Gun li­cence re­newal respite

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ZELDA VEN­TER

THE good news for gun own­ers is that they are not obliged to re­new ex­pired, or close to ex­pir­ing, firearm li­cences.

This comes af­ter the Pre­to­ria High Court’s ground­break­ing judg­ment in which Judge Ronel Tol­may yes­ter­day de­clared two sec­tions of the Firearms Con­trol Act un­con­sti­tu­tional. Th­ese deal with pro­ce­dures which should be fol­lowed in re­new­ing li­cences.

The judge said the sys­tem was clearly chaotic and called it “dys­func­tional”.

Judge Tol­may gave the gov­ern­ment 18 months to get its house in or­der and to stream­line the process deal­ing with the re­newal of valid li­cences.

She had set aside sec­tions 24 and 28 of the act and gave Par­lia­ment 18 months within which to ef­fect the amend­ment of the leg­is­la­tion to en­sure con­sti­tu­tional com­pli­ance.

She fur­ther or­dered that all li­cences is­sued un­der this act, which are or were due to be re­newed, be deemed to be valid un­til the Con­sti­tu­tional Court and Par­lia­ment spoke the last word on the is­sue.

A firearm law ex­pert, lawyer Martin Hood, said the prac­ti­cal ef­fect of this land­mark judg­ment was that gun own­ers who had handed theirs in to the po­lice be­cause their li­cences had ex­pired could now de­mand their firearms back.

“The po­lice must give it back to them in terms of this judg­ment.”

An­other prac­ti­cal ef­fect was there was no need at this stage to re­new any law­fully is­sued li­cence, whether it had ex­pired or not, un­til the Concourt or Par­lia­ment stream­lined the act. This would take about 18 months, he said.

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