Firearms: What are your rights?

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September 2020 – Firearm owners often wonder what their rights are. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.

A firearm owner is entitled to shoot a person who poses an immediate threat to his life or to that of someone else, should the shooter not be prevented. In terms of Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, firearm owners may only take this step if there is no other reasonable way in which they can protect themselves or others.

When you do shoot, keep on shooting until the life-threatening danger ceases. Nico Economakis, arms dealer and secretary of the North West Practical Shooting Association, warns gun-owners not to shoot just to scare someone away.

WHAT THEN?
What do you do if you have shot? Nico recommends that the scene be left un­changed. ‘The best thing is to put the weapon exactly where you were when you took the shot, and then to call the police. Do not change the scene. It is advisable to call a legal representative and not to make any statement without legal advice. Do not resist if the police arrests you.’

According to Nico the law does not stipulate what type of weapon should be used in this case.

  • A wife may for example use her spouse’s weapon in a life-threatening situation.
  • A weapon may be kept in a bedroom outside the gun safe at night. It may be in a vehicle – provided the owner of the weapon is also in the vehicle – but may under no circumstances be left in the vehicle, not even in a car-safe.
  • The Firearms Act stipulates that a firearm be carried out of sight (concealed under clothing) in a holster.

PRACTISE REGULARLY
Nico advises firearm owners to join a shooting club for the following reasons:

  • Firearm owners get the opportunity to practise with their firearms and become familiar with it.
  • Via the club, firearm owners have access to the most recent information on firearm legislation.
  • The club or affiliated association can assist with applications for firearm licences.

THE BIGGEST MISTAKE A FIREARM OWNER CAN MAKE, IS TO OWN A WEAPON THAT HE/SHE IS NOT FAMILIAR WITH. IF YOU OWN A FIREARM AND NEVER PRACTISE WITH IT, IT IS BETTER TO USE A CRICKET BAT. IT IS, FURTHERMORE, IMPORTANT FOR FIREARM OWNERS TO BUY THE BEST AMMUNITION THEY CAN AFFORD AND SHOOT REGULARLY SO THAT AMMUNITION DOES NOT GET OLD (IT SHOULD NOT BE OLDER THAN SIX MONTHS).’ – Nico Economakis