International best practices in legislative provision Page Number for establishment of Firearms Control

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People who express intention to kill themselves or other people

Around 1980, in the United States of America (USA), firearms were the third most used methods of committing suicide, after hanging and gassing. Strict handgun control laws in the USA helped to bring down suicides using firearms by 23 per cent. He reports that on the contrary, Australia, with its weaker gun control laws, experienced a higher suicide rate using firearms, between 1961 and 1985. Lester reports further that Australia imposed stricter gun control laws, and the results were positive, with the reduction of firearm suicide by 21 per cent. Canada also tightened its gun control in 1977 and saw a decrease of firearm suicide rates (Lester, 2000:212). He goes on to say that studies were conducted in over 12 countries, including Canada, and it was found that most firearm suicides were associated with the percentage of households owning guns.

People with unstable mental condition

It is popularly known that brutal, violent and senseless crimes are mostly committed by someone who is “mentally ill” or “sick”. The acceptance is based on the assumption that mentally ill people do not play by the rules of society, are unpredictable, and cannot control and be held accountable for their actions. Since they are capable of doing anything at any given time, they are dangerous and risky (Barton, 1983:125). Mental illness is defined by Barton and Barton as a disorder of the mind that is judged by experts to interfere substantially with a person’s ability to cope with life on a daily basis (Barton, 1983:126). Pilgrim and Rogers (1993:181) are of the opinion that people experiencing active psychotic symptoms normally have a greater tendency towards violence than the ordinary community population.

Government roles in restricting firearms

South Africa’s National Injury Mortality Surveillance System, which is administered by the University of South Africa (Unisa), recently reported that firearms were used to kill in excess of 6,000 South Africans in 2004 ( Gould & Lamb, 2004:3). He reports further that 86% of deaths due to firearms were the result of violence, with the remainder being attributed to suicide (13%) or accidents (less than 1%). More than 80% of victims of firearm violence were men, most of who were between the ages of 20 and 39. The Centre for Human Dialogue (2006:3) reports that under the international human rights law, states are not only responsible for the actions of their agents (military and law enforcement), but they also have a duty to prevent patterns of abuse committed by private persons. Failure to take effective steps to protect individuals can amount to violation of human rights law.

A need for stricter gun laws:

The firearm registration process is intended to record details of a firearm together with information about the person responsible for the weapon. This practice is a widely accepted norm throughout the world, due to the following reasons: it holds gun owners responsible for their firearms; decreases the criminal use of guns; reduces the illegal trade in guns and defuses domestic violence within households. According to Sir Thomas Thorp, a retired New Zealand judge, gun registration is an accepted norm and a cornerstone of gun control (ISS, 2000:2).

Development of arms control in the USA

The first modern American gun law (Sullivan law) was enacted in 1911 after an attempt on the life of New York city Mayor, William Gaynor (Goss, 2006:107). The second law followed after the shooting of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 (Gun Control Act, 1968). In 1990 the state banned the sale and possession of assault rifles, prohibited possession to those under the age of 18 years, and held parents criminally liable for the gun-related actions of their children.

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Development of arms control in the Southern African Region

In 1996, through the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), African countries committed themselves to investigate ways of reducing small arms proliferation. In 2000, the OAU countries adopted the Bamako declaration on an African position on the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking in small arms and light weapons. (Gould & Lamb, 2004:227). They further report that on 14 March 2000, South Africa ratified the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocols on the control of firearms, ammunition and other related matters. SADC protocols commit SADC states to a legally binding regional small arms control policy to be implemented throughout the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SAPPCCO).


  • Chapter 1: General Orientation
    • 1.1 Introduction
    • 1.2 Problem statement
    • 1.3 Research aims and objectives
    • 1.4 Methodology of the study
    • 1.5 Value of research
    • 1.6 Research approach
      • 1.6.1 Research design
      • 1.6.2 Sampling
      • 1.6.3 Data collection and analysis
      • 1.6.4 Method of ensuring validity and reliability
      • 1.6.5 Ethical considerations
    • 1.7 Delimitation of the study
    • 1.7.1 Geographical delimitation
    • 1.7.2 Conceptual delimitation
      • A firearm
      • Firearm ownership
      • At-risk individual
      • Section 102 enquiry
    • 1.8 Problems that complicated the study
    • Layout of the dissertation
  • Chapter 2: The extend of firearm restriction to at-risk individuals Page Number
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Background
    • 2.3 At-risk individuals
      • 2.3.1 People who express intention to kill themselves or other people
      • 2.3.2 People with unstable mental condition
      • 2.3.3 People who are dependent on substances
      • 2.3.4 People convicted of offences under the FCA or the previous firearm act
      • 2.3.5 People convicted of offences in terms of the Domestic Violence Act,
      • 2.3.6 People declared unfit to possess a firearm
    • 2.4 Elimination of at-risk individuals from gun ownership
    • 2.5 Elimination through background checks
    • 2.6 Negligence as a contributing factor to illegal pool of firearms
    • 2.7 Government’s role in restricting firearms
    • 2.8 A need for stricter gun laws
    • 2.9 Conclusion
  • Chapter 3: International best practices in legislative provision Page Number for establishment of Firearms Control
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 Development of arms control internationally
      • 3.2.1 Development of arms control in Britain
      • 3.2.2 Development of arms control in the USA
    • 3.3 Development of arms control in the Southern African Region
    • 3.4 Historical development of firearms in South Africa
  • Chapter 4: Prevention strategy for at-risk gun license holders Page number
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 Background
    • 4.3 Primary prevention
      • 4.3.1 Primary intervention at schools
        • Tempe‘s school prevention initiatives
      • 4.3.2 The Gauteng Safety Strategy
      • 4.3.3 Community Organisation
      • 4.3.4 Gun Free Zones and Firearm Free Zones
      • 4.3.5 Media Based Program
    • 4.4 Secondary Prevention
  • Chapter 5: Presentation of the research findings
  • Chapter 6 Interpretation of the research findings
  • Chapter 7 Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations


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