Firearms Control Amendment Bill [B12-2006]: hearings

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Police

11 August 2006
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
11 August 2006
FIREARMS CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL [B12-2006]: HEARINGS

Chairperson:
Ms M Sotyu (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Institute for Security Studies submission
Hunters Forum submission
Firearms Control Amendment Bill [B12-2006]

SUMMARY
The Committee heard presentations from the Hunters Forum and the Institute for Security Studies on the Amendment Bill [B12-2006]. The discussions focused on the age limit for gun handling, supervision, re-barreling and self-defence as opposed to necessary defence.

MINUTES
The Chairperson noted that only two submissions would be heard and the rest would be heard the following week.

ISS submission
Mr Guy Lamb, Programme Head: Arms Management, stated that there was a need to continue upgrading firearm legislation. There was a need for competency renewing, eye testing and mandatory retraining for firearm owners.

The law should include punitive measures for business people operating throughout Africa. It should include extra-territorial controls, as it may still be possible for a South African broker operating in a foreign country to operate without a licence from the South African government. The ISS stressed the need for renewal of competency certificates and the inclusion of the definition of 'dispossessed' in order to exclude any possible misinterpretation of the word.

Mr Lamb stated that a lack of clear linkages with the National Conventional Arms Control Act and the Firearms Control Act had been hindering the effective implementation of firearms control in South Africa. He spoke about the use of a licensed firearm by a non-licenced holder (Section 22), brokering, powers of search and seizure and the unforeseen consequences of changing definitions.

Discussion
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) asked if South Africa had jurisdiction to effect punitive measures on those brokers operating outside South Africa?

Mr Lamb responded that only those who have South African citizenship and those foreigners working in businesses in South Africa.

Ms J Sosibo (ANC) asked whether ISS was satisfied with the age of eighteen or did they want to suggest something else?

Mr Lamb responded that the age issue was a complex matter and there was a need to have more discussions on this. ISS was just throwing a number by saying 18. It was a number that was there.

Ms A Van Wyk asked about "supervision" in what sense? In the old days a gun owner used to be able to give a letter of consent to somebody carrying their gun to another place and making use of it when necessary. Were we going back to the way things were done under the old legislation?  We should be careful to not be seen to be working backwards. The issue should be flagged for now.

Mr P Groenewald (FF) asked if the ISS had statistics of how many licensed firearms had been used in criminal activities?

Mr Lamb replied that he did not have these statistics.

Hunters Forum submission
Mr Theo Venter, Chairperson of the Hunters Forum, stated that the administrative process needed to be simplified, the firearm owner rather than the firearm should be certified. Existing legally-owned firearms should be audited and owners permitted to keep them. The definition of ‘muzzle loaders’ and ‘immediate supervision’ should be broadened.

The Hunters Forum was of the view that there should be re-barrelling without having to renew licences and the number of rounds in possession increased to 500. Silencers should be regulated, section 8 on the appeals board should be rectified and an additional licensing category, ‘professional hunting’ be created.

Mr Venter stated that there should be no infringement of existing rights granted to firearm owners and that the Act should be applied consistently with the administration thereof being transparent. The forthcoming changes to regulations should be made available simultaneously with those amending the Act, as the Act cannot be viewed in isolation from the regulations. He also stated that the amendments to the Act and Regulations should be supported by a Service Charter, setting minimum standards for service delivery as is done by all other service-oriented state bodies.

Discussion
Mr L Diale (ANC) asked how they allowed people into the Forum?

Ms Van Wyk asked how they foresaw their proposed amendments impacting on the legislation?

Mr M Booi (ANC) asked when talking of administrative burden on SAPS, were they saying that it would be easier to process for them than it would be SAPS? The issue of necessary defence left room for generalisation and remained undefined and broad. With regards to professionalism, SAPS remained most responsible.

Mr Groenewald stated that the process of confiscating guns would cost the government a lot more money. With re-barreling the question of forensic tests remained. How would the Hunters Forum overcome this issue?

Mr Venter responded that the Forum recognized every association that had been previously recognised. They met about once every month. With re-barreling, when you enter this process you would be obliged to take proof shot of the old barrel and send it to forensics. Membership into associations had been voluntary and most were still predominantly white. They were however working hard to try and promote this among people of colour. It was also important to note that hunting rifles were seldom used in crimes and silencers would be looked at purely in terms of training and sports. Self defence meant that one could only protect oneself and if your family were in danger, it would be hard to protect them. This was why the Hunters Forum wanted to change it to necessary defence.

The Chairperson thanked the ISS and the Hunters Forum for their submissions and stated that the committee would consider their contributions.

The meeting adjourned.  

  
 

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