VOL. 14 (40) - 19-11-2018
A BID TO SOLVE THE FRUSTRATION OF INCREASING REFUSALS OF SEMI-AUTO LICENCE APPLICATIONS
1. It has become common knowledge that SAPS (CFR) have for a while now, frustratingly declined a high percentage of licence applications for semi-auto rifles without any good reason. This despite applicants complying with all legal requirements of the FCA to be entitled to apply for, and to possess such firearms. The latest reason in a high number of refusals is stated as “…not convinced of need…”, which is totally outside the stipulations of the requirements prescribed by Section 16 of the FCA.
2. More recently the same is also happening with applications for semi-auto shotguns.
3. This situation has now reached a state where we are of the opinion that officials at CFR are overstepping the acceptable “line” for using their discretionary powers to evaluate applications for such firearms, due to the really bad, and not to frequent outside the law reasons given for refusals.
4. In addition to the above, government, and especially SAPS, also has never had the right to decide in which legal sport we as citizens may or may not participate in.
5. We have just completed a four-week intensive investigation into the legal avenues open to an association like us to assist its members to get CFR to act in what we perceive to be a more reasonable and responsible manner regarding applications for semi-auto rifles and shotguns. In this process we have repeatedly been convinced by a number of highly experienced lawyers and senior advocates that it will be very difficult to get courts to decide in firearms owners’ favour against the above-mentioned administrative bad practices of the CFR (other than taking these cases to court one by one - for that NHSA just does not have the funds, apart from the fact that the matter does not concern all members).
6. There is thus after our initial investigations no easy and clear legal way of bringing quick legal reason into this equation. We shall continue with our “search” as this matter cannot just be left because we can for now, not see a clear legal path to bring about change, to what is fast becoming a norm for refusals of legally sound licence applications.
7. That said, we also have to reasonably acknowledge that despite conforming with all statuary requirements to apply for semi-auto rifles and shotguns, there is an acceptable legal responsibility on an applicant to also show how and where s/he will use the firearm concerned, and why s/he cannot use the firearms s/he has licensed in his/her name for semi-auto sport shooting purposes.
8. It is, however, unfortunately also true that not all motivations for licence applications for semi-autos proves the applicant’s participation in sport shooting, as a perceived minimum requirement one would expect to at the least, be shown by applicants.
9. As we read members’ motivations for semi-auto rifle and shotgun applications before we issue an endorsement for same, we know that there are many of these motivations, which are not so well written (including some of the paid for motivations as well). We, therefore, always try and give advice where such motivations can be made better. We, however, have no way of knowing if the suggested changes were made before submission of applications, and if applications were then successful after the suggested changes were made (or not made).
10. What we do know is that those motivations with lengthy pages of internet copied and pasted information on the history of the make of the semi-auto rifle or shotgun, and its cartridges and calibre, are not the motivations which are successful (that kind of information is well left for the collectors in their motivations). SAPS want to know what you are going to use the firearm for; they don’t want to know if you know its history.
11. Until such time that we can be sure of a legal route to address this issue, we advise that members who apply for semi-auto rifles and shotguns must ascertain that they, apart from being compliant with all requirements to apply for semi-auto rifles and shotguns, preferably clearly show a record of participation in sport shooting, albeit with other types of firearms. That in itself proves participation, which logically leads to wanting to participate on another level where semi-autos are required.
12. We acknowledge that beginners could very well start off with a semi-auto rifle or shotgun, as first firearm, but that is the exception. That kind of application needs even better motivation.
13. It is just as important to explain why one cannot use each of the other firearms for which one holds licences, to participation in semi-auto specific exercises (i.e. just the requirement of rapid fire in a semi-auto exercise, disqualifies firearms with break-neck actions – say so).
14. It has been the experience that at the very least, if such a well written and proven motivation (application) is refused, and it can be clearly shown that CFR did not apply their minds when evaluating the application, it is nearly 100% of the time approved by the Appeals Board. It is not the preferred route, we know, but it must say something for decently compiled motivations with proof of participation in sport shooting being paramount.
15. As stated above, we shall continue with our “search” as this matter cannot just be left because we can for now, not see a clear legal path to bring about change to the CFR pattern of refusals. Please just never give up if your first time or second time application is refused. Keep on asking !
16. It serves members to remember that on this issue we do not “stand alone”. The matter of giving dismal reasons for refusal of semi-auto rifles and shotguns licence applications is also an aspect addressed by the SA Dealers Association in their coming court case against SAPS, as was reported on in our Newsletter Vol. 14(19a) dated 21-06-2018. We really hope their pleas 6 to 9 will convince the court to rule in their favour when their case is heard in the Gauteng High Court in the near future.
17. That will definitely go a long way in addressing the needs of our members in this regard as well.
18. We shall keep members informed as we progress with this matter.
The posting of this Newsletter was circulated to all members via Email on 19-11-2018