Gun Policy Briefs

Wednesday, 17 July 2019 09:00

Briefing 2 of 2019: Western Cape mortuary surveillance shows gun deaths doubled in 6 years

Firearms Control Briefing 2 of 2019 summarises a comprehensive report Western Cape Injury Mortality Profile: 2010-2016, which tracks the pattern of fatal injuries in the Western Cape over seven years.

The report shows that gun deaths in the province have doubled between 2010 and 2016.

Although dramatic and higher than the national average, the pattern of steadily rising gun deaths in recent years is not limited to the Western Cape; it is countrywide, as a forthcoming publication Gun Control & Violence: South Africa’s Story shows.

The steady increase in gun violence from late 2010 across South Africa can be directly linked to a breakdown in gun control. Poor enforcement and compliance, whether inadvertently or due to deliberate criminality, have created a vacuum which has led to an increase in the availability of guns.

Guns are designed to kill. Data show that gunshot injuries are 18 times more lethal than stab wounds: One in three people who are shot will die, while one in 55 people who are stabbed will die.

Unless urgent action is taken to recover and destroy existing stockpiles and limit the flow of new guns into communities, South Africa will again experience the unprecedented levels of gun violence of the 1990s.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019 08:48

Briefing 1 of 2019: How many guns are there in SA? The importance of stockpile management

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:

  1. Safe storage;
  2. Scheduled audits;
  3. Regular collections;
  4. Frequent destructions; and
  5. 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.

Tuesday, 06 November 2018 10:40

Briefing 6 of 2018: Licence renewals - A cornerstone of gun control

The sixth Briefing of 2018 coincides with a debate on proposed amendments to the law governing the renewal of firearm licences in Parliament on 6 November.

It locates firearm licence renewals within a global context in recognition that regular gun licence renewals are integral to public safety: Renewals ensure that licensed gun owners remain “fit and proper” for this responsibility and that registered guns have not been lost or stolen but are still in the possession of the licensed owner. They also help the state keep accurate records of who owns what gun for which purpose.

As such regular renewals are not just a ‘tick box’ technical procedure, instead they are a key principle of effective gun control. Consequently, any amendments to laws regulating firearm licence renewals must be carefully scrutinised to ensure that the overall objective of regular gun licence renewal – namely public safety – will be met.

Monday, 22 October 2018 10:44

Briefing 5 of 2018: Are guns effective for self-defence? Examining the evidence

This fifth Briefing of 2018 coincides with Disarmament Week, which is marked globally from 24 to 30 October. This year, the United Nations is highlighting the link between arms races, disarmament and the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030.

It shows that in the context of rising crime and mistrust in the police, some South Africans are choosing to buy guns for self-defence. However, the evidence (internationally and in South Africa – summarised in the Briefing) overwhelmingly shows that guns are ineffective for this purpose and that South Africa’s domestic arms race and associated violent crime is being fuelled by guns, particularly handguns, bought for self-defence.

It concludes by unpacking the implications of this evidence, calling for careful interrogation of those sections of the Firearms Control Act dealing with who can own what weapons for which purpose to restrict the type, calibre and number of firearms that an individual may own to address SA’s domestic arms race and associated violence.

Tuesday, 09 October 2018 10:44

Briefing 4 of 2018: QUICK FACTS - Guns and violence in South Africa

Brief 4 summarises the latest statistics and data on guns and violence in South Africa, including on gun-related death, disability and the impact of the Firearms Control Act.

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