Cape Town - The postponement of the Firearms Control Amendment (FCA) Bill has been widely welcomed, with lobby groups saying the removal of the “self-defence” clause as a reason to apply for a gun licence was absurd.
The recent decision by Parliament’s portfolio committee on police to postpone the bill was based on the need for inclusivity to achieve consensus and the requirement that the bill should reflect the views of the South African public as envisaged in the Constitution.
Gun Free SA (GFSA) director Adèle Kirsten said the decision was not a sign that Parliament was opposed to strengthening the FCA.
Instead, it ensures that the best possible version of the bill goes to Parliament, and was the right thing to do.
Kirsten said the delay means that the government now has more time for bilateral stakeholder engagement.
“Considering the significant interest in proposed amendments, this extra time is critical to ensure that all stakeholders are heard, including the voices of youth and communities living with the daily reality of gun violence,” she said.
Committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said public participation was the bedrock of a constitutional democracy and everything should be done to safeguard the rights of all South Africans.
This after the committee received a report indicating that the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) has so far received over 118 000 comments on the public participation.
Joemat-Pettersson said on that basis, the committee decided to give the CSP enough time to complete the process.
“It is important to give this bill the time it needs, and thus it will be tabled when all relevant processes have been adequately dealt with by the secretariat for police,” she said.
Action Society spokesperson Ian Cameron, said Action Society has strongly opposed the FCA Bill since it was introduced by Minister of Police Bheki Cele.
Cameron said the postponement was a step in the right direction but they believed that Cele was still planning to disarm law-abiding citizens.
Damian Enslin, the SA Gun Owners Association (Saga) chairperson and an attorney who specialises in firearm-related issues, called on the government to scrap the entire FCA Bill as it was “unconstitutional, irrational and unreasonable”.
Enslin said it was clear that the people of South Africa were in the vast majority (at least 98%) against the FCA Bill.
The government and the police must start acting within the ambit of the Constitution and engage with all firearm organisations and stakeholders concerning any amendments to the current FCA 60 of 2000, which act is in the main workable, but does need some fine-tuning, he said.
Gun Owners of SA member Alan Martheze said they do not trust the processes by the police, claiming that they had been ridiculed, alienated and victimised too many times before.