Durban - Many firearm owners do not know about the dynamics that involve their firearm licences, according to security experts.
This comes after the Constitutional Court of South Africa unanimously ruled that Sections 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act were not unconstitutional. This followed the Gauteng High Court declaring these sections unconstitutional on July, 4 2017.
The relevant provision Section 24(1) requires a person to re-apply for a licence more than 90 days before their licence expires, or rather if they have applied more than 90 days before it expires, that their licence will remain valid until its final decision on the Application for Renewal is made.
Kyle van Reenen of Marshall Security said the judgment does not affect the current position that the old green licence remains valid pending the finalisation of that case.
“If they have not applied more than 90 days before then this provision will not apply and their firearm licence will expire on the date set out on their licence. The earlier ruling had provided a lifeline to many licence holders who for various reasons had let their licences expire. Unfortunately, the result of this ruling is that should you fail to renew your licence more than 90 days before and your licence now has expired, that you are in possession of a firearm without a valid licence which is a criminal offence which could be punishable by fine or imprisonment of up to 15 years,” he said.
He said gun owners cannot hand their firearms to a dealer as they are unlicensed and a dealer cannot take them. They would have to be handed over to the police to be destroyed.
“We therefore recommended that you all check the expiry dates on your firearm licences and ensure that you remember to apply well in advance of the 90 day period,” he said.