Petition to own a gun for self-defence attracts more than 22,000 signatures.

More than 22,000 people have backed a petition by the DA to keep “self-defence” as a reason to own a firearm in SA. This is in response to the proposed Firearms Control Amendment Bill which, if signed into law, could see applicants wanting to own a gun for self-defence prohibited from owning firearms.

The DA said the proposed bill threatens the safety of millions of South Africans who fall victim to crime. It has also described the proposed bill as draconian.

“Should police minister Bheki Cele succeed in getting the draconian draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill passed into law, it will be a victory for criminals who already enjoy a licence to commit violent crime,” the party said.

DA shadow minister of police, Andrew Whitfield said police in rural and gang-infected areas are under-resourced and incapable of protecting citizens.

“The police service is in a state of disarray. Its dismal failure can be felt by South Africans from all walks of life, especially those in rural and gang-infected communities where police stations are understaffed and under-resourced,” said Whitfield.

The proposed bill was published in the government gazette on Friday. The public has until July 4 to comment.  The office of the minister said it had received 17,000 responses to the proposed bill.

Cele said the proposed changes should not be interpreted as the government’s attempt to disarm citizens. He said the changes, if signed into law, could help protect victims of gender-based violence and femicide.

Contrary to comments made by the DA, the minister said arming citizens will not solve the country’s crime crisis.

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