14 August 2006

Submissions i.r.o. proposed amendments to FCA 60 of 2000.


Before providing a detailed comment on the proposed amendments, SAAADA wishes to address the issue of the capacity of SAPS to effectively implement both the existing provisions of the FCA and any future amendments. This focuses primarily on the issue of service delivery or rather, the absence of an acceptable level of service delivery.

The firearms trade has been crippled by the lack of preparation and failure of SAPS-CFR & SASSET A to undertake their assigned tasks in a reasonable period of time and this has resulted in the demise of 90% of the arms trade in the short space of two years, largely through cash flow difficulties occasioned by the inability of the Public to even apply for' licenses. Prior to implementation of the FCA there were approximately 720 licensed dealers -operating. There are no more than 50 licensed dealers effective Iv operating today.

Present levels of service delivery reflect very poorly on Government and on SAPS in particular. The absence of service delivery has generated extreme levels of frustration, anger and resentment not just from the 2,8 million licensed gun-owners who are responsible, adult, taxpaying, voting citizens, but also from large numbers of would-be legal gun-owners who are subjected to interminable delays from both SAPS & SASSET A. This does little to engender faith & confidence in Government or the functional efficiency of SAPS.

Numerous examples abound, but amongst the most frequently raised complaints are the following;

1. The average time taken to receive a Sasseta certificate following successful completion of proficiency training is five to six months. Sasseta appears to be the only Seta that insists on supplying the required training achievement certificate itself, despite the training providers'" having to undergo a rigorous accreditation process by both SAPS & Sasseta. Information available is that others Setas allow the service provider to issue a training achievement certificate. Sasseta's approach is viewed as discriminatory and implemented with the intention of delaying/frustrating firearm license applications.

2. Only once an applicant has received a Sasseta certificate does SAPS process an application for a competency certificate. The average time taken by SAPS to process competency applications is twelve months or more. Numerous examples of the above are available.

3. A license application cannot be dealt with until an individual has received a competency certificate. This means that any would-be purchaser of a legal firearm has an eiqhteen month delay before for a license application can be dealt with. This was surely not the intention of the legislators when the act was drafted! This is in contrast this the SAPS assertion to the Committee that a license application should not take more than eight weeks.

4. Numerous other problems abound, including the following;

A. A large number of license applications submitted in terms of the Arms & Ammunition Act 1969 are still outstanding, more than two years after implementation of the FCA.

B. Large numbers of Arms & Ammunition Act appeals are still outstanding.

C. Accreditation of associations has taken two years and more, thus preventing collectors and even official organisations from submitting license applications.

D. Simple administrative matters such as deactivation approvals are taking two years or more.

E. Many firearms enabled Police Stations are still, understaffed and not in a position to undertake their duties as required.

F. The majority of Gunsmiths and many dealers have still not received their new Gunsmith/Dealer licenses despite the Act having been in effect for two years.

G. Unacceptable delays in dealing with queries, writing procedures and daily administration by CFR.

SAADA has raised above issues in a number of forums, including the following; 1. Direct appeals to CFR Director's office & subsequent meetings.

2. Direct appeals to Comm. Groenewald.

3. Dealer/hunter/sporting body-SAPS forums. National & Provincial.

4. Complaints to the Public Protector's Office.

5. Complaints to the Independent Complaints Directorate.

6. Two Minister's "Imbizos" & submissions to Minister's office.

Numerous objective examples of the above are available to substantiate the complaints made. Despite these have been tabled in the listed forums, the trade has yet to see a discernable improvement.

One wonders whether the statement made by a-Police Commissioner at a Safety & Security Portfolio Committee meeting in May 2006, stating that the main focus of the Act was to reduce the number of firearms in the country" does not account for many of the difficulties currently experienced by firearm owners.

The foreword to the FCA states that the the aim of this Act is to vigorously address firearms related crime by removing illegally possessed firearms from society". The Act makes no mention of removing firearms from legal gun-owners.

SAAADA and the firearms fraternity believes that an independent and objective evaluation by Parliament of The poor service delivery levels that the South African legal gun owner is having to contend with, the formation of the Ministerial Consultative Committee that the FCA makes provision for and the adoption of performance standards by CFR, would go a long way to' restoring faith in Government and SAPS.

SAAADA remains committed to co-operation and assistance with SAPS & Government in an effort to find an amicable solution for all, but emphasises it's view that the matter requires urgent attention.

Comments on the proposed amendments;

Definition of muzzle-loader Sect. 1 [g]

Very few muzzle-loaders fire a pure lead ball. Most utilise a conical projectile or even a sabot and this description is overly simplistic. We would prefer pure lead ball to be replaced with projectile.

We furthermore note that this definition specifically excludes cap & ball revolvers which are universally regarded as muzzle-loaders.

We would;

A]. Argue for their reinclusion as muzzle-loaders on the grounds that they are used almost solely by enthusiasts for recreational purposes and no pose no discernable criminal threat to society. SAAADA is not aware of a single instance of any-one using a cap & ball revolver for criminal purposes.

B] Ask what provision has been made for either relicensing or compensation for existing cap & ball revolver holders, should Government choose not to regard them as muzzle­loaders, given that Government deregulated them two years ago.

Substitution of section 3 of Act 60 of 2000.

3. [b] [2] Competency certificate for muzzle-loader.

Considering the factors mentioned in the pre-amble relating to the delays involved in obtaining competency certificates and the concerns detailed below, SAAADA requests that any existing or future competency certificates be acceptable for possession of muzzle­loaders, rather than requiring a separate muzzle-loading competency certificate.

1.The prime requirement of all competency certificates is a knowledge of the law, a criminal background check and familiarity with firearms operation.

2. The considerable delays likely-to be experienced jn;

a] Drawing up Unit Standards & approved training material for service providers

b r Obtaining a competency certificate from SAPS

3.The simplicity of muzzle-loaders, their pure sporting/recreational use the absence of any threat posed by muzzle-loaders and the fact that most countries and protocols[including the SADC protocol] regard them as antiques without any form of regulation.

Amendment of section 4 regulation of silencers.

Given the exceptionally heavy admin burden on CFR already presented by the existing provisions of the Act, coupled to the non-existent threat posed by silencers, SAAADA is opposed to any regulation of these items.

Amendment of Sect.9

8.[1] As previously noted, SAAADA is opposed to a separate muzzle-loader competency permit with subsequent corrections to all reference to separate muzzle­loader competency certificates.

Amendment of Sect. 17

17.[1] [a] [ii] Certification of collectability by SAHRA.

1. SAHRA has neither the skills, expertise nor manpower, to implement this proposal

and neither does it serve any practical purpose. Our belief is that it has been included merely as yet another step to hinder legitimate gun ownership and serves no purpose i.r.o. the aims of the Act. Heritage value is merely one aspect of collectability and South Africa's collector bodies have gone through an extremely rigorous accreditation process in order to provide the necessary verifications.

Amendment of Sect.96 NCACC regulation.

[2] Given the very considerable delays experienced by dealers in obtaining export permit approval from SAPS CFR, Foreign Affairs and SAHRA [in the case of antiques] and the nature of the firearms being dealt with [sporting & collectable rather than military], SAAADA requests that the numerical limit before NCACC approval is required is lifted to fifty of a type rather than the ten of a type presently applied. These delays seriously affect the industries competitiveness in the International arena and have resulted in considerable loss of business and jobs to no good purpose. The NCACC often fails to meet as scheduled [the July meeting was once again cancelled] and SAAADA has compiled a considerable correspondence file involving various Govt. departments flowing from the NCACC"s failure to meet as scheduled. SAAADA does not believe that any benefit is to be gained by further NCACC control, given the already rigorous procedure that dealers are required to submit to i.r.o exports.

Further proposals not presently included in the proposed amendments'

Renewal Arms & Ammunition Act firearm licenses.

SAAADA notes with concern that the proposed amendments make no reference to the scrapping of the renewal process, which was one of the primary motivations behind the current proposed amendments. This was the one proposal that had the support of all firearm associations and we note that it has now been dropped. SAAADA urges government to earnestly reconsider it's re-inclusion as we believe that SAPS does not have the manpower or resources to undertake this enormous exercise and still effectively Implement all the other provisions of the FCA, despite assurances that might be given. Our understanding of the original intention of those drafting the FCA was for an audit of license-holders to be undertaken to update CFR's database and we believe that this would more than suffice for purposes of control. This would also avoid the legal minefield involving constitutional challenges to the FCA i.r.o alienation of property rights and compensation claims, which are bound to follow should relicensing continue.

Storage of another person's firearm on dealer premises; Existing Regulations Chapter 7 section 67[4]4 [c] requires the firearm/s to be "securely attached with a secure locking device to a non-portable structure in such a manner that it can not readily be removed",

We believe the inclusion of this to be an oversight in the initial regulations as it was agreed to remove this requirement. It serves no practical purpose and leads to the refusal by dealers to store firearms on behalf of others. The nett 'effect is that of private individuals using less safe storage facilities and we would request it's removal from the regulations.

Testing of firearms by dealer/gunsmith on accredited ranges.

Section 31 [I] + section 51 [g) require that firearms may only be tested by a dealer or gunsmith at an accredited shooting range.

Many dealers/gunsmiths do not have access to an accredited shooting range, particularly in the rural areas. There is also a marked shortage of accredited long-distance ranges which are required for accuracy testing of rifles. This affects their ability to trade & earn a living and SAADA believes that these requirements serve no practical purpose & requests that they be deleted from the requirements.

Weekly Returns Gunsmiths

Section 59[1] requires gunsmiths to submit weekly returns of all firearms & main components acquired & transferred for the week. Considering that most gunsmiths are sole proprietors we find this an overly onerous requirement & request that the regulations be altered to allow returns to be submitted on a monthly rather than weekly basis, as is the requirement for dealers. All data is captured on a prescribed register and is subject to regular inspections by SAPS DFO's.


Yours Faithfully: Andrew J.Soutar