DECLARED UNFIT TO OWN A FIREARM: Are the courts playing a role?

  • Duxita Mistry Institute for Security Studies
  • Anthony Minnaar Technikon SA
Keywords: police, firearms, criminal justice system, courts, South Africa, Arms and Ammunition Act


This article is a follow up to a previous article dealing with the role of the police in declaring a person unfit topossess or own a firearm.Similarly, it draws on a studythat examined how the criminal justice system excluded unfit persons from firearm ownership; the primary legal means being sections 11 and 12 of the old Arms and Ammunition Act, no. 75 of 1969. Section 12(1) refers to persons who are automatically declared unfit due to a conviction for a crime involving a firearm. Section 12(2) refers to the discretionary declaration of unfitness upon conviction for certain other crimes. As a result of the large number of crimes that are committed with firearms and the number of firearms that are stolen from legal gun owners, there is a drive by the criminal justice system to reduce the amount of firearms, both legal and illegal, in circulation. This article concentrates on s12 and reveals a number of shortcomings by both prosecutors and magistrates in the application of this section. These may have a considerable impact on the effective implementation of the new Firearms Control Act.

Author Biography

Anthony Minnaar, Technikon SA
Institute for Human Rights and Criminal Justice Studies
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