On 23 July 2020 the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) set aside an egregious interdict granted by the North Gauteng High Court which disabled South Africa’s firearm licence renewals and termination system. In its ruling the SCA affirmed that gun ownership is not a fundamental right under SA’s Bill of Rights, but a privilege regulated by the Firearms Control Act; that an expired firearm licence cannot be renewed; and that a firearm licence that has terminated is no longer valid, which means the firearm is in illegal possession and the owner risks imprisonment.
The SCA estimates that there are more than 450,000 firearms for which licences have terminated due to non-renewal. This number is likely much higher as a result of a misinformation campaign that actively encouraged firearm owners to not renew their firearm licences in time.
Briefing 2 of 2020 documents the process leading up to the SCA ruling on firearm licence renewals, unpacks the implications of the ruling and identifies practical actions to be taken by SAPS to deal with the pool of firearms in illegal possession due to non-renewal.