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Sat Jan 31 02:46:01 CAT 2015

Toy guns won't be fun in public

PREGA GOVENDER | 04 September, 2011 01:13
Toy gun. File photo

People carrying toy guns, knives or paintball guns in public to protect themselves could face fines or be jailed for up to three years.

These proposals are contained in the draft Dangerous Weapons Bill which was gazetted on Friday for public comment.

The proposed legislation - drawn up by a task team of officials from the departments of Justice and Safety and Security - is intended to replace the Dangerous Weapons Act which, they say, is outdated.

According to the gazette, criminals used weapons such as knives but also replica firearms indistinguishable from real guns.

The bill lays down penalties for those unable to provide a reasonable explanation for carrying these weapons.

The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, will decide which weapons will be banned from being carried in public.

When and where the owner is found; the person's behaviour and how the weapon is carried will all be taken into account.

The defence that the weapon is being carried for protection will not be accepted if it poses a danger to people in public.

Johannesburg gunsmith Bruce Wentzel said the proposals were "too vague", as they didn't stipulate which weapons would be forbidden in public.

But Alan Storey, the chairman of Gun Free South Africa, said his organisation welcomed the ban on carrying replica firearms.

"The fact that anyone can walk into a shopping mall or flea market and walk out with a replica firearm is ludicrous," he said. "These should be illegal, especially in a country ... that has such a high incidence of gun violence ..."

Jenny Irish-Qhobosheane, who heads the civilian oversight body which advises Mthethwa on policy issues, said it was well known that imitation firearms were used by criminals.

"The issue is not that you can't have it at your home but you can't carry it in public. How does one know whether the person is carrying it for personal protection or to commit a crime?"

Irish-Qhobosheane said the bill was aligned with the constitution and the Firearms Control Act.


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