Submission - FCA amendments

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Submission - FCA amendments

Postby crimefree » Thu, 2006-07-27 13:43

This is part of my submision and can be used to countrer arguments on aspects of the FCA

Other views (Martin Hood - SAGA) can be found in Man/Magnum July and Aug 2006



It is time to pause and ask: If gun laws are expected to work to prevent criminal violence, have they actually done so? Politicians promise that tightening up on gun regulations will reduce criminal violence and make society safer. Some even claim outright that gun regulations will reduce suicide rates. But do they? Do increased restrictions upon the ownership of firearms reduce homicide rates? Armed robbery rates? Criminal violence in general? Suicide rates? In short, do firearm regulations act to create a safer society as claimed by their supporters? If laws restricting the ownership of guns are supposed to reduce violent crime, then this must be demonstrated to be true or gun control is no more than a hollow promise. -- The Failed Experiment. Gun Control and Public Safety in Canada, Australia, England and Wales, Prof. Gary A. Mauser

Incompetence of the SAPS to implement the Firearms Control Act.

The Portfolio Committee needs to be reminded of facts which have not been previously presented but greatly influence the viability of the Firearm Control Act to perform any of the aims identified in the Act preamble.

In more than 18 months the SAPS have not been able to address and resolve the complexity and workload imposed by the FCA. This is not surprising in light of the experience of many countries like Britain, Canada, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand, which the SAPS simply cannot be unaware of. What is surprising is every time the SAPS were asked to answer the problem they have not admitted to their inability to implement the FCA. It is always claimed that they are ready and able, yet 18 months later there can be no denying the proof of this inability to implement an overly complex ideological nightmare of gun controls pipe dreams.

With a very low response to relicensing, the system is completely bogged down. From outstanding appeals and licence applications that date back more than 2 years, to the few that have relicensed in the first period little has been processed. Dealers wait for lengthy periods to get dealers licences approved. 66% of firearms dealers have been put out of business and many thousands of unemployed added to the growing problem of dissatisfaction with government policy.

In short the SAPS have lied consistently to government structures and in the Pretoria High Court were the SAPS claimed to be ready while knowing that the unit standards for competency certificates had not even been drawn up or finalised.

Nor can the SAPS claim ignorance of the cost, manpower, systems and workload they would require because this was pointed out during the drafting and submission stages of the Act.

Further, the SAPS are misleading Parliament and the public with claims that the FCA will serve some crime fighting purpose. As this submission will prove no such claim can be made nor have the SAPS produced any evidence that the FCA will serve any useful purpose. Whilst the SAPS may claim to have some evidence that the FCA has a useful purpose no such evidence has ever been made public. The Minister of Safety and Security has been requested to provide this evidence and even an instruction from the President of South Africa has been ignored by Safety and Security who have not even responded to the request. Such evidence if it existed would be a world first, which under the circumstances is very unlikely. The SAPS claim has no verifiable validity. The SAPS and Safety and Security have lied again to cover up the incompetence of both to implement the large number of near impossible requirements of the Firearms Control Act.

It is therefore imperative that the Portfolio Committee ensure the Safety of the public by requesting proof and ensuring that any proof given is valid by checking with peer reviewed research of the validity of every requirement of licensing a firearm. Any useless, senseless and purposeless requirement is simply a deliberate impediment placed in the Act to act as a deterrent to ownership and an aid to ultimate disarmament.

Unproven requirements of the Firearms Control Act.


In order to use a registry to “link” a crime gun to a particular criminal all of the following things must be true:
* the gun must be left behind at the scene of the crime, or otherwise recovered;
* the gun must be linked to the crime by being found at the scene or by ballistic evidence;
* the criminal must have registered the gun, using his true name and identity;
* the gun was not stolen, which would break the link between gun and owner leaving the criminal unidentified; and
* the criminal who was the registered crime gun’s owner did not claim that the gun had been stolen or lost prior to the crime.

The Canadian experience indicates a cost benefit ratio less than 0.015 of 1% for registration. That is R150 for every R1 million spent, a return that can only be described as a complete and utter waste.

There is absolutely no doubt that criminals do not register their firearms. For the CFR to work it requires that criminals both register their firearms and leave them behind at the crime scene. It should be noted that criminals thus far have not been stupid enough to comply with these requirements.

The provisions of this legislation are far over and above that of Canada and there is no doubt that implementation of this requirement will become a very large stone around governments short of funds neck. It is doubtful that even 0.001% of crime will be solved by this idealistic recording. Many policemen will be removed from normal police duty and many police man-hours will be wasted in recording, checking and bureaucratic paperwork that will not bring criminals to justice.

Such a structure gobbles up enormous amounts of money better spent on tried and tested effort to reduce crime. The Canadian experience of complete failure and a budget overspent by more that 1000 times should be painfully prominent in the minds of Safety and Security and the SAPS. The waste by CFR of resources and funds can hardly be unknown to both SAPS and Safety and Security.

It is ridiculous and fraudulent to claim that South Africa has "studied" the problem and has a solution that will work. The civil servants of South Africa cannot be expected to be better than their Canadian counterpart. The designers of the Canadian computer system are not going to be bettered by a South African or other company considering that the SA register is more than 10 times as complex as the Canadian register. The South African register is bound to fail; there is no other outcome that can be forecast.

Experience in other countries shows that passive resistance to firearm registration is widespread (Kopel, 1992). The recent dismal response to relicensing exhibits all the traits of passive resistance to laws the public reject as invasive, intrusive, unwarranted police powers of expediency and increased militarisation.

There is no doubt that registration is an expensive waste of police resources that diverts many police offices from delivering a crime fighting service. Registration serves an insignificant crime fighting purpose or public safety purpose. The only purpose of an unconstitutional firearm register is to give government a list of owners and firearms to confiscate. The public and firearm owners are well aware of this fact and see the dangers of disarmament by government that registration makes so easy.

Notably England, Australia, Brazil, Canada and New Zealand have conducted research on registration and all without fail have determined that registration is not a viable police activity and serves no police purpose. The research of England (Chief Insp. Colin Greenwood of the West Yorkshire Constabulary)[19], Australia - (Chief Inspector, Registrar of Firearms), A. Newgreen[20] and (Senior Sergeant), S. W. Waterman[21] and the New Zealand police have been conducted by the police themselves who are hardly likely to determine an unfavourable result if registration was a viable police activity in rendering a service to the public.

[19] Colin Greenwood (Chief Insp, West Yorkshire)

Can the task of Registration be effectively carried out.

The research carried out in relation to the viability of firearm registration strongly indicates that the exercise is costly, inaccurate and ineffective. This is borne out by the fact that it has been abandoned in such places as New Zealand and in very recent times about to be abandoned in South Australia. One of foremost authorities on British Firearms Legislation the former Chief Inspector Colin Greenwood had this to say in relation to registration:-
"Careful examination of the evidence available suggests therefore Legislation has failed to bring under control substantial numbers of firearms and that it certainly cannot be claimed that strict controls have reduced the number of firearms in crime. On the basis of these facts it might be argued that firearms registration has little effect and don't justify the amount of-police time involved."

[20] A. Newgreen (Chief Inspector, Registrar of Firearms, Victoria.)

27. If one is to achieve a proper balance, I am of the opinion that the Firearms Act should

(a) Repress the criminal and irresponsible use of firearms ;
(b) Look after the public interest ; and
(c) Not place harsh restrictions on responsible and mature sports shooters, whilst at the same time educating the public, particularly Juniors, in the safe use and handling of firearms.

I do not believe registration is the answer to the problem.

I would therefore recommend that Firearms Registration be forthwith abolished, and together with the Firearms Consultative Committee a far reaching, effective, and proper system of education be introduced, as a pre-requisite to the obtaining of a shooter's licence.

[21]S. W. Waterman (Senior Sergeant 15548 Victoria)

Reason Why No Controls
Although some members of the community expressed concern at the lack of firearm legislation, members of the Australian Firearm Law Institute conducted a comparison test between Queensland, West Australia and the Northern Territory who have had licensing and registration procedures dating back to 1950. West Australia was selected because it has the longest history of restrictive legislation in Australia. It was found after comparing the three states, two with severe restrictions on firearms and the other with almost no restrictions that there was very little difference between them and that in almost every component Queensland fared slightly better. On this basis alone it was decided not to introduce licensing shooters or registration. (15)

The same survey showed that if the Queensland Government were to introduce licensing of firearm owners and register those firearms then they would effectively require a further 282 personnel and that the total cost of implementing such a scheme would be in excess of six million dollars. The Government felt that to introduce such a scheme would reduce the effective strength of the Police Force by 6½ per cent. The Government concluded that in Queenslands case it was not cost effective to introduce restrictive firearms legislation.

Ref (15) Firearms Control. Carl G. Vandal. Australian Firearm Law Institute 1984, reprint. p.7.


Canadian department of Justice officials admitted that they could not identify a single instance where handgun registration helped solved a crime (Hansard, 1995, p. 12,259). The RCMP has repeatedly (e.g., in 1945, 1977, 1990) recommended against attempting to register long guns such as rifles and shotguns (Smithies, 1998)


A very recent report by Lancashire Police reveals that the current system is so riddled with problems that its officers had to abandon a pilot scheme for the National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS) last year.

In a letter from Lancashire police to the Association of Chief Police Officers' firearms working group, obtained by the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, the system is described as having "persistent and immense problems" and "delays of a magnitude which could not be reasonably expected".

The seven-page letter, which details dozens of other "significant problems", says: "Lancashire Constabulary felt unable to complete the NFLMS pilot at this present time. It is fundamentally flawed and not fit for purpose."

It is time Government took notice of this identified waste of police resources and public money while the SAPS are understaffed and starved of every resource they need for crime investigation and the arrest of criminals. Unless the mantra of gun control is followed, that no expense is to high a price to pay for the removal of guns from society. Government must be aware that a large part of that price to be paid is the lives and well being of citizens. It is also an abdication of government to do its fiduciary duty of ensuring a safe and secure environment.


* CFR must divulge the cost benefit ratio of the firearms register.

* Government and the SAPS have no evidence to show that registration serves any useful purpose. Registration is a huge waste of both money and resources. Until such time as it can be shown to be economically viable and serve a crime fighting purpose in line with its costs the SAPS registration of firearms should cease.

* The Central Firearms Register which is so inaccurate as to be near useless should be scrapped and not upgraded at an expense of some R2180 million which is desperately needed in other areas of policing.

Training and competency testing

A test for the necessity of training and testing would be a large significant number of
Accidental firearms deaths. The figure for such deaths in South Africa is low and less than 15 per year. (Stats SA 1999, 10 deaths, NIMMS reports 2000..2003) This figure pales into insignificance when compared by the number of deaths by drowning in swimming pools and by ingestion of paraffin.

As tragic as firearm accidents are and given the media hype out of all proportion to significance it is not economical to harass millions of firearm owners. Such harassment would be in the vain hope a few accidents will not occur or can be prevented.

Training or tests to prevent these few accidents as has been shown by the example of motor vehicle drivers licensing to be futile and an expensive waste. It is not suggested that vehicle drivers training be abandoned because driving on roads requires a learnt skill that takes many hours of practice to master the complex interrelated controls of vehicles.

Firearms have two controls that require little dexterity or timing skill and these are easily learnt and applied in a few minutes of instruction. The past record of firearm owners good behaviour is testament to training being an unrequired impediment to be used and abused by the SAPS to exclude firearm ownership by increasing the cost and difficulty of obtaining a licence.


* All provisions for a licence application which include training should be removed.

Black power firearms

The is no evidence to suggest that any black powder non-cartridge firearm is a problem either in the use by criminals or a danger to public safety.


* Black powder firearms must be deregulated as well as the supply of black powder, which is a low grade explosive. Black powder is not the choice of terrorist activity when better explosives are less costly and more easily obtained from theft from mines or manufactured from household and garden chemicals.

* Why on earth the SAPS have identified cap and ball revolvers as dangerous is anyone's guess but paranoia must play a part of this decision.

Air guns


* All air guns must be deregulated. It is far better to punish the few who abuse the system.


Silencers are an essential part of much legitimate firearm activity from hunting to training including medical reasons. One can only guess the SAPS and Ministry of Safety and Security have had an attack of paranoia or have been watching to much of the product of Hollywood in desiring to exclude the legitimate use of silencers. The SAPS must be forced to table statistics on the criminal use of silencers in criminals acts. This must be seen in light of the good use of silencers and adjudicated accordingly.


* Silencers must remain unregulated.

Police powers of search

* It is recommended that the current and proposed police powers of warrantless search be brought in line with the Constitution of South Africa and a warrant must be obtained under all normal circumstances.

Police powers of confiscation


Police powers of confiscation by any name or means must be curtailed and removed.


Firearms are property and the Constitution is clear the confiscation by any means including the devious method chosen by government of demolishing any resale market must be compensated at realistic market value.


* Government must be prevented of circumventing the constitution with devious methods. Compensation must be paid for any handed in firearm when government has constructed the reason for such hand in. Forfeiture shall not be a reason unless the firearm has no other legal owner.


There can be no reason what-so-ever that licences issued for life require renewal. Such a requirement is retrospective and prohibited by the SA Constitution. If it is desired to up date a register which serves no crime fighting purpose then an audit can be held.


* The whole system of licensing should be abandoned as an expensive unrequired waste of police resources and money. This wasted time and expense must be channelled into viable and sound police activity such as investigation of crime and arrest of criminals. The conviction rate of 6% of all crime committed is an embarrassment to South Africa and its many law abiding citizens. Such a low conviction rate by world standards is an indication of incompetence and incorrect policy. Government and the SAPS need to abandon the current folly of chasing licensed guns and law abiding gun owners and implement criminologicaly sound policy and practice.



Primers cannot be considered as either ammunition or cartridges. This is in conflict with other sections of the Act which limit either the number of cartridges or ammunition which maybe held by licensed owners or registered collectors


* Remove this attempt to include for unknown and unwarranted reasons primers as ammunition. It can only cause confusion in the minds of untrained and unable to reason police and therefore false arrests and undue harassment of firearm owners.

Additional police powers in regard to competency certificates

As has already been pointed out the requirement of competency is not going to solve the problem of either crime or the supply of criminal guns. It is a frivolous waste placed in the Act at the urging of hate groups to increase the impediments and difficulty of firearm ownership.


* Police powers given in the Act must be removed in accordance with the Constitution of South Africa. Any claim that Act 60 of 2000 has passed Constitutional Court judgement is fraudulent. Any good and sound government would not be testing the Constitution but abiding by it.

* The police cannot be given arbitrary and unrestrained powers of refusal or granting of any licence nor may they dig up 20 year old admission of guilt fines. The conditions and requirements for successful application must be clearly stated and defined within narrow terms that allow no discretion on the part of the licensing agency. A time for the issue of a licence must be defined and stated as this is greatly abused. A persons life may well depend on the speedy issue of a licence making the foot dragging and go slow to order policy of the SAPS CFR impossible.

* It should be noted that in 2004 prior to the Pretoria High Court case seeking an urgent interdict the SAPS CFR processed in a matter of weeks some 80,000 outstanding applications. This gives a very good indication of what speed the CFR is capable of achieving. There is no reason to not expect the same or similar performance now even given that there is added complexity. The DFO handles that and CFR has no addition duties despite the false claims made by CFR in excuses.

Consultative body.

This is to be welcomed but it is doubtful that the current political will of the government will allow it to become anything more than a diversion of firearm owners attention. It must be pointed out that such a structure already exists but the Minister has seen fit to exclude certain parties without giving reason. GOSA made application to be included in this current "consultation" and was never advised of a refusal. Questions to the advertisers of the request have remained to-date unanswered.

GOSA was not the only organisation denied and a similar application for Mr. Alex Holmes (one of South Africa's foremost experts on firearms) who represented the National Firearms Forum and SA Firearms Forum was also ignored without any response when requested.


* The Minister of Safety and Security needs to get his house in order and only if he is interested in meaningful representation and sound advice which unless the government can disprove will be incorporated in new law would such a body have any legitimacy. Nobody is interested in bad faith discussion with the Minister when he has hidden agendas that are going to define the outcome.


In light of the complete failure to achieve even a single aim of the Act preamble. The best that can happen is that government revert to the former Act and distance itself from the Firearm Control Act and consult in a proper manner. That for the first time major stakeholders are included in drafting policy and new legislation that can have some chance of making a meaningful impact on crime.
"Two memorials remain today at Thermoplylae. Upon the modern one is engraved his response to Xerxes' demand that the Spartans lay down their arms. Leonidas' reply was two words, Molon Labe. 'Come and get them'."
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