Citation(s) from the literature library

Minnaar, Anthony. 2001 ‘Current Ownership and Numbers Profile.’ The 'Great Gun Debate' in South Africa: An Examination of the Struggle to Legislate for Stricter Firearm Controls, p. 2. Johannesburg: Institute for Human Rights & Criminal Justice Studies, Technikon SA. 30 September

Relevant contents

As at 31 August 2001 the total number of registered firearm owners in South Africa stood at 2,092,242. Furthermore, the total number of firearms registered on individual's names as at 31 August 2001 are 3,667,289.(2) (This figure excludes those firearms registered to private companies, government departments and those held in defence force armouries or issued to police personnel. If this figure is added the total number of firearms registered in South Africa exceeds 4,6 million(3)).

This would translate into ONE private firearm for approximately every 12 individual citizens or 85 for every 1,000(4) persons in South Africa…

This ratio indicates that almost 20% of all households in South Africa possess at least one firearm…(5)


2) Statistics supplied by H. van Zyl, Information and Systems Management Firearms Register System, Central Firearms Registry, South African Police Service, Pretoria on 21 September 2001.

3) As at 21 July 1999 95,722 firearms were registered with 11,989 institutions (e.g. companies and security firms) which is an average of 8 per company and 487,401 with government departments. On this date there were also 644 registered firearm dealers countrywide who held an additional 397,146 firearms in stock (Chetty, 2000:33-34). However, in July 2000 the South African National Defence Force started a programme for the destruction of 262,667 redundant, obsolete, unserviceable and confiscated small arms that had been identified for such destruction. Of these more than 60,000 were small arms of various calibres from the SANDF's own inventory, destroyed as part of the SANDF's commitment to a 1995 UN report on small arms and the effect they have on socio-economic development and reconstruction. Accordingly the exact number still in SANDF armouries is not precisely known at this stage. The SANDF small arms destruction programme was codenamed Operation Muflon. This weapons destruction programme was due for completion in February 2001 (Defence Correspondent, 2000. SANDF to destroy 260,000 guns. Pretoria News, 26 July). Besides the SANDF programme the SAPS had its own programme for the destruction of seized firerams as well as redundant weapons. Between 1997 and August 2000 the SAPS destroyed 42,659 firarms, including pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and homemade guns. Of these approximately 22,000 were confiscated firearms. The balance of the destroyed weapons previously belonged to the police service and former homeland police members. In addition and more than 111,000 rounds of ammunition. This destruction programme was partly aimed at cutting down on the wide variety of weapons purchased by the police and the adoption of a more uniform firearms procurement programme (Crime Reporter, 2000. Police destroy more than 40,000 firearms. Pretoria News, 31 August.)

4) This ratio is based on a current (August 2001) Statistics South Africa population estimate of 43,1 million.

5) Until 1983, the apartheid government prohibited firearm licenses for non-white citizens. Many non-whites were not granted licences until 1994. This resulted in a major disparity among the gun-owning population and since 1994 the number of black license applicants has grown significantly.

ID: Q8841

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