GEORGE NEWS - South Africans countrywide are up in arms about the latest proposed change to the Firearms Control Act that was released by government on Friday 21 May.
The most prominent concern is that this will have a devastating impact on honest citizens and women who want to protect themselves against criminals.
The draft amendment Bill in Friday's Government Gazette seeks to amend many things, but what has most people seeing red is the proposal that no firearm licences may be issued for self-defence purposes. The bill further regulates the issuing of licenses for hunters, with applicants having to prove that they are engaged in the hobby.
"How many more women need to be slaughtered at the hands of criminals?"
"How many more women have to die without being able to defend themselves?"
"With gender-based violence at its highest and police in a state of crisis failing to keep women safe, this proposed amendment to the Firearms Control Act could be fatal."
"No logic! Must we live in fear - George is getting worse now - and with no security. Does not make sense at all."
"Besides the criminals having a stockpile of illegal weapons they talk about hunting rifles too, so game farms will suffer as well."
These were just some of the comments flying around on social media since Friday. Meanwhile, Dawie van Rooyen, owner of the local shooting range and firearms training academy On Target, was also extremely worried about the impact on the legal firearms industry and the law-abiding citizen.
"The amendments will have a significant impact on the firearms industry, not just financially with gun shops, gunsmiths, training centres, accredited shooting ranges, sport shooting organisations and even the security industry that employ staff and conduct business," he said.
"It will also impact the law-abiding citizen who knows how to legally and safely use his/her firearm to protect their own lives as a first responder to crimes against them in a country with the highest crime rate in the world. The firearms industry brings in millions of rand into our current unstable economy and the proposed changes will have a big financial impact for government in terms of fees and taxes paid in order to possess a firearm," said Van Rooyen.
Fighting the Bill
Various organisations have now stepped into the ring to fight the new proposed Bill. Paratus, a platform that keeps you up to date about the latest developments of the South African gun ownership debate, is one of them.
According to Rouen Heiberg, a member of Paratus and the local Outeniqua Shooting Club, joining these organisations is also a way to counter the misinformation and inaccuracies that circulate regarding firearms and ownership.
"As gun owners we are outraged at the proposed change. However, the most important thing to do now is to follow the old adage of 'cooler heads will prevail'. Be careful of fake news and knee-jerk reactions. Make sure you throw your time and effort behind a legitimate organisation that has some weight and teeth to back up all the barking. I can only hope they will band together and form a strong united front alongside the organisations like Gun Owners of South Africa (Gosa) and SA Arms Dealer Association who have been challenging Government on firearm-related matters for years," said Heiberg.
Government invited comments from the public within the next 45 days. Letters can be sent to Mr M Ntwana via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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