The first Firearms Control Briefing for 2019 looks at the importance of managing weapons stockpiles as a guarantor of peace, security and development.It argues that stockpile management is broader than securing state-owned weapons and ammunition stocks. Instead it incorporates managing all weapons and ammunition stocks – state and civilian – through five distinct actions:
- Safe storage;
- Scheduled audits;
- Regular collections;
- Frequent destructions; and
- Accurate record-keeping.
Globally stockpile management is a ‘hot topic’ as states across the world recognise the long-term and far-reaching devastation caused by poor stockpile management: Gun Free SA’s director Adèle Kirsten will be making an input on ‘Theft and looting of stockpiles, including seized and collected weapons’ at the Commonwealth Dialogue on countering the diversion of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition in the UK from 6 to 8 February, while progress on achieving SDG Goal 16: ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ (particularly target 16.4, which calls for a significant reduction in illicit arms flows by 2030) will be reviewed at the 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations.
As described in detail in Briefing 1 – which forms the basis of Adèle’s input at the Commonwealth Dialogue – the South African government has not adequately enforced the five steps of stockpile management, thereby failing in its duty to ensure that all who live in SA are and feel safe.
Urgent actions to be undertaken by the Minister of Police and National Police Commissioner include:
- Review and upgrade weapons storage and destruction facilities to prevent loss and theft and ensure weapons earmarked for destruction are destroyed;
- Set down the 2009 North Gauteng High Court interdict which exempts gun owners with ‘green’ licences issued under the Arms and Ammunition Act (1969) from having to relicense under the stricter Firearms Control Act (2000);
- Appeal the 2018 interim North Gauteng High Court order which has blocked the police from enforcing the renewals provisions in the Firearms Control Act;
- Proceed with the necessary actions to hold a national firearms amnesty as soon as possible so that gun owners whose licences have expired can surrender their firearms to the state without fear of prosecution; and
- Amend the Firearms Control Act to simplify the administration thereof and rigorously restrict access to handguns, which are highly prized by those who cannot get access through legal channels and are thus overwhelming targeted and used to commit crimes.