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Amnesty Period For Expired Gun Licenses Extended To January 31

The new firearm amnesty period has been extended to January 31, and owners have been urged to take advantage of the period by handing in their firearms and ammunition either for destruction or renewal of a competency certificate and a valid licence.

Police spokesperson Brenda Muridili said the previous amnesty period – December to May – was thwarted by the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic. Despite that, police received 46 714 firearms, she said.

Confederation of Hunting Associations of South Africa (Chasa) chief executive Stephen Palos said it was compulsory to hand in the firearm/s and that the application is for a “new” licence on the SAPS 271 form, and not the renewal form.

“Should your competency require renewal too, there is specific provision that this can be done simultaneously as a result of the settlement of a court action brought earlier this year by NatShoot, and supported by Chasa and others,” Palos said.

Activist Colin Bosman said when looking at the number of expired gun licences and with estimates that there could be as many as 500 000 it meant close to half a million law-abiding gun owners neglected for whatever reason to renew their licences on time.

Bosman said on the balance of probability most owners simply forgot. “Existing legislation allows no avenue for renewing expired licences without handing these weapons in for ballistic testing and destruction or ballistic testing and reapplication for a new licence from scratch in order to reclaim that firearm back from within a system that the police themselves have conceded is in a shambles.”

He said the authorities claimed more than 45 000 guns were handed in for destruction during the last amnesty. “It’s to be assumed that they were ballistically tested for crimes committed prior to destruction. The question was, how many of these handed-in guns were involved in a crime? The answer would be none.”

He said authorities were very quiet on that point, “not a peep out of them on a single positive test. The reason is that criminals don’t hand guns in, they simply recycle them”.

Gun Free SA researcher Claire Taylor called on Police Minister Bheki Cele and the National Police Commissioner to urgently strengthen actions to recover and destroy unwanted, obsolete and illegally held guns as soon as possible, including holding a national firearms amnesty and vigorously undertaking crime-intelligence operations.

Taylor said they should also review and upgrade weapons storage and destruction facilities to prevent loss and theft.

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