Thousands of lives saved

The Firearms Control Act of 2000 (FCA) – the product of many years of lobbying and struggle – can be regarded as a major victory for those individuals and organisations that battled for greater gun control, having saved thousands and thousands of lives.

Since the FCA was passed into law, South Africa’s mortality profile has changed significantly, supporting increasing global recognition that strengthening national firearm laws is one of the most effective ways to reduce gun-related deaths.

In 1998, 12,298 people were shot and killed, averaging 34 people a day.  Ten years later this figure has halved, with 6,428 people shot and killed in 2009, averaging 18 people a day.

Data from South Africa’s National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS) – a partnership between the Medical Research Council, the UNISA Institute for Social and Health Sciences and the national Department of Health – shows that there has been a substantial decrease in firearm homicides relative to non-firearm homicides in South Africa’s major cities, with firearms decreasing as a contributing cause in the 4 cities included in the study:

  • Cape Town, from a peak of 49% in 2002 to 33% in 2007.
  • Durban, from 60% in 2001 to 44% in 2007.
  • Johannesburg, from 69% in 2001 to 48% in 2007.
  • Pretoria, from 60% in 2001 to 44% in 2007.

A comparison of the NIMSS’ data between 2002 and 2008 (which is the latest year for which data is available) shows that:

  • In 2002: 29% of non-natural deaths in SA were from firearms, 14.5% were from sharp force injuries and 11.5% were transport related accidents in which pedestrians were killed.
  • In 2008: 13.6% of deaths were from sharp force injuries, 10.8% were from firearms and 9.8% involved pedestrians killed in transport related accidents.

The findings of the most recent intimate femicide study show that the number of women killed by their intimate partner has dropped from 4 women a day in 1999 (translating into one woman being killed every six hours) to 3 women a day (so every 8 hours) in 2009.  The reason for this drop in intimate femicide is because of a decline in the number of women that were shot and killed compared to deaths by other means, including stab and blunt injuries.  The researchers attribute this decrease to the implementation of the FCA.

A voice for the unarmed majority

GFSA is the only organisation in South Africa focussing specifically on reducing and preventing gun violence through legislative reform and social mobilisation.  Since being established in 1994, GFSA has remained a vital and vocal voice for the unarmed majority, helping contribute to overall safety and security in South Africa.

During the drafting of the South African Constitution, which is recognised worldwide for its pioneering approach to human rights, GFSA activists lobbied hard to ensure that gun ownership is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, but a privilege granted by the state that can be revoked at any time.