Has the firearms control act succeeded in bringing down lives lost to gun violence?
As the race issue took centre-stage this week, a group of youth experienced racism first hand, and were even confronted with a fire-arm whilst holidaying in Knysna over the past week.
The group was allegedly confronted by a local who threatened them, saying that he did not know what people of colour were capable of.
With the crime rate high and the level of gun violence out of control, Gideon Joubert, a member of the Gun Owners of South Africa Executive Committee, says the firearms control act has not succeeded in bringing down lives lost to gun violence.
Until 2003, firearms were the leading cause of homicide in South Africa. Over the last five years however, more people have died as a result of stab wounds, than from gunshots.
“The firearms control act of 2000 was only implemented in 2004 and the only data available suggests that the homicide rate declined before the act was actually enacted,” Joubert explained.
“Once the firearms control act came into force we saw a levelling out of the homicide rate, then it subsequently increased thereafter.”
The Firearm Control Act 60 of 2000, together with amendments and regulations forms the legal framework for gun ownership in South Africa. All current firearms owners, approximately 2.6 to 3 million according to the SA Central Firearm Registry (which is less than 6% of the population), are required by the Act to re-register their firearms.
Joubert says that the high crime rate in South Africa might in itself create a demand for firearms.
“In a situation where crime pays, the perpetrators would like to get their hands on the tools of the trade,” Joubert added.
Those who own firearms are advised to be cautious and Joubert says that the testing that gun owners have to go through before purchasing a firearm is extensive and if you can pass that you should have the knowledge required to be a competent firearm owner.
With regards to the South African government tightening its controls on gun violence, Joubert mentions that stricter controls won’t make a difference.
“South Africa has very strict rules with regards to fire-arms already, far stricter than many European countries have. Two BRICCS countries have relaxed their firearms laws because they have realised that the crime rates are way too high and firearms give its citizens the ability to protect themselves,” Joubert continued.
Owning a firearm is highly dangerous so the public is advised to follow all the procedures and regulations when licensing their weapon. Furthermore, like in the above case the weapon should not be used to threaten youth who do not fit their racial profile. VOC (Umarah Hartley)