Did you know that you do not need a firearm licence to lawfully operate a firearm in South Africa? This is because the current Firearm Control Act licences the firearm, not the person.

It would make far more sense to treat firearms the same way we treat cars. Once you have proven that you are fit and proper to own a vehicle, and demonstrate you can safely and responsibly operate it, you are issued a licence.

Therefore you are the licence-holder, and the vehicles you own are registered to your name.

This is the central premise to  License the Person, Register the Firearm – the proposed amendment presented here.

The current system of firearm licencing is best explained as you being forced to have a separate drivers licence for every single vehicle you own.

Currently, you may operate any firearm anywhere where it is safe to do so, and for any lawful purpose, so long as you are under the direct supervision of the licenced firearm owner.

There are many good reasons for this provision. For one, it would be absolutely impossible to legally instruct or train an ordinary member of the public in safe, responsible firearm ownership if it were illegal to do so. Think of it as teaching a friend or family member how to drive with your car.

  • Once an individual satisfies the legal requirements to be declared a Fit and Proper Person, they are issued a firearm licence.
  • Legal requirements to be declared a Fit and Proper Person are:
    • Declared competent pertaining to lawful, safe, and responsible firearm handling and ownership.
    • Comply with all relevant safe-keeping requirements as stipulated by the Act.
    • Have no relevant criminal record or debilitating psychiatric condition which renders them Unfit to Possess a firearm.
  • Much like the issuing of visas to enter South Africa, this function can be outsourced to a suitable independent body.
  • Licensing the person applies to both natural persons and juristic persons, such as security companies, parastatals, and other organisations that own firearms.

Once a person is licensed, a secure Central Firearms Registry (CFR) account containing all their relevant personal information is opened on the electronic registry.

  • Any and all firearms owned by a person are placed on the electronic registry under their name, and all relevant information pertaining to the firearms are recorded.
  • The electronic registry must provide secure and encrypted real-time communication between the registry and authorised SAPS/CFR personnel and firearm dealerships.
  • The electronic registry must conform to all protection of personal information requirements and legislation, and incorporate biometric identity confirmation of persons authorised to access it, as well as licenced firearm owners.
  • The electronic registry must track all activity and enable ease of audit.

The overwhelming majority of these amendments are entirely workable within the existing Firearms Control Act of 2000 framework, and do not require significant changes to the Act.

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