Gun law bill will help vulnerable women in GBV situations: Bheki Cele
Police minister Bheki Cele’s office on Tuesday disclosed that 17,000 comments have been received regarding the proposed changes to SA’s gun laws.
The outpouring of written submissions come after the Firearms Control Amendment Bill was published in the government gazette on Friday.
“The interest and vast number of comments received so far indicates South Africans are making their voices heard in this matter,” said Cele.
The mere possession of a firearm can lead to increased rates of victimisation, both for the gunowner and those living in the household.Police minister Bheki Cele
“We urge the public to continue with this momentum. All comments will be scrutinised and those considered useful will be incorporated to strengthen the provisions of the Bill.”
The police ministry said the rationale behind the proposed changes are to respond to the overarching policy principles of non-proliferation of firearms in SA, and the strengthening of the processes relating to applications for firearm and ammunition licences and the management of firearms and ammunition.
The amendments should not be interpreted as though the government is looking to disarm citizens, said Cele.
“There is no right to bear arms in our constitution and the Firearms Control Act in its current form grants no such right to citizens. Owning a gun in this country remains a privilege made possible through the Firearms Control Act.”
Cele said arming citizens won’t solve the country’s high crime rate.
“The mere possession of a firearm can lead to increased rates of victimisation, both for the gunowner and those living in the household.
“Simply put, this proposed change in law also has the potential to mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of women who are in the clutches of their abusers inside their own homes,” said Cele.
The ministry said the cabinet has also approved the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Amendment Bill. The proposed amendments seek to ensure alignment of SA legislation with international requirements to effectively combat terrorist and related activities, including international terrorism.
Both bills “are key to a safer SA and the world”, said the ministry.
The bills can be accessed on the Civilian Secretariat for Police website and are open for public comment until July 4.