In July 2017, the Gauteng High Court declared two sections (Section 24 and Section 28) of the Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000) unconstitutional and ruled that all firearm licences that expired or were due to expire, would be deemed valid until the Constitutional Court has reviewed the constitutionality of Sections 24 and 28.
Parliament was given 18 months to amend the Act to meet the constitutional imperatives. A cost order has also been granted in favour of the applicant.
The SAPS then appealed, and the appeal will be heard in the Constitutional Court on 8 February 2018.
In this context, many firearm owners are unsure what they should do if their licenses have expired.
Bernu van den Heever of Legally Armed answers that there is nothing that can be done before the court case is concluded in February. “It is our expectation that the result of the case will be that a time period is given during which all overdue firearm renewals must be done; but we have to wait and see.”
In the meantime, said Van den Heever, it is crucially important that all firearm owners renew their competency certificates. “Be proactive and get your house in order. Don’t allow an expired competency certificate to further complicate your firearm licensing process. It is an easy administrative process that should not be postponed.”
Regarding the future of firearm ownership in SA, Van den Heever says it will be wise to register with a club or hunting federation. “It is getting increasingly difficult to get new licenses and the more you do to prove that you are actively using your firearms, the easier it will be to get new firearms and licences.” According to Van den Heever, the industry is very strong and will continue to be in the long run. “The Firearms Control Act is actually very well written and must just be well controlled also.” – Marike Brits, AgriOrbit