Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

Firearm Licence Renewal Update

Various meetings have been held with SAPS about license renewals, in particular renewals done late. In terms of the Firearms Control Act licenses need to be renewed not less than 90 days before they expire. Many license holders have not taken note of when their licenses expire and have been going late to lodge their renewal applications. In addition, inconsistent application of the license renewal process by SAPS remains a problem – some provinces accept late applications whereas others refuse them. It appears that these and other matters will be discussed at a DFO conference/workshop where after further instructions may be given.

On 23 November 2015, SAGA Trustee John Welch attended a meeting with Gen Mamotheti and Brig Mabule. This meeting was arranged because we had been informed that a new circular/instructions would substitute a police circular dated 21 August 2015 that seemed to have caused more confusion than clarity regarding late applications for the renewal of licenses. Various options open to the police and to late applicants were discussed. While SAGA is still waiting for confirmation on a number of issues we believe that you, our member, should be updated.

Some points include:

Once a license has expired it is no longer valid and the affected person will need to apply for a new license (SAPS271).

There seems to be confusion and/or misunderstanding regarding applications for renewal that are lodged within the 90-day period before the expiry of a license.

SAGA’s understanding of the law is that if the application for renewal (SAPS518a) is made “not less than 90 days before expiry of the license”, the license remains valid irrespective of how long it takes to issue the renewed license.

However, if the application for renewal is made less than 90 days before expiry of the license, that “presumption” is not applicable and the license remains valid only until its expiry date. In such a case and should the new license not be issued before the expiry date, the old license becomes invalid on the expiry date and further possession of the firearm will be unlawful since it is now an unlicensed firearm.

As a consequence the owner may decide (before or at the latest on the expiry date) to dispose of the firearm by selling it, or surrendering it to the police for destruction, or temporarily surrendering it to the police while waiting for his new license. Technically, in my view such owner may not, after the expiry date, keep possession of such firearm. It is common cause that there is great and vehement objection to surrendering firearms to the police.

It appears possible that owners of such firearms may lodge these firearms with Dealers. However, Dealers are concerned because they may not accept unlicensed firearms. If Dealers could assist it would alleviate the task of the police and reduce their responsibility of safeguarding such surrendered firearms. They could take the firearm into stock and have it removed from the name of the owner. In an arrangement between the owner and the dealer, the latter then keeps the firearm pending the issue of the new license, where after they hand it to the owner and the records are corrected to reflect who the owner is and that it is no longer on Dealer’s stock.

In the event of there being valid reasons for a late application for renewal (such as extended hospitalization, extended overseas traveling or work abroad, etc.) it was agreed that, even after the expiry date of a license, the affected person may still apply for renewal provided he submits proof of why he had or could not apply in time. Even an affidavit, so it seems, will have to be substantiated with medical, work or travel records.  

No instructions have yet been given to DFOs regarding the surrendering of firearms to the police pending the outcome of late applications.

SAGA urgently requests our members to please take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the law and to renew licenses in accordance with the legal prescripts.--

Issued by: The SAGA Office