The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in July overruled an interdict preventing police from demanding that all gun owners, whose licences expired, surrender their firearms to the state.
This means that 436 366 gun owners, whose licences expired, have been stripped from the protection they had from being pursued by the SA Police Service, News24 reported.
There are 1.7 million licensed firearm owners, who have firearms for self-defence and their licences have not expired.
Gun Owners of SA (GOSA) told news24 “the judgment – while scathing – is not the end of the road”, but did not indicate how it plans to challenge the ruling.
“Our legal team will report soon with an analysis of the judgment and our proposed route forward for expired licence holders,” GOSA said in a statement.
What does the ruling by the SCA mean for gun owners?
Nortje said the order effectively means that a firearm licence comes to an end on the last day of its validity in terms of the Firearms Act.
“A new firearms amnesty is on the cards for the period between 1 August and 31 January 2021. Gun owners should [therefore] be encouraged by GOSA to hand in any unlicensed firearms,” Nortje said.
Nortje said although the right to defend yourself, others and your property is important, one must remember that gun ownership is not a fundamental human right under our Constitution, but should rather be viewed as a privilege in accordance with the Firearms Act.
“It is therefore important for gun owners to be in possession of a valid firearms licence.”
It is understandable that many gun owners, who possess illegal firearms, are hesitant to return their firearms and feel that they might be a victim of future crime, he said.
“However, it is recommended that they return their unlicensed firearms to SAPS.
“It is also important for SAPS to win back the trust of the society, establish a dedicated programme dealing with the return of unlicensed firearms and properly serve and protect its people.”
Maphosa said the ruling means that gun owners whose licences expired will be required to surrender their firearms and the SAPS has the statutory authority to demand this.
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