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Press release: 21 January 2014: Firearms in deceased estates


 Firearms – FISA’s plea to executors and beneficiaries


It is more than 10 years since the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 replaced the old Arms and Ammunition Act. The purpose of the new act was to prevent the proliferation of illegally possessed firearms, to provide for the removal of these firearms from society and to improve control over legally possessed firearms in order to prevent crime involving the use of firearms. It further intended to establish a comprehensive and effective system of firearm control and management as well as the efficient monitoring and enforcement of legislation pertaining to the control of firearms.

An area where it seems that control may not be as effective as intended is where a firearm owner passes away.  According to information received from the South African Police Service there are still thousands of  firearms  registered in the names of deceased firearm owners in the Western Cape alone.

One of the first steps for an executor of a deceased estate is to establish from the central firearm registry whether the deceased was the registered owner of any firearms.  If the deceased was, the heir (beneficiary in terms of the deceased’s Will) needs to be asked whether they will be taking transfer of the firearm, whether it should be sold from the estate or whether it should be destroyed in order for the executor to comply with the act.   If the beneficiary wishes to take transfer, they should start the process of applying for an appropriate licence as it may take a few months before it is granted.

Anglique Visser, Chairperson of the Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa (FISA), says: “The question being asked is whether executors are failing to establish whether the deceased owned firearms or whether beneficiaries are not successful in applying for licences to transfer the firearms from the estate.  Either way, it leaves a gap in the estate administration process and may result in “unlicensed” firearms “floating” around.

“FISA therefore appeals to all executors, especially those who may be family members of the deceased and not familiar with the act, to adhere to the requirements of the act. We also call on beneficiaries to insist on confirmation from executors that the firearms have been dealt with in order to help make South Africa a safer place,” said Ms Visser.


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