Gun Free South Africa has welcomed the African National Congress’s (ANC) announcement that it would seek tougher gun controls laws, following the tragic shooting of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, Senzo Meyiwa. The football star’s murder at the hands of two burglars last weekend has left the South African public in shock, and has led to calls for a change in the country’s firearms control act.
The ANC on Thursday announced their intention to lobby in parliament for a more stringent gun control law, with the aim of combating the rise in illegal firearms in the country. The announcement also comes in response to the shooting of ANC MP, Jackson Mthembu, nearly two weeks ago.
Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat on Friday morning, Gun Free SA chairperson, Alan Story, expressed his satisfaction with the ANC’s declaration. He noted that since the country’s firearms control act was promulgated in the early 2000’s, the number of individuals shot and killed using a gun had virtually halved. Despite this, the country was over the last few years experiencing a notable spike in gun related deaths.
“We welcome the strengthening of the legislation, and we believe that we do have very good legislation in the country. We need to however make sure that the legislation is implemented in the way that it was intended,” he said.
Should the issue be addressed in Parliament as expected, Story said it was imperative that all possible changes be “data and evidence based”. From there, government would then need to look at how to restrict and limit those weapons from leaking into “unwanted hands”.
“Crime and mortuary data shows that hand guns are used in the overwhelming majority of gun crime in the country. So it’s handguns that we need to be focusing on,” he stressed.
The recent hike in high profile shootings in the country has also brought to light, concerns over the high number of illegal firearms in the country. Story said that statistics from the police had narrowed this to three main reasons. These were the smuggling of guns from neighboring countries, the loss and theft of guns from licensed owners, and the fraud and corruption within the firearm licensing system.
“What we are trying to show is that there is a very thin line between a legal and illegal gun. If we are serious about gun control and bringing down gun crime, we have to deal with hand guns and stop those leaks,” he said.
He added that should the ANC go through with plans to pursue tight legislation, a complete review of the firearm licensing system would be needed. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)