7 Questions Answered About Owning A Gun In South Africa

South Africa has some of the strictest firearm regulations and gun licensing laws in the world. However, there are still many debates surrounding gun ownership and the rights associated with owning a gun. So, let’s explore the legalities and responsibilities associated with owning a firearm (for personal use and business purposes) in South Africa.

1. Is Owning a Gun Legal in South Africa?

While it’s not a constitutional right, owning a gun is legal in South Africa. However, the process is strictly regulated and requires a thorough firearm licensing application process. Not only does the implementation of strict gun licensing laws allow for an updated record to be kept of who owns a firearm and who a firearm is licensed to, but it also regulates the process of obtaining a gun and ammunition. This helps to ensure that anyone who owns a firearm understands the legalities and responsibilities associated with using and owning a gun, as well ensuring you are able to adequately and efficiently use and maintain your chosen firearm.

2. Who Can Own a Gun in South Africa?

Acquiring a firearm license is no small feat. To be eligible to own a gun and apply for your gun license in South Africa, you must be:

  • A South African citizen or permanent resident (21 years or older)
  • Mentally stable and physically fit
  • Pass a background check
  • Have no criminal record
  • Be free from drug and alcohol dependence

3. How Many Guns Can I legally Own in South Africa?

For most gun owners and avid sport shooters, the standard answer is one to four firearms. However, the limit on how many firearms you are legally allowed to own in South Africa depends on the purpose and type of firearm license:

  • For Self-Defence: One shotgun or one handgun
  • Occasional hunting/sport shooting: Up to four firearms (limited types)
  • Dedicated hunting/sport shooting: No limit (requires membership and proof of need or specific requirements)
  • Business purposes: No limit (e.g: security companies, shooting instructors, etc)

4. How Long is a Gun License Valid?

Firearm licenses and competency certificates require renewal 90 days before expiry. Failure to renew is illegal and necessitates firearm disposal or surrender to the SAPS. Click here to read more about firearm license renewals.

Firearm License Validity in South Africa:

  • Self-defense: 5 years
  • Occasional hunting/sport shooting: 10 years
  • Dedicated hunting/sport shooting: 10 years
  • Business purposes: 5 years

5. Where can I get a gun licence in South Africa?

Getting a gun license in South Africa can be a complicated process that takes time, effort and dedication. However, the gun licensing process can be a rewarding and educational experience for those serious about owning and using a firearm.

If you’re looking to get a gun licence in South Africa, you will first need to find a PFTC (The Professional Firearms Trainers Council) accredited firearm training and licensing centre. Gun Fun is a fully-licensed training centre and indoor shooting range, and our staff will be happy to assist you with purchasing your firearm training manuals, completing your proficiency certificate, applying for your competency certificate, and finally submitting your firearm license application form with your nearest SAPS.

Learn more about How to Get a Gun License in South Africa

6. When and Where can I use my Gun?

Owning and possessing a firearm is not to be taken lightly. Remember, guns are lethal weapons and misusing your firearm (pointing it at people, discharging in public, etc) can lead to criminal charges and license revocation. Legally, firearms can only be used:

  • In safe and secure, designated locations. For many gun owners, the most popular option is a shooting range, like Gun Fun, which offer private shootings bays and practice targets.
  • For lawful purposes (e.g: self-defence against unlawful attack)

7. When is Self-Defence Justifiable?

Owning a firearm for self-defence is a significant responsibility. As approximately 6 out of 10 of all privately owned firearms are licensed for self-defence, there has even been much debate about whether having a firearm licensing category for self-defence is safe for the general public. And, while using necessary force to defend oneself is legal, the situation must be:

  • Proportionate: The force used cannot exceed the threat. (e.g., responding to a punch with a gunshot is excessive)
  • Justified: Shooting someone after an intruder leaves is not self-defence. There must be sufficient cause and evidence that you were under proportionate threat. Remember, having an intruder in your home doesn’t automatically justify shooting them. Assess the immediate danger to your life before using a firearm.
  • Consider the context: While facing an armed attacker, self-defence shooting might be justified in certain situations. However, reacting to a fistfight or unarmed attackers with a firearm is not.
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