In just a few days thousands of citizens have flooded the government with their comments on the Firearms Control Amendment Bill 2021, showing how strongly people feel about gun ownership and control in the country. 

Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said that more than 17 000 submissions had been received since the bill was published in the Government Gazette for public comment on Friday 21 May 2021.

“Over 17 000 written submissions have been received and this number is growing by the day,” Themba said.

The Firearms Control Amendment Bill 2021 replaces the Firearms Control Amendment Bill 2015 that was submitted to Cabinet six years ago Minister of Police General, Bheki Cele encouraged all citizens to make use of the legislative process that seeks to mould the Firearms Control Bill.

 “The interest and vast number of comments received so far indicates that South Africans are making their voices heard in this matter, we urge the public to continue with this momentum. All comments will be scrutinized and those considered useful will be incorporated to strengthen the provisions of the Bill,” Cele said.

The Firearms Control Amendment Bill 2021 seeks to amend and strengthen the Firearms Control Act 2000 (Act No. 60). The proposed amendments respond to the overarching policy principles of non-proliferation of firearms in South Africa and the strengthening of the processes relating to the applications for firearm and ammunition licenses and the management of firearms and ammunition. 

Cele said that the amendments should not be interpreted as though government was looking into disarming citizens.

“There is no right to bear arms in our Constitution and the Firearm Control Act in its current form grants no such right to citizens either, owning a gun in this country remains a privilege made possible through the Firearms Controls Act,” Cele said.

Cele added that arming citizens would not solve the country’s high crime rate.

“The mere possession of a firearm can lead to increased rates of victimisation—both for the gun owner 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.” Cele said.

Cabinet has also recently approved the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Amendment Bill 2021. The proposed amendments seek to ensure alignment of South African legislation with international requirements, in order to effectively combat terrorist and related activities, including international terrorism.

Both Bills can be accessed on the Civilian Secretariat for the Police’s website www.policesecretariat.gov.za and are open for public comment until the 4 July 2021.

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Presh JM Reporter

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