SA firearms registry is in a mess, claims dealers' body
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Cape Town - The South African Arms and Ammunition Dealers’ Association (SAAADA) said the firearms registry is in a mess and regulations are constantly changing, making it difficult to register firearms.
The organisation has called on the police to engage in “meaningful dialogue with the firearms community, so that they may work together towards a peaceful South Africa where citizens live safely, benefit from economic activity and are free to practise their legitimate and lawful pursuits”.
SAAADA chairperson Jonathan Fouché said since early 2018, the central firearms registry (CFR) has wilfully disengaged from dialogue with the role-players in the firearms fraternity, including dealers, gunsmiths, hunters, sport shooters, collectors and others.
Fouché claimed that the police constantly changed procedures without consulting stakeholders and without even disclosing those changes, making for an extremely complex and inefficient regulatory environment.
“This complex vacuum increases the chance of firearm owners and firearm dealers inadvertently contravening the law,” he said.
Fouché said the association does not condone criminal activity, but must highlight that simple, clear, understandable processes were easy to implement within the firearm control environment.
He said the firearms registry had lost control of firearms and created an environment of extreme “bureaucratic inefficiency” in most aspects of firearms licensing and control.
Gun Free SA director Adèle Kirsten said the presidency should urgently put in place a mechanism to conduct an independent forensic audit of all firearm licences, permits and authorisations issued by the CFR over the past five years (from January 2015).
Kirsten said that it would investigate who was issued with which licence for what purpose. It should include a systematic review of the entire firearms control system to identify both operational and policy gaps to stop rampant and deadly corruption spanning more than a decade.
Kirsten said the Office of the Auditor-General would be best placed to undertake that audit and review.
“Corruption in the national firearms control management system is systemic, widespread, deeply entrenched and deadly,” she said.
She said with more guns available across the country, gun violence had steadily increased. “In 2018, guns replaced knives to become the leading cause of murder in the country.”