DA calls on public to sign firearm petition

GETTING THINGS DONE: The Democratic Alliance visited the community of Hofmeyr as part of the party’s local government election campaign. In a meeting with farmers in the area were, from left, member of the provincial legislature Retief Odendaal, DA shadow minister of police Andrew Whitfield, member of the national assembly Annette Steyn and DA leader John Steenhuisen Picture: ZINTLE BOBELO

The Democratic Alliance shadow minister of police and member of parliament Andrew Whitfield said the party launched a petition to oppose the Firearms Control Amendment Bill 2021.

In a meeting with farm owners in Hofmeyr during a visit by leader John Steenhuisen to the town as part of the local government election campaign, Whitfield said the bill proposed the ban on firearm ownership and wants to remove self-defence as a reason to own a firearm. “It is designed to remove the last line of defence for millions of South Africans who are facing a rising tide of violent crime, rape, assault, murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. It also wants to limit the number of firearms that hunting and private security businesses can own and we think there are a number of things that are going to happen.

“We believe guns are the last line of defence for many South Africans of all races and genders. We are working with a group of women on gender-based violence who are very worried about the legislation. We think we are going to win this fight, but we have to get as many people as possible to sign our petition at stopgunbill.co.za. We are also doing a physical petition that we are rolling out around the province and the rest of the country.”

Whitfield said their online petition had more than 70 000 signatures and he was certain the number would increase to more than 100 000 by the end of July. “This is a huge achievement because we believe it should be the right to life which is enshrined in our constitution against the rising violent crime in SA which requires drastic measures and those drastic measures are to ensure people have the right to own a firearm for the purpose of self defence.”

Whitfield said the bill would have a devastating impact on rural communities and the hunting industry. “Thousands of people in this area and surroundings are beneficiaries of the hunting industry. If it does not make financial sense for a farmer to run a hunting operation, they are going to close it down and do something else which will be less labour intensive. There are a lot of knock-on effects on this legislation.” Whitfield said the bill was irrational and would leave citizens vulnerable and less safe. He appealed to citizens to oppose the bill.

Farm owner Gerard Bekker said he was concerned with the rate of attacks on farmers. “I am worried about safety because farmers are murdered every day. As a farmer I have not experienced any problems, but no one ever knows. The attacks can happen tomorrow,” said Bekker.

Saps is under-resourced and underfunded. R3.8 billion was cut from the police budget but there was a R26m increase to VIP protection to protect Bheki Cele. It is unacceptable. Ordinary South Africans are suffering at the hands of an ANC government that just does not care anymore about the safety of rural communities. Not just farmers, but farm workers,” said Whitfield.

For more on the petition visit https://petitions.da.org.za/p/stopgunbill