Many people in South Africa own a firearm or intend to own one in the future. However, the right to possess a firearm is not guaranteed by law, and such a right is granted under limited circumstances under provisions of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000.
When is owning a firearm illegal?
Under the Firearms Control Act (Act No. 60 of 2000), a person can be guilty of a firearm offence when they:
- Do not hold the necessary permits or licences for firearms in possession.
- Point a firearm, antique firearm or airgun, whether or not it is loaded or capable of being discharged, without good reason to do so.
- Neglect to lock away the firearm in a prescribed safe, and/or loses the firearm due to failing to take necessary steps in ensuring the firearm’s safekeeping.
- Fail to report the firearm as lost, stolen or destroyed, 24 hours after having become aware of the loss, theft or destruction of the firearm.
- Amend information on the competence certificate, permit or licence.
- Sell, give or supply a firearm or ammunition to a person who is not allowed to possess a firearm or ammunition.
Firearms that are not prohibited under the act include:
- Automatic firearms (firearms that fire continuously while the trigger is pulled down, until the rounds of ammunition have run out);
- Any firearm that has been altered to enable more than one shot being discharged with a single depression of the trigger; or
- The firearm’s serial number has been changed or removed without the Registrar’s permission.
Registering a firearm
To register a firearm, a natural or juridical person may make an application to the Registrar of Firearms, and the natural person must possess a competency certificate issued after the successful completion of training by the Safety and Security Training Authority.
- Dolley, C. (2017). Gunmen involved in over 1 000 murders the focus of SA's 'biggest ever' firearms investigation. [online] News24. Available at: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/gunmen-involved-in-over-1-000-murders-the-focus-of-sas-biggest-ever-firearms-investigation-20170731 [Accessed 31 Jul. 2017].
- Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000. (2017). [ebook] Cape Town. Available at: http://saflii.org/za/legis/num_act/fca2000192.pdf [Accessed 31 Jul. 2017].
- Loc.gov. (2017). Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: South Africa | Law Library of Congress. [online] Available at: https://www.loc.gov/law/help/firearms-control/southafrica.php [Accessed 31 Jul.2017].
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)