Firearms Control Bill: Ramaphosa looks forward to courts on ‘self-defence’ issue

President Cyril Ramaphosa has weighed in on the controversial Firearms Control Amendment Bill, saying he believes it is up to the courts to decide if it should be considered.

The bill was published in the government gazette late last month and sparked fierce debate.

Among other things, the proposed bill indicates that applicants applying for a firearm should provide a valid reason and that no licences will be issued to civilians for self-defence purposes.

Members of the public have until the end of Friday to comment.

Speaking during a media briefing on Thursday, Ramaphosa, said in his opinion, owning a gun to defend yourself was suitable, from a legal point of view.

“I’ve always had the notion that if you have a firearm and you have to use it, from a legal point of view and if you were under threat, you’d be defending yourself,” said Ramaphosa.

“The removal of that consideration, in my view, would have to be tested by the courts. The courts are the ones who have built up a lot of jurisprudence over many years, maybe more than 100 years, on issues of self-defence and being able to protect yourself, your body, your family, your property.

“So I think in the end, I think it is the courts that would have to rule on that. I guess the courts will second guess what the legislation wants to achieve on that.”

Watch the video from the 38:52 mark

TimesLIVE ran a poll recently asking if banning civilians from using firearms in self-defence was the right move.

The poll garnered more than 9,000 votes, with 96.6% of voters saying no to the move.

About 1.6% of the voters said the country needed fewer guns and more justice, while 1.8% questioned what would happen to their guns if the bill was made law.

Speaking on Cape Talk, police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said more than 60,000 written submissions have been received since the gazette was published.

“This is unprecedented, according to our people who are looking at the submissions. They said they have not seen so many submissions in such a short time. This demonstrates that South Africans are here to add their voice and their voice does matter,” said Themba.

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