The Police Minister has defended the draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill which seeks to remove self-defence as a valid reason to own a firearm.
WITH fewer firearms in the hands of individual citizens of the country there would be fewer violent crimes, says Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Cele has defended the draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill which was published recently for public comment, stating that it would help to reduce crime in the country.
One of the more controversial aspects of the bill is that it seeks to remove self-defence as a valid reason to own a firearm.
Cele said the police had received more than 60,000 submissions regarding the bill.
In an interview with the SABC, Cele said the move was based on research showing that countries that don’t give individuals the right to own firearms, had fewer violent crimes.
He said that their research revealed that out of 155,000 firearms on the licensing system between 2000 and 2014, 676 had moved from being legal to illegal (through theft or other circumstances). Another 19,000 could not be traced and were believed to be circulating in illegal markets.
From 2019 to 2020, 596 incidents in which people were injured or killed involved illegal firearms, while 1,334 were committed using legal firearms.
“Out of those 1,334 legal firearms, only 25 of them were from the state, while the others were from the individual citizen. This means that they (the public) have no capacity to ensure that those guns protect rather than injure. If you reduce these guns, you’re reducing violence against the ordinary citizen,” he said.
According to Cele, there are millions of legal firearms in the country but those same firearms became illegal through theft or other circumstances.
Cele added that they were also looking at another aspect of the Firearms Control Act, which allows an individual to have an unlimited number of firearms in their house. He said the ministry wanted to reduce these to at least a maximum of eight firearms.