During a recent meeting at Agri SA, with all provinces, we were informed that many members are frustrated with the long time in the issuing of firearm licences.
These frustrations include:
- licenses that have lapsed and which were surrendered under the last two amnesty periods
- handing in firearms for ballistic tests when applying for the renewal of firearm licenses
- members being turned away when applying for the renewal of their licenses due to Covid and covid cases at stations w
Points of interest noted:
- In order for an application to be made for a license, the firearm owner must have a valid competency certificate.
- In some instances, an application for a competency certificate must be made simultaneously with the application for renewal of a license. In such instances, the SAPS will first process the renewal of competence application, which must be issued before the renewal of the license application can be processed.
- The renewal of competence on average now takes approximately a year.
- The license application for firearms, surrendered during the amnesty periods, are considered a renewal of license and are handled provincially (not by the Central Firearms Registry).
- The long period of time for processing has been attributed to a lack of resources to complete the required ballistic tests within the SAPS.
- According to information from the SAPS, no firearms surrendered under the amnesty for ballistic tests have been linked to any offence.
- License applications submitted during the previous amnesty that ended in May 2020 are now starting to be processed.
- However as at the end of September 2021, most police stations had not yet begun to enter the last batch of amnesty applications that ended in 2021.
- It was reported that the Central Firearms Registrar moved offices resulting in them being behind with approximately 1 480 000 applications .
- To assist members with possible finalisation of an application, it is recommended that the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) be requested to enquire if the application has been processed and forwarded to the Provincial office. It may also be helpful to offer assistance or to make resources available (such as the appropriate ammunition to speed up the ballistic testing of the firearm).
- A time lag from when an application is approved until the licence card is printed is also causing delays. It is recommended that applicants regularly enquire with their (DFO) about the availability of their firearm licence cards.
At the meeting the possibility of bringing a Class Action against the SAPS was discussed. It was noted this would be a very difficult case as evidence would be required to be presented in court on a number of aspects and must be very carefully considered.
The take-away from the meeting is that members must ensure that applications are made timeously and with enough time for the renewal of both the certificate of competence and license, and to follow up regularly with the DFO on their applications’ status. We also request that members please keep records of these interactions, dates of applications etc. should a class action become necessary, this evidence would be most valuable.
Once a license application is captured by the police at the local station, the progress of the application may also be tracked on the SAPS website by means of a system provided for this purpose. Use the following link to track the progress: http://www.saps.gov.za/services/firearm_status_enquiry.php