NEW FIREARMS AMNESTY

PROCEDURES FOR PARTICIPATION IN NEW FIREARMS AMNESTY FROM 1 AUGUST 2020 TO 31 JANUARY 2021

Parliament has approved a new firearms amnesty to run from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.

The new amnesty has reference to firearms people no longer want, or for which there is no license, or for which there is a lapsed white license. 

Members should not doubt that the new amnesty, like the previous one, is focused on taking in as many firearms with lapsed white licenses as will be possible.  That means legal firearm owners are once again in the “firing-line” – criminals do not hand in illegal firearms under any amnesty, unless they cannot be traced.

Members with lapsed white licenses can again participate in the new amnesty and apply for a new license for such a firearm as well as for renewal of a lapsed competency certificate for that type of firearm.  The new amnesty protects a person from prosecution for being in possession of a firearm with a lapsed white license (but only for the period the amnesty is in place – thus up to 31 January 2021).

The terms (rules) of the new amnesty running from 1 August are the same as those of the previous amnesty which ran from 1 December 2019 to 31 May 2020 – Download Government Gazette with terms for New Amnesty HERE  (take note of police stations which may not accept firearms under the amnesty please – see page 3)

TAKE NOTE:  People with lapsed white licenses are no longer protected under the interim court order obtained by Gun Owners of South Africa (GOSA) on 27 July 2018 in the Gauteng High Court – (see Newsletter Vol. 14(27)).

The SAPS Appeal against the interim court order of 27 July 2018, which interim court order protected firearms owners with lapsed white licenses from confiscation of such firearms and possible arrest, was on 23 July 2020 upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals – see Newsletters  Vol. 16(39) in Afrikaans and Vol. 16(40) in English.

People with lapsed white licenses, are thus now once again obliged by law to hand in firearms for destruction if the white licence for such a firearm has lapsed (see Constitutional Court Order of 7 June 2018 on constitutionality of sections 24 & 28 of the FCA) (some relief for this harsh situation is in participation in the new amnesty which runs till 31 January 2021). 

The legally difficult situation regarding lapsed white licenses for which there was a green license is still interpreted by SAPS as per the National Commissioner’s directive of 3 February 2016.  This means that SAPS will interpret white licenses which have lapsed, despite there being a green license for that firearm, as having expired, and that such firearms must be handed in with SAPS for destruction (or to be handled under the rules of the new amnesty). 

Until the continuation of the legal validity of all green licenses has been confirmed by a court (thus setting aside the administrative ruling of the National Commissioner of 3 February 2016), we cannot give more responsible advice on the practical administrative interpretation of SAPS re the validity of green licenses, other than that contained in our Newsletter Vol. 12(17) of 10-03-2016 despite any other legal opinion on the matter having been shared with members.

Thus, following the Constitutional Court’s 27-07-2018 order and the Supreme Court of Appeals’ order of 23-07-2020, a person who is in possession of a firearm of which the white license has expired, has only two options.

The first is to surrender such firearm with SAPS for destruction, or second, to participate in the new amnesty to again get such firearm licenced under their name

The procedures for Participation in the New Amnesty are as follows:

1.      If you want to hand in a firearm with lapsed white license for destruction (or a firearm you do not want any more):

1.1    Hand in the firearm at any police station. Make sure you get officially stamped SAPS documentation indicating the type of firearm handed in, the make of the firearm, the caliber of the firearm and the serial number of the firearm.

1.2   Make sure the SAPS form you receive states that the firearm is surrendered for destruction.

1.3   DO NOT leave the police station without these documents !

1.4   Keep that document very safe as the firearm needs to be taken off your name when the amnesty has passed. Prepare yourself for a long wait for the process to be finalized as all firearms surrendered under the amnesty need to be ballistically tested after the amnesty has run its course.

2.      If you want to apply for a new license for a firearm with a lapsed white license, you have until 31 January 2021 to do so under the current amnesty.

2.1   Get a gunsmith’s report, which indicates the value of the firearm so that you can prove value if the firearm should get lost after having been handed in with SAPS (state make, caliber and serial number – also take photographs of the firearm).

2.2   Hand in the firearm at any police station under the amnesty and indicate that you will within 14 days submit an application for a new license for the firearm with your DFO.

2.3    Make sure the SAPS form you receive back states that the firearm is surrendered under the amnesty, NOT FOR DESTRUCTION FOR NEW LICENSE, and that you will apply for a new license within 14 days after the date of handing in the firearm.

2.4    Your competency for the type of firearm of which the license has lapsed, has most probably also lapsed. Complete a renewal of competency form for the type of firearm for which you want to apply for a new license under the amnesty (i.e. handgun, or rifle, or shotgun, or semi-auto rifle). Download these two forms and complete to apply for renewal of competency:

SAPS (517g) – Application for Renewal of Competency

Annexure A (Affidavit) to Accompany Application for Competency or for Renewal of Competency

2.5   Complete a SAPS 271 form as application for a new license for the firearm of which the license had lapsed. Download these forms and complete to apply for new license:

SAPS (271) – Application for New Firearm License

Safe Annexure – Statement of Possession of Correct Safe

SAPS Check List of Documents for New Firearm License Applications

Also attach a copy of the Gazette containing the Rules of the Amnesty

2.6   Prepare yourself for a long wait for the process to be finalized as all firearms surrendered under the amnesty need to be ballistic ally tested after the amnesty has run its course.

Members should not doubt that SAPS will from 1 February 2021 come to confiscate firearms with lapsed white licenses, if such firearm was not handed in for destruction or an application for a new license for such firearm was not submitted under the amnesty.

Being found guilty of being in possession of a firearm of which the white license has expired (thus an illegal firearm) carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.

Please let the office know if you experience any problems at your police station regarding your participation in the amnesty – send Email to legal@natshoot.co.za

This article was first published on NHSA Link https://natshoot.co.za/nhsa-info/newsletters/nhsa-newsletter/2020/vol-16-43