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firearm lisence

The application to renew a firearm license must be filed at least 90 days before the expiry date.

During the course of last week; we received the following query.

 “I own a 9 mm Parabellum firearm, which has always been validly and legally licensed. At the end of last year and the first three months of 2018, I was out of the country for five months as a result of work commitments and as a result was unable to renew my firearm licence before its expiry in March 2018.

On my return, in April 2018, I went to the police, but they told me that because my licence had not timeously been renewed; the license was now invalid and that my possession of the firearm was now illegal.

Can this really be the case? Surely I have a valid excuse for not having renewed my licence on time?”

We have answered the query will also answer this question in this blog for your benefit.

The renewal of a firearm license is governed by section 24 of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 (“the Act”), which stipulates that the holder of a firearm licence who wishes to renew his licence must apply to the Registrar of Firearms (“the Registrar”) at least 90 days before the expiry date.

In a recent High Court judgment, the constitutionality of sections 24 and section 28 of the Act which deal with the termination of a firearm licence, was questioned and various arguments and propositions were put forward to try and convince the Court on the validity or otherwise of these sections.

It was contended in court that these sections caused confusion for firearm owners in respect of their obligations under the Act, in that, if a person has not applied for renewal of his firearm licence and the 90 day period has lapsed, there is no way that he could renew or apply to renew his firearm licence and was therefore in unlawful possession of the firearm with no means to rectify the situation.

In addition, although section 28 of the Act provides for amongst others, procedures for the cancellation of a firearm licence and a declaration by the Registrar or a Court that a firearm holder is unfit to possess a licence, the section does not provide any process which ought to be followed by firearm owners whose licences have terminated due to effluxion of time. It also does not provide clarity as to how, when and where to surrender their firearm, should their licence be invalid due to circumstances that result in the expiry of a licence prior to its renewal or in similar circumstances to our above case study. What does one do then in order to comply with the law and the Act?

Likewise, a person who has been declared unfit to possess a firearm is required to be given 30 days’ notice in writing of such declaration and the authority’s intention to invalidate their firearm licence and is permitted to provide reasons why their licence should not be invalidated.

There is no similar provision in the Act for a firearm licence holder whose licence has terminated due to effluxion of time, despite the fact that valid reasons could or may exist for the failure to renew the licence. 

In the absence of proper procedures for the renewal of firearm licences, the court declared sections 24 and 28 unconstitutional and ordered that the Act is amended by Parliament within 18 months to address this aspect. In the interim, the Court held that all firearms issued in terms of the Act, which are or were due to be renewed, shall be deemed to be valid. This order is at present suspended pending confirmation by the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of both of these particular sections; namely sections 24 and 28, of the above Act.

Against this background it means that there is a good chance that the expiry of the licence of the person making the above inquiry of us, as outlined in his query, may well not be valid; and we recommended to him that he request our assistance in making representations and formulating the necessary wording to formal correspondence to the Registrar explaining his reasons in detail for not having renewed his licence timeously, in light of the High Court decision.

Perhaps the above detail will assist others in a similar position?

Please visit our website at or send us an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your legal questions.

About our author:

Hugh Pollard (Legal Consultant), has a BA LLB and 42 years’ experience in the legal field. 22 years as a practicing attorney and conveyancer; and 20 years as a Legal Consultant.

082-0932304 (Hugh’s Cell Number)

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