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Working draft of the firearms amendment Bill 2014

25-Nov-2014

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21 November 2014

Director Amichand Soman                                    Per E-mail: somana@saps.gov.za

Dear Director

RE: WORKING DRAFT OF THE FIREARMS AMENDMENT BILL, 2014

The  above  mentioned  document  refers  which  was  first  presented  from  The  Civilian
Secretariat of Police to the SAPS/Hunters Consultative Forum by email at 12h53 Friday 14
November and on-sent to The Confederation of Hunters Associations of South Africa
(CHASA). In the body of the mail from yourself is a request for comment by  12h00
Tuesday 18
th November 2014.   We apologise for this late submission due to circumstances
beyond our control, but respectfully request you still consider this submission.

We will in this response also refer to a presentation regarding the Bill by The Civilian
Secretariat for Police which was already in social media circulation since 16 October and
which was presented to the JCPS DGs Cluster with a date of 7 October on its introduction
page.

The Portfolio Committee presentation excludes CHASA from the list of consulted parties. On perusal of the content however, we recognised that all the matters addressed, save for the clause dealing with a “solution” to the court order validating 1969 act licences, were part of a protracted and thorough consultative process in which we were indeed part of, and we assume our exclusion was a mere oversight.

The draft presented for comment now however, is so fundamentally different in respect of
the technical issues we dealt with on 18 / 19
th October 2011, and includes strange and
onerous additions which have direct and severe bearing on our constituents, that we must
now assume that either there was other consultation which we were excluded from, or in


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the alternative that the consultation process was not in good faith from the side of the SAPS & Secretariat.

In the short time allotted for comment it is impossible to deal properly and conclusively with all the matters arising out of this Bill although we reserve the opportunity to comment further later we urge you at the very least to take into consideration the following prior to presenting the Bill to Cabinet:

Amendments to Section 1:

“Ballistic Sampling” - read with the proposed new Section 30A(1) to (7), new Section 98A and 98B:

Inclusion of a definition for “ballistic sampling/testing” in the definitions under Section 1of the Act, cannot do any harm and would only stem to explain what is meant with the same in reference to situations where Section 114 and 115 of the Act become applicable, but
should be limited to the above.

The inclusion of the new Section 30(A)(1) to (7) however discriminates against legal

firearm owners, to the extent that they are targeted and forced to submit to regular testing of firearms, whilst most of the firearm related crimes are committed by individuals who have no respect for the law with illegal/unlicenced firearms.

There are very specific stipulations contained in Section 114 and 115 of the Firearms
Control Act, 60 of 2000,  regulating to when, where and how “
Ballistic testing” and
Inspection, search and seizure for inquiry” of firearms are allowed, why the need for blanket testing?

Over and above practical and technical problems such testing facilities, time, manpower,

costs & availability of ammunition, costs of updating the Integrated Ballistics Identification System and expertise in accommodating these tests, it needs to be mentioned that similar laws in Maryland and New York, USA have failed completely, notwithstanding the
programs costing the taxpayers in excess of $2,5 million (Maryland) and $4 million (New York), whilst a 2001 report by California state ballistic experts concludes that ballistic
fingerprinting/sampling is not feasible.

The report included the test firing of 2 000 rounds from 790 pistols and when cartridges

fired from the same manufacturer, were test fired and compared computer matching failed 38% of the time while cartridges from different manufacturers failed 62% of the time.

No crimes were solved using this and as a result the Maryland State Police in 2005 actually suggested to the legislature that the law on ballistic fingerprinting be repealed.

Ballistic testing/sampling of smooth bore firearms in itself has limitations.

There is therefore no sound basis for implementing blanket ballistic testing and we believe this should be removed.


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“Brokering Services” -read with the proposed amendments to Section

31(1)(b):

The description of “brokering services” is vague and ambiguous and would include the following:-

-any and all freight forwarders/conveyance/courier service who actually act as

middleman/agents between manufacturers and dealers or between manufacturers and buyers or both, which is normally done for financial gain or cause; and

- Magazines such as Magnum/Wild & Jag/SA Hunter or websites such as

www.guntree.co.za, all of which have advertisements of firearms for sale and as

such could be seen as acting as an intermediary between seller (dealer) and buyer, which is normally done for financial benefit of themselves; and

-any promotion in terms of which a firearm can be won as a prize, because such would be seen as brokering services.

This clause affects sport, hunting and collecting associations directly where it is common practice to acquire firearms either as donations or at preferential pricing for promotional use including fundraising auctions, prizes in lucky draws etc.

Proposed amendments to Section 8:

By including firearms for sport shooting and hunting into the proposed new Section 8(7),
this is understood to mean that even an occasional hunter or sport shooter who is a
member of an accredited association will in future be compelled to file an
endorsement/new section 8(7) verification/old section 16(2) affidavit by chairman when
such member applies for a firearm for sport shooting and/or a firearm for hunting and/or
an authorization to hold more that the prescribed amount of ammunition (200 rounds) (if
the proposed new Section 8(7)(e) refers to an application in terms of Section 91(2)(a)(ii).)

Why the differential treatment of members of accredited associations and non membersfrom the wording of this proposed amendment, it seems as if a non member
citizen/individual/firearm owner need not supply such verification when applying for a firearm for sport shooting or hunting.

Thus the amendment seems to be applicable to members of accredited associations only, whilst in fact members of accredited associations show more responsibility.

Does the proposed new section 8(7) verification replace the old Section 16(2) affidavit or sworn statement by chairman/delegate of accredited hunting or sport shooting association or agreed to endorsements in cases of dedicated hunters/sport shooters?

We propose that the amendment be reworded to “The Chairperson or an authorised ….. may, with regard to an application…”


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The proposed new Section 8(10) allows for written reasons for refusal of an application to be given by the Registrar, but a time constraint needs to be placed on this and the
Registrar. The Registrar should be compelled to file the written notice containing the
reasons for refusal of an application, with the applicant at his given address via
email/fax/prepaid registered post within 21 (TWENTY ONE) days from date of refusal and the alternative methods of delivery of notification such as email/fax should be included as
acceptable forms of delivery of such notice.

Proposed amendments to Section 10:

The proposed amendment to Section 10(2) - The period of validity being a period of 10 (TEN) years is acceptable.

The proposed deletion of Section 10(3) is acceptable under circumstances of Section 10(2)

The proposed new Section 10(4) -which refers to a competency to possess a firearm in a private collection in terms of Section 10(1)(IB) being valid for an application for license to possess a firearm for self defence/occasional hunting/occasional sport shooting, the
following question begs an answer, why not a competency as dedicated hunter/dedicated sport shooter/professional hunter  that would also be valid for self defence, dedicated hunting, dedicated sport shooting and semi automatic rifles and shotguns?

The approach of referring to competency validity in the same clause as ownership type (or
use) totally contradicts one of the cornerstone strengths (and intentions) of the Act. The
precursor to ANY firearm ownership should be vested in Competency. This focuses on the
person (appropriate training, background checks, personality, criminal record etc.) The
training aspect is firearm type specific. The actual ownership of specific firearms is a
separate matter, once the appropriate type of competency is in place and this section is
dealt with in the “use” section with the appropriate motivation and required support
documentation.

The new Section 10(5), which makes further proficiency testing a prerequisite for

application for competency certificate is totally unacceptable and not in line with the Skills Development Act, as individuals who have completed the required SAQA Unit Standards as prescribed and are in possession of a Competency Certificate as issued by the SAPS/CFR are already qualified and competent.

The future costs to be incurred by the individual applicant is also unacceptable. This is in any case in direct opposition to Section 10A(7) of Act 28 of 2006. Proposed amendments to Section 16:

The new Section 16(5) is understood to mean that only a person who has been a dedicated sport shooter for 5 (five) years and has maintained his/her status may apply for a license for a semi automatic rifle and shotgun and in fact excludes a dedicated hunter from
making such an application, notwithstanding and contrary to section 16(2).


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The effect of this would be that an already proven and dedicated hunter or sports shooter is being prohibited from participating in his/her culture and sport, which leaves dedicated status completely redundant.

The proposed new Section 16(6) makes no sense at all and is obviously incorrectly included
in Section 16 or should be reworded to indicate that a dedicated hunter/sportsperson may
also now apply for a license to possess a percussion cap and ball firearm in terms of Section
16(6).

The inclusion of the requirement for a written motivation in support of an application for a percussion cap and ball firearm in terms of the proposed new section 16(6) & (7), creates an exception in that it could be interpreted as excluding the necessity for such motivation in applications for licenses for other types of firearms in terms of section 16 and will thus be interpreted that no written motivation is needed for an application for a license to
possess any other type of firearm.

The proposed new Section 16(7) is understood to actually prescribe in a sense what should be included in the motivation by the applicant, which in itself excludes “authenticity” and “original thought”.

The proposed new Section 16(8) is understood to mean that over and above the sworn

statement or solemn declaration by the chairman of the hunting association or appointed
delegate (the agreed endorsements) in terms of Section 16(2), the application in terms of
Section 16(8) must now also be supported by the chairman or authorised office bearer of
the hunting or sport shooting association, would this now be seen as some form of “super
motivation”?

The new Section 16(9)and (10) places an onus on the dedicated hunter/sports person to
notify the registrar when his status as dedicated hunter/sports person ceases, which is
somewhat contrary to Section 16(4) in terms of which the accredited association informs
and files with the CFR a list of names of persons who has lost their status. There is also an onus on the person to report their “change of circumstances” (Section 26) should they lose
their dedicated status.

Proposed amendment to Section 23:

The new subsection 8 is problematic in that a muzzle loading firearm has to be marked, but the serial number are not to be inscribed on the muzzle loading firearm itself - where then will this marking be done?

If this means that the markings will be made on a separate article and then be affixed to the muzzle loading firearm, this can be interpreted as an alteration to the firearm and prohibited and can legally only be done by a gunsmith.

In this regards see Section 59(d) of the Firearms Control Act, 60 of 2000 that reads -“No
person may, without being the holder of a gunsmith's licence or being registered as an


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apprentice to such holder, alter or remove the serial number or any other identifying mark of a firearm.”

At whose cost will this be done?

Proposed amendment to Section 124:

The new section 124(5)(a) is very misleading as it can be understood to mean that a DFO will now also approve (process) all applications for competency certificates, licenses and authorities.

This should be clearly and properly qualified.

Proposed new Section 124A(1)(b):

It is unacceptable that this only allows for disciplinary steps to be taken against officials for the negligent loss of a firearm, whilst a law abiding citizen is criminally prosecuted.

Loss by any official of an official firearm should also be criminalised.

Inclusion of the section dealing with “Relicensing of firearms” Section 1E:

It is submitted that where there is still a pending Court Application with an Interim Court Order to be dealt with pertaining to the validity of licenses in terms of the Arms and
Ammunition Act, and the inclusion of this section in the Act will be unlawful and an
attempt to circumvent the existing Court Order.

In conclusion

The comments above are by no means as comprehensive as we would like them to be and there are sections of the Bill we do not feel qualified to comment on as they are outside our areas of expertise or interest in terms of firearm ownership.

It is important to note that some of the amendments presented here have obviously been

in the pipeline for a very long time. It is understandable that in the face of incredible public attention as a direct result of recent high profile murder and attempted murder cases,
there is a propensity to be seen to be “doing something” and concluding new legislative
amendments could well be that thing.

It would be foolish however to do so in a rush and create yet more technical as well as
practical problems. Indeed, the whole implementation of the principal Act and its past
amendments have a litany of errors for this very reason, and if this draft is steamrolled
through without proper consideration of the input from those of us it seeks to govern, we
will once again be forced into confrontational actions, including possible litigation and
once more the work done in the recent past to achieve a good working firearm dispensation
will be set back years.


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We remain one of the most compliant and law abiding sectors of the community, reaching out our hand to assist the various organs of state achieve a better life for all.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Palos

CHASA Chairman



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