Prohibit the use of air rifles in South Africa

  • by: Elle Durow
  • target: Minister of Police, Mr N Mthethwa : email

Airguns (sometimes called pellet guns) can be owned by anyone, irrespective of age, in South Africa and as a result they are often used to shoot at birds, wild and domestic animals and, occasionally, people.

Many people who own and use airguns in a built-up area are ignorant of the fact that they are committing a crime in terms of the Firearms Control Act, Act 60 0f 2000, in which it is clearly set out that the use of an airgun is as strictly controlled as is the use of a larger calibre firearm.

Sellers of airguns do not notify buyers that there are strict limitations on the use of airguns in residential areas, in fact anywhere that holds the risk of injury to another person, damage to property or animals. It is very irresponsible to both sell and acquire a pellet gun without familiarizing oneself with the relevant legislation controlling the use of such a weapon.

Reports of animals that have been maimed by these dangerous weapons are a daily occurrence, especially in the larger urban areas such as Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town where mainly primates such as Vervet Monkeys and Baboons are wounded, crippled and left to die agonising deaths.

You can help us in our campaign to get airguns banned from private ownership, or at least, very strictly controlled by enforcing the same licensing conditions that apply to larger calibre forearms with an age restriction of 21 years on the use of airguns. Please sign this petition for stricter controls on the ownership and use of airguns in South Africa.

Dear Minister Mthethwa,

Air rifles, commonly called airguns or pellet guns, can be freely purchased and used by anyone in South Africa. They are also often given as Christmas presents or birthday gifts to young children who then use them to shoot birds, wild animals – including monkeys and baboons – and domestic animals causing the targets to suffer extremely painful and crippling wounds. I know that this is in contravention of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 and also some provincial hunting regulations which prohibit the hunting of birds and animals with firearms with a calibre of .22 or less.

Air rifles are sold by dealers who fail to advise their customers of the dangers and safe handling of these weapons, and in fact emphasise the hitting and killing power of some of these weapons.

Daily reports are received about animals being shot with these weapons and having to be euthanased by the rescuers due to the nature of the wounds inflicted. Some animals, when x-rayed, carry up to 25 pellets in their bodies and suffer a slow, agonising death.

I hereby ask that you consider revising the Firearms Control Act to either ban the sale and possession of these weapons, or to apply the same licensing criteria that applies to other firearms.

I thank you you for your kind indulgence and hope that you will urgently facilitate the necessary amendments to the Act.

Yours sincerely,

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