As South Africa prepares for the 2017 budget speech, this first briefing of the year focuses on the costs of gun violence, showing that while strong gun laws save lives; poor enforcement kills, disables and costs.

The starting point is evidence that South Africa’s Firearms Control Act (2000) has not been properly enforced since 2011. Against this backdrop, this Briefing tracks how the gains in lives saved from gun violence (which date from 2000) have been reversed:

  • More people are being shot: Latest data show that approximately 100 people are shot at each day in South Africa, of whom between 16 and 18 will die.
  • More people are being disabled: Using hospital data, this Briefing tracks how gunshots have overtaken motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of traumatic spinal cord injury, which is “surprising” according to researchers, as South Africa is not at war.
  • Costs are rising: Increasing indirect and direct costs negatively affect the survivors of gun violence, their families, communities and South Africa as a whole.

By summarising the impact and costs of poor enforcement of the Firearms Control Act, this Briefing aims to put gun violence prevention firmly on the agenda for action in 2017; urging government to fully enforce the Firearms Control Act, strengthen the law by bringing the Firearms Control Amendment Bill to Parliament in 2017, and holding a national firearms amnesty to reduce gun violence and save lives.

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