Yesterday’s news that parliament’s police portfolio committee has approved a firearms amnesty – the fourth in South Africa’s history – is warmly welcomed.
It’s also perfectly timed, as today marks the first day of global disarmament week (24-30 October), which has been observed annually around the world since 1978.
To commemorate disarmament week, Gun Free South Africa has published a comprehensive report on the history and impact of gun control in South Africa over 25 years.
Policy brief 5 of 2019 summarises the report Gun control and violence: South Africa’s story, showing how gun control – including firearm amnesties – saves lives.
In the 10 years that firearms were strictly controlled and less available in South Africa (2000-2010), guns stopped being the leading cause of murder and gun-related deaths almost halved, from 34 people shot and killed a day to 18.
However, from 2011 gun violence began increasing due to various breakdowns in South Africa’s firearms control management system. This included fraud and corruption, deliberate leakage of guns from secure stores into the illegal market, inappropriate target-setting, under-resourcing and poor planning.
As a result guns have become increasingly available. As gun availability increased so has gun violence.
The latest national crime statistics (2019) show that guns are again the leading cause of murder (47% of murders in 2018-19 were from gunshots and 31% were knife-related).
In sum, Gun control and violence: South Africa’s story is a map to reducing gun violence in South Africa and halving crime in the country in the next 10 years. It identifies tried and tested gun control interventions, including firearm amnesties, that saved lives in the past. These same interventions can again save lives.
Copies of Gun control and violence: South Africa’s story, are available online: