Gun Policy Briefs

Sunday, 14 February 2021 14:50

BRIEFING 1 of 2021: The firearms amnesty has ended, does SAPS know where the guns are?

Three days before the 2020-21 national firearms amnesty ended, the SAPS reported that just 40,729 firearms had been handed in, either for destruction or by gun owners with expired licences applying for new licences. Assuming that all the firearms handed in had expired licences, this is only 9% of the 450,000+ firearms which the Supreme Court of Appeal estimated were in illegal possession due to licence non-renewal when it upheld the constitutionality of firearm licence renewals days before the amnesty began. Briefing 1 explores what happens now that the amnesty has ended and was developed for a Portfolio Committee on Police meeting scheduled for 16 February at which the SAPS will be reporting on the amnesty. It includes key questions SAPS needs to answer to explain why the amnesty yielded such a poor response and what it plans to do to recover illegal guns and deal with gun owners in illegal possession as a result of licence expiry.
Wednesday, 25 November 2020 09:23

BRIEFING 3 of 2020: QUICK FACTS - Guns and violence in SA

The Covid 19 pandemic has made 2020 a year of numbers as we track the number of new infections, hospitalisations, deaths, recoveries.

As such, it seems apt that our third and final Briefing of 2020 is also filled with numbers – quick facts and stats on guns and violence in South Africa.

To reduce gun violence, we need to reduce the easy availability of guns. As the statistics in Briefing 3 show, between 2000 and 2010 gun-related murders halved in South Africa, which research has linked to a range of gun control interventions during this time. However, in 2010/11, SA’s murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery rates began increasing. At the same time evidence of the Firearms Control Act not being properly implemented began mounting.

As the number of guns began increasing so did incidents of gun violence.

Currently 23 people are shot and killed every day in South Africa. Currently 138 people survive a gunshot, often with severe disabilities, every day in South Africa.

Imagine if this were halved?

Wednesday, 07 October 2020 12:46

BRIEFING 2 of 2020: Implications of Supreme Court of Appeal judgement upholding firearm licence renewals

On 23 July 2020 the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) set aside an egregious interdict granted by the North Gauteng High Court which disabled South Africa’s firearm licence renewals and termination system. In its ruling the SCA affirmed that gun ownership is not a fundamental right under SA’s Bill of Rights, but a privilege regulated by the Firearms Control Act; that an expired firearm licence cannot be renewed; and that a firearm licence that has terminated is no longer valid, which means the firearm is in illegal possession and the owner risks imprisonment.

The SCA estimates that there are more than 450,000 firearms for which licences have terminated due to non-renewal. This number is likely much higher as a result of a misinformation campaign that actively encouraged firearm owners to not renew their firearm licences in time.

Briefing 2 of 2020 documents the process leading up to the SCA ruling on firearm licence renewals, unpacks the implications of the ruling and identifies practical actions to be taken by SAPS to deal with the pool of firearms in illegal possession due to non-renewal.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020 14:13

Briefing 1 of 2020: How South Africa can help silence the guns in Africa

When South Africa assumed chairing the African Union (AU) for 2020 last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa prioritised the AU’s Silencing the Guns agenda as a strategy to creating conducive environments for Africa’s development.

Our president’s championing of the Silencing the Guns agenda contrasts sharply with our national context as was tragically illustrated this past weekend when seven people were killed, and another seven injured in a shooting in Khayelitsha.

Being a mass shooting (generally defined as involving four or more people, excluding the shooter) it made the headlines. In contrast, the vast majority of daily gun violence is unreported in the media.

While we do not know the names and the stories of most individual gun violence victims, a range of data show that the number of people that are shot and killed in South Africa has been steadily increasing from 2010.

As of February 2019, our murder rate is three times higher than Africa’s average rate. South Africa also has one of the biggest gun stockpile levels on the continent and is the largest exporter and importer of small arms and light weapons in Africa.

Using these indicators, this Briefing tracks how South Africa is impeding the Silencing the Guns agenda and identifies concrete actions we can take to lead the AU with sincerity and materially contribute to achieving Africa’s ambition of Silencing the Guns on the continent.

Wednesday, 06 November 2019 16:16

Briefing 6 of 2019: Firearms amnesties - Four key factors for success

Yesterday’s announcement by the Gauteng Department of Health that gunshots have overtaken motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of non natural death in the province underscores how urgently action is needed to reduce the availability of guns in South Africa.

The chance of being shot is not random. For someone to be shot, there must be a gun. When guns are controlled and less available, fewer shootings happen and lives are saved.

As such we commend recent efforts by government to reduce the availability of guns, such as yesterday’s destruction of 23,000 firearms.

Depending on how they are undertaken, firearms amnesties also have significant potential to recover guns and save lives.

On 23 October the Portfolio Committee on Police (PCOP) approved an application from the Ministry of Police to hold a six month firearms amnesty starting on 1 December.

Briefing 6 of 2019 answers three questions asked at the PCOP meeting of 23 October:
1. Are amnesties an effective strategy to reduce illegally-held guns?
2. Can the police be trusted to oversee the 2019/20 amnesty?
3. Is there enough time to prepare?

Drawing on lessons learned from South Africa’s own experience of holding amnesties as well as other countries’ experience, Briefing 6 identifies four key factors that will contribute to the success of the 2019/20 amnesty.

In sum, it shows that: 1) a no-questions-asked amnesty, 2) that coincides with the full implementation of sections 24 and 28 of the Firearms Control Act (which require gun owners to regularly renew their firearm licences or forfeit guns for which licences have expired), 3) overseen by independent monitors, and 4) underpinned by a comprehensive communication campaign will help put in place conditions to recover and destroy as many guns as possible.

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