This week the High Court in Pretoria found the sections of the Firearms Act related to firearm license renewal unconstitutional; if a person failed to reapply more than 90 days from the date of expiry, they would be deemed to be in unlawful possession of a firearm.
Parliament has been given 18 months to amend the legislation to ensure constitutional compliance.
The CEO of the Hunters and Game Conservation Association, Fred Camphor explains how the section in question offered no remedy to the late application.
In essence, the act does not allow you to become the legal owner of a firearm again. The moment that license has lapsed and you have not applied in time for the renewal of a license.— Fred Camphor, CEO of the Hunters and Game Conservation Association
If you go beyond the 90 days you are too late and if it lapses you are in illegal possession of a firearm.— Fred Camphor, CEO of the Hunters and Game Conservation Association
We have examples of people that have applied as long as five years after the license has lapsed, those were taken by police and the licenses were issued.— Fred Camphor, CEO of the Hunters and Game Conservation Association
He further explains why a decision by former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane in February last year was irrational.
Phahlane issued a directive that firearm owners who applied for renewals after expiry of their licences were in illegal possession and had to surrender their firearms to the police for destruction.
The police unilaterally made decisions on the implementation of the act which the act does not allow them to do.— Fred Camphor, CEO of the Hunters and Game Conservation Association
This court judgment has done two things, it has declared section 24 and 28 of the act that rules the renewal process and the cancellation of firearms licenses unconstitutional and has given parliament 18 months to amend the act to meet the requirements of constitutionality.— Fred Camphor, CEO of the Hunters and Game Conservation Association
It has declared all licenses that have already lapsed as deemed to be valid until at least the date when the Constitutional Court reviews the decision of the High Court.— Fred Camphor, CEO of the Hunters and Game Conservation Association
The South African Police Service says however, it will keep all the firearms surrendered by people who failed to renew their licenses until the matter is concluded.
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This article first appeared on 702 : What the High Court Firearms Act ruling means for gun owners