No-firearms sign
(Getty)
    • South Africans will not be able to apply for a gun licence on the basis that they need a firearm for self-defence, under a legislative proposal formally revived on Friday.
    • The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service on Friday opened public comment on a 2021 version of the long-dormant draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill.
    • The secretariat says the planned legislation will demand a valid reason when applying for a firearm licence – and self defence doesn't count.
    • Gun owners, and prospective gun owners, have 44 days left to comment on the proposal.
    • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

    South Africans will not be allowed to own guns for self defence under a newly-revived legislative proposal.

    The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSP) on Friday published a call for public comment on a 2021 draft of the Firearms Control Amendment Bill in the Government Gazette. Despite a promise in that notice, it did not publish the actual contents of the draft law on its badly outdated website – but revealed in a summary that it contains an effort to restrict gun ownership that is likely to be controversial.

    The draft law seeks to "provide for the applicant for a firearm [licence] to provide a valid reason for possessing a firearm", said the CSP in its description of the Bill.

    It then provides "that no firearm licenses may be issued for self-defence purposes".

    The government seemingly contemplated such a move years ago, but never pulled the trigger.

    A previous version of the Firearms Control Amendment was put out to public comment in 2015, and went through an extensive process of consultation that featured instances of "spirited discussion", but was ultimately shelved.

    Years later a new draft leaked, in which self defence had been removed as a reason to own a gun. That draft never formally made it into the public domain, and the entire effort to update firearm legislation faded from public view.

    See also | No more guns for self defence: Here’s how the law could change for hunters too

    The 2021 draft of the law contains numerous provisions to restrict firearms in private possession, many of which overlap with the 2015 effort, according to the CSPs summary.

    If the law passes, there would be new limits on the amount of ammunition gun owners may hold, and on how many firearms hunters and sport shooters may possess.

    The law would also provide for firearms to be seized from anyone charged with domestic violence or harassment, under a system in which their licences are suspended.  

    Public comments on the draft are due within 44 days, as of Saturday. 

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