-reacting to the discovery that schools have been offering target shooting with .22 caliber rifles as a sport, then rushing out to confiscate all these rifles, only to back down and offer some sort of 'reconciliatory' law, can we see that they don't have a clue what is happening in this country as far as firearms are concerned (that was a long one).

What is even more scary is the fact that there are probably more criminals walking around without a license (which is a guarantee) than law-abiding licensed firearm owners. At the end of the day, the criminal with an illegal firearms enjoys more protection under the South African Consti (bloody) tution than those who are being violated! At one stage an AK47 could be had for a loaf of white bread and petrol money to the Mozambican border and back!

And here's some more scary news:

Clampdown on gun ownership Monday September 01, 2003 11:41 - (SA)

Following two years of multi-million rand lawsuits about the issue, it is now almost impossible for a person to obtain a licence for a firearm. "It is like the police have introduced a quota system for firearms," said a legal expert in the field, Martin Hood. And they are taking away the legal choice to own a firearm for self-protection, gun dealers say.

They have actual examples at hand of the Central Firearm Registry refusing people a gun licence because they "had not been attacked yet".

A Johannesburg woman was refused a licence because she had a husband to protect her and others because the "police will protect them".

Police spokesman Andrew Lesch has denied allegations that the police had made a decision to turn down at least 80% of firearm applications, but gun dealers' statistics of the past few months confirmed information received from several sources in the field: there is a drive to take legal guns off the street.

The new, stricter system of legal gun ownership seems to have been introduced by the police after a spate of lawsuits about the reckless issuing of firearm licenses, Hood said. "We will never object to stricter background checks, but what is happening at the moment is unacceptable and a worrying abuse of process," he said.

It is not a problem only in Johannesburg. A Bloemfontein gunshop owner said when he asked personnel at the Central Firearm Registry for the Free State about the obvious increase in the refusal of firearm licenses (several gunshop owners have recorded refusal percentages of around 70% in the past two months) he was told: "The commissioner wants to take firearms off the streets."

A Johannesburg gun dealer said the new system had resulted in several of his clients who saved for months to buy a firearm losing about R500 they had paid for training, a safe and revenue stamps, only to have their licenses refused for bizarre or vague reasons. "They have to pay this money not knowing if they will get a licence," he said. He had noted a 68% refusal of firearm licence applications in the past three months.

Hood said he had a problem with parts of the new system which required police officers to evaluate an applicant's physical and psychological fitness to possess a firearm. He also said a new requirement that people close to the applicant, like spouses, must be consulted had led to police phoning domestic workers and neighbours of applicants and telling them about the application. "I find that worrying and frankly dangerous," Hood said.

Eastern Province Herald

Martin Hood knows what he's talking about. He probably knows more about real statistics on gun control than the government in all it's infinite wisdom. But let's get down to some real reasons for this outburst -

If you currently own a firearm, you have to re-apply for a new license (again, no guarantee that you'll actually get one). Add to that the relevant application fees.

You have to submit to a house inspection in order to proof that you have a legitimate gunsafe and that it is mounted properly (I agree fully with that, even though my gun is never in the safe - what's the use of that?).

You have to provide certification of competence which you can only obtain from a recognised training institution (seeing the war in South West is over, maybe it's a good idea).

Whatever firearms you have for which a new license was not granted, must either be sold or surrendered to the police.

This is what the DA had to say about the new law, which isn't much really (coming into effect in December this year) -

Police can't manage new gun laws alone - DA September 29 2003 at 02:59AM
By Charles Phahlane

The government should outsource certain aspects of implementing the new gun laws. This would minimize delays for gun owners and not overburden the police, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday. Spokesperson Douglas Gibson said there were only 104 000 police officers involved in active police work, instead of the 150 000 needed.

"Police officers must not be taken off ordinary policing duties to fill the gap with the new firearm regulations. If the burden of re-registering millions of firearms is too great, the minister should do himself and gun owners a favour by investigating what aspects can be outsourced to promote efficiency and prevent great irritation." Police want the legislation implemented before the end of this year.

All existing gun owners and new owners will have to apply for licenses, with private individuals allowed to own one firearm for protection. Owners of additional weapons will have to sell them through a registered gun shop or hand them over to the police for disposal. Gun owners will be tested on their knowledge of the legislation. And as with the recent conversion to card-format driving licenses, the process will be phased in for existing gun owners over about five years.

The South African Qualifications Authority has developed a training manual for police officers. But the South African Gunowners Association has said the police did not have the capacity to make the law work. The backlog at the central firearms registry in Pretoria was already affecting thousands of gun owners. Whereas it previously took three weeks for a firearm licence to be granted, it now took more than four months.

This article was originally published on page 5 of The Star on September 29, 2003

And the 'cops' take on this? All they're doing is telling you as it is... And it sucks.

Before I forget, you suckers out there in Sugarland Hills, you cannot vote in the next elections. The eight thousand prisoners being released early next year will be able to vote, so will the thousands they leave behind in jail as well. But you guys out there in Somewhere Land, you can't. Great government hey? Really care for it's people hey? You're here to serve them, not them you!

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