Useful Information

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What is section 13, 15, and 16 of the Act?

Sections 12 through to 21 pertain to the various types of firearm licenses one can apply for. Some sections only allow a limited number of firearms to be licensed under that section. Every individual firearm receives its own license, regardless of how many are owned. The most common types are sections 13, 15, and 16. Application time periods can last many months, but usually it is a three month wait.

Section 13: This is for self-defence purposes, and is often called the self-defence license. You may own one firearm under this section, specifically a handgun or a manual shotgun. When selecting a firearm for the purposes of section 13, do your due diligence and make sure it is one you can rely on, and will not need to replace in the near future! #SafeCitizen recommends you do not license a shotgun under this section. Section 13 licenses are valid for a period of five years. You may not possess more than 200 rounds of ammunition under this section.

Section 15: This is for occasional sport/hunting purposes. You may own four firearms under this section, as either four manually operated long guns, or one handgun and three manually operated long guns. Section 15 licenses are valid for a period of ten years. You may not possess more than 200 rounds of ammunition under this section.

Section 16: This is for firearm owners with Dedicated Sport Shooter status (DSS), either as a sport shooter or a hunter. There is no numerical limit to firearms or ammunition you may own under section 16. To be awarded DSS, you must be a member of a registered shooting or hunting club and complete their unique registration process. Once a member, you must complete a minimum number of activities a year that is logged with your club, to keep your DSS active. If you membership lapses for whatever reason, you are in technical unlawful possession of all section 16 firearms.

IMPORTANT NOTE: While you may own one handgun on section 13 and a second handgun on section 15, bear in mind that if you have a section 13 license, the four firearm limit of section 15 is reduced by one. You cannot own more than four firearms unless you have Dedicated Sport Shooter status (DSS).

IMPORTANT NOTE: You may own four firearms between section 13 and 15, and also own firearms under section 16.

How do I become a Dedicated Sport Shooter?

You must join a registered sport shooting or hunting club, pay annual membership and remain in good standing, as well as complete a minimum number of 'activities' each year. Each club will have different requirements as to what activities count in this regard, and how many you must log on an annual basis. If you membership lapses for whatever reason, you are in technical unlawful possession of all section 16 firearms.

What is the law regarding deadly force?

There are three essential requirements that ought to be satisfied before one can expect to justify the use of deadly force:

  • There must be an unlawful attack against your life or the life of a third party (both of these contexts constitute "private defence");
  • The attack must be unlawful;
  • The attack must be imminent or about to begin.

The requirements for using force in private defence only apply to cases in which you reasonably believe "life and limb" to be at stake. If a court determines your use of force to be unreasonable, you may be convicted of a crime. You cannot use deadly force to protect property. Not all people are the same, and different standards of reasonableness may be used depending on your own unique characteristics. The keyword in applying the three requirements is "reasonableness" under the circumstances and based on your unique characteristics.

Click here for a detailed discussion on the use of force in self-defence.

May I defend my property by using non-lethal force?

Property is a protected interest under private defence and you may use reasonable force to defend it. You may not use lethal force. What is reasonable may be verbal commands, or more "direct" force such as resorting to assaulting a thief by tackling them to the ground.

If the person infringing your property rights directs an attack against you when you intervene to protect your property, the unlawful attack is no longer against your property. It is now against you, and if your life is in danger, you may resort to lethal force. Be mindful that you may be accused of escalating a situation. Rather alert police or security if you can. If you insist on defending your TV (for example), is it worth more than your lawyer's fees if you are charged with a crime?

Click here for a detailed discussion on the use of force in self-defence.

What is the co-called "authority" for killing in defence of property?

From time to time, the old Appellate Division (the pre-Constitution Supreme Court of South Africa) is cited as saying you may kill in defence of property. This refers to the case of S v Van Wyk and is somewhat misunderstood.

In 1967 a man (Van Wyk) rigged a shotgun trap to ward of burglars from his store,which killed an intruder. Van Wyk had tried all reasonable alternatives to protecting his store and failed before resorting to this lethal option. Even though the majority of the court decided that Van Wyk had acted lawfully, the majority also seemed to suggest it was an extraordinary situation. Accordingly, even if this this court decision from over fifty years ago is still valid (which it probably is not), killing in defence of property will only be permissible in very narrow situations.

Do not use lethal force to defend property.

Click here for a detailed discussion on the use of force in self-defence.

What will happen if someone points a toy firearm at me and
I wound or kill them?

A court will judge such a situation subjectively, with reference to your unique state of mind, in which it may find your conduct was reasonable or unreasonable. If you believed the toy firearm to be real, or reasonably believed it could be real, this would constitute‘putative private defence’. This means you mistakenly believed a state of affairs that did not exist (what you thought to be real was actually a toy). Your life was never in real danger, but you believed it was. If your putative private defence was reasonable, you will not be criminally liable. If it was unreasonable, you will be convicted accordingly.

Click here for a detailed discussion on the use of force in self-defence.

What can I expect to happen if I shoot someone in self-defence?

The police have wide discretion in deciding how to proceed; they may take your firearm for ballistics, they may "arrest" you, or they might ask for a statement and do nothing further. You do not have to give a detailed statement immediately. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to possibly save you the headache of saying things you may later regret. An inquest docket will be opened by the police, but this is not a "murder charge". An inquest docket is opened in all cases of unnatural death.

Do not tamper with the scene any more than you need to (applying first aid to yourself or others, removing weapons from the person you have wounded/killed, etc.). Do not move things around or even collect spent casings, as the police may consider this suspicious and arrest you. Do not "plant evidence", as many experienced police officers will know immediately that something is wrong and arrest you for the serious charge of "defeating the ends of justice". Keep other people from contaminating the scene until the police arrive to take control of the scene.

Can I use hollow point bullets

A good rule of thumb is if a registered and licensed firearm dealer sells it, it is legal to own, carry, and shoot with. The Act allows the Minister of Police to declare certain ammunition prohibited by publishing notice in the Government Gazette, but no such notice has ever been published. Making hollow point bullets illegal would be unwise due to the public safety benefit they provide to firearm owners, namely that they mitigate against over-penetration and possibly injuring third parties.

Can I travel with my firearm loaded?

You are not specifically prohibited from traveling with a loaded firearm, however there is a safety consideration you must take into account before you do so: you are responsible for where each bullet fired ends up and the damage it does on its path there. This is regardless of whether or not the shot is fired purposefully or by accident. #SafeCitizen recommends that travel with unloaded firearms, except those carried for self-defence in an appropriate holster.

Can I carry my pistol with a loaded chamber?

There is no provision in the Act that prohibits carrying with a round in the chamber. It is commonly referred to as carrying 'one-up', and it is the recommended way to carry a firearm if you are confident enough in your ability to do so.

Am I allowed to conceal my firearm?

Yes you may. When carrying a firearm in a public place section 84 specifically instructs you to keep your firearm completely covered.

How do I hand over my firearm at a roadblock?

You are only under obligation to declare that you are carrying a firearm if a police officer asks you in this respect. You are entitled to refuse to provide an answer if the officer cannot produce an appointment certificate. If you declare that you are carrying, always keep you hands visible and do not make sudden movements. Slowly and calmly produce your license if asked. If your firearm is requested for inspection, ask if you may draw and clear your firearm in an area that it is safe to do so. The officer may direct to you how they want you to do this.

Can I have more than 2,000 primers?

If you do not have Dedicated Sport Shooter status (DSS), you may not possess more than 2,400 primers. This limitation does not apply to persons who have DSS status.

How much ammunition can I have?

If you do not possess Dedicated Sport Shooter status (DSS), you may not possess more than 200 rounds per firearm license. If you possess DSS, you may possess an unlimited amount of ammunition in respect of firearms you own that can safely discharge said ammunition.

How many tins of powder can I have?

The possession of firearm propellant is governed by the Regulations of Explosives Act. Any holder of a firearm license may possess propellant for the purpose of reloading their own ammunition. You may possess up to 600g of propellant per license with the total not exceeding 2,400 grams. You are required to store your propellant in a locked, sturdy cupboard. While some people opt for rather storing propellant in a safe, this can be extremely unsafe. Propellant decomposes over long periods of time and can become spontaneously combustible. If this happens while inside a locked safe, the effective result is that of a bomb blast.

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