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I was discussing the ATF Gunwalker scandal with Chris Dumm, trying to get a grip on the motivations behind the agency’s decision to allow thousands of American guns to cross the border into Mexico illegally. “Never ascribe to intelligence what can be attributed to incompetence,” Chris warned. If we apply this Occam’s Razor-like lesson to the situation in the Republic of South Africa re: gun licenses, we’re looking at a bureaucracy that couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery. tells the tale . . .

Last year, Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa, said in a response to a question posed in Parliament that there had been 1365203 applications for the renewal of firearm licences in terms of the new Firearms Control Act (Firearms Act) since it came into effect. Of these applications, 499043 had been approved, 15766 denied and 2009 are on appeal. This meant that almost 850000 were still to be processed.

That’s renewals. Not new apps. In other words, South Africa has a de facto disarmament policy for its law-abiding citizens, while millions of unlicensed, unregistered firearms are out there, somewhere, getting up to all kinds of mischief (with help from their owners, obviously).

As we’ve discussed, a disarmed population is a powerless population, and that’s not a good thing. At all. But don’t take my word for it.

The Black Gun Owners Association also resorted to the courts last year following claims by its chairman, Abios Khoele, that the Firearms Control Act placed black South Africans at a huge physical, educational and economical disadvantage, especially those most likely to suffer from violent crime, as well as the poor and the aged.

Between 2004, when the firearms licencing laws were changed, and 2010, 900 gun shops have closed down and 10000 people have lost jobs, Khoele told a press briefing last year.

His association represents 700000 people – of all races.

And so South Africans are taking to the courts to force their government to do the right thing about firearms licenses. Well, anything, really. For their part, excuses. Yesterday, the South African Police Services issued a press release on the subject.

“For us what becomes important during this period is not meeting deadline but ensuring that law-abiding citizens who apply for firearms ownership are granted. It is after all, not our intention to arm every citizen particularly those who are not fit to own firearms. We therefore appeal to all those interested parties to support us as we deal with these backlogs; and, further invite them to approach us if they have anything to contribute to this process. Engaging through courts will not benefit anybody,” stated Minister Mthethwa.

Alternatively, it could benefit everybody.

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  1. I’ll suggest we not forget our neighbors to the north. When the Liberal government introduced their long-gun registry they said it would cost $100M, and be a huge tool for law enforcement. Many years later, the backlog is tremendous, the cost is over $1B and Police Chiefs (a massive group of supporters) cannot point to one crime solved because of it.

    Also look to the UK. Registration leads to confiscation that leads to increased crime. Always.

  2. “South Africa has a de facto disarmament policy for its law-abiding citizens”

    Correct. Neither one of them can buy a gun.

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