New gun law will contribute to GBV, says NGO
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Cape Town - Gun Owners South Africa’s Girls on Fire organisation says the passing of the Firearms Control Amendment Bill will be a significant contributor to a second pandemic of gender-based violence.
Founding member of the organisation, Lynette Oxley, said this during the DA’s Gun Summit on Tuesday. The summit, which was brought forward by DA MP Andrew Whitfield, comes as the opposition party is opposed to the bill, which scraps self-defence as a reason to qualify for a gun licence.
Civil society organisations, academia, interest groups and members of the public shared the same sentiments, saying they are opposed to the bill.
Oxley said women are the most vulnerable and carry the added burden of being responsible for the security of their children.
“Suddenly we are totally defenceless in terms of what is happening if we can’t defend ourselves. If you look at Girls on Fire, we believe that responsible firearm ownership provides a woman with an empowering mind-set. We want to emotionally, mentally and physically train women not to be victims, by providing them with the means to legally defend themselves, their children and their families.”
The draft bill was published by the Civilian Secretariat of Police in May.
Dries van Coller, chief executive of the Professional Hunter’s Association of South Africa, said their association has people waiting for firearms for two years.
“How do you perform your daily functions if you cannot even get the tools to do it? The restrictions are just astronomical and it makes it impossible to perform functions. How do we tell our staff that we can’t perform to capacity because of the restrictions in place? It’s not our hunting rifles which are causing problems. Our farmers’ safety is also at stake. Who looks after them? The police cannot respond fast enough to get to these remote areas and yet they want to implement laws that restrict you from looking after yourself.”
Police Minister Bheki Cele was invited to attend the summit, but never responded to the invitation. His spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said: “Minister Cele will not be taking part in this summit. He would much rather take part in a multiparty discussion that affords other political parties and not just a single party (the chance) to have this discussion.”
Whitfield opened the summit by saying that, besides being opposed to the self-defence aspect, the party believes there are other issues with the bill, including the impact on the hunting fraternity, private security and gun collectors, who are the cultural custodians of firearms in the country.
“We are fundamentally opposed to it. We believe it is an ill-considered piece of legislation. There are other options to deal with the problems it purports to try to address,” he said.
Whitfield and the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, were at loggerheads about the hosting of the summit as Joemat-Pettersson said the DA was attempting to politicise the matter.
The public has until July 4 to comment on the bill.