Getting a firearm licence while underaged
In last month’s issue I discussed the matter of renewal of a competency certificate in terms of the Firearms Control Act (FCA), Act 60 of 2000. This article focuses on the minimum age of applicants for firearms licences.
The FCA stipulates that a person must firstly obtain a competency certificate in terms of Section 9, before he can apply for a firearm licence. Section 9 reads as follows:
9(1): “An application for a competency certificate to possess a firearm... must be delivered to the Designated Firearms Officer responsible for the area in which the applicant ordinary resides or in which the applicant’s business is or will be situated, as the case may be.
9(2): Where a person has not previously obtained a competency certificate, a competency certificate may only be issued to such person if he is 21 years or older on the day the application is received by the Designated Firearm Officer…”
It’s therefore clear, in terms of the FCA, that a person must be 21 years old or older before he can apply for a competency certificate and then for a firearm licence. However, there are certain circumstances where the abovementioned age restriction doesn’t apply. In this regard I’m going to refer you to Section 9(5) of the FCA which reads as follows:
9(5)(a): “Despite subsection 9(2)(a), the Registrar may allow a person under the age of 21 years to apply for a competency certificate if there are compelling reasons which require the person to obtain a competency certificate or a licence to possess a firearm.
( b): Compelling reasons contemplated in paragraph (a) may include the fact that the applicant: • Conducts a business • Is gainfully employed • Is a Dedicated Hunter • Is a Dedicated Sports Person • Is a private collector.”
The purpose of this subsection is to accommodate appli cants under the age of 21 to obtain a competency certificate and eventually a firearm licence, provided that one or more of the abovementioned compelling reasons are present.
Let’s focus on the “dedicated statuses”. What does “dedicated” status mean and what steps need to be followed before an association/organisation can grant “dedicated” status to an individual? The answer is quite simple: One should join an accredited association such as the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) and comply with their internal rules which are the following: • Becomeamemberof SAHGCA. • Complete the Dedicated Hunter’s and/or Dedicated Sports Person courses (you can attend both courses, or just one of them). • After the successful completion of the course/courses and the required paperwork, the necessary dedicated certificate(s) will be issued to you. It’s important to note that one has to be at least 16 before you can attend these courses. Once you are in possession of the Dedicated Hunter or Dedicated Sports Person certificate and you are younger than 21, you can apply for a competency certificate. Upon receiving it, you can apply for a firearm licence.
Nowhere in the FCA does the legislator mention that one has to be 21 to obtain a firearm licence. The Act only mentions that one has to be 21 before you can get a competency certificate. Once you have a valid competency certificate, you can apply for a firearm licence irrespective of your age.
To summarise: If you are under the age of 21, but already a keen hunter or sport shooter, join a recognised organisation such as the SAHGCA and attend their courses to get dedicated status.
After receiving your dedicated certificates apply for your competency certificate and then for a firearm licence.
Safe sport shooting and hunting!