Following a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Security and officials from the Ministry of Justice the following emanated:
The Arms and Ammunition Bill that was passed through both Houses of Parliament in 2019 and cannot substantially be changed other than addressing grammatical and syntax errors that were contained in the version the President signed.
Even though the Bill will become an Act it only comes into effect once published in the Government Gazette. The Act will then become law with immediate effect.
The Bill cannot be enacted at this point in time due to certain matters that needs still to be addressed. GOAN forms part of the working group that is tasked to resolve the difficulties identified. These will form an amendment to the present Bill and requires that all changes to go through the usual legislative process again before they can be effected.
Presently the definition of ammunition in the Bill reads that primers, propellant, bullets (projectiles) and cases form part of ammunition. This means components are de facto included in the limit of 200 rounds a person may have in possession. While the possession of powder is regulated by the Explosive Act, one primer, one bullet and one case count as 3 components. This translates to 66,3 loaded cartridges. This would mean the end of reloading as apart from frequent trips to the gun shop the newly acquired amount of components need to be reduced as it would be added to the already loaded cartridges that make up a fixed part of the permissible rounds of ammunition.
It was formally agreed that the definition should be changed to focus on “round” and not “ammunition”. This requires the insertion of a new definition. In that way bullets and cases are no longer seen as part of the 200 rounds of ammunition. Consequence is that with an endorsement of 2400 primers for each licence sufficient components can be kept to maintain a batch of 200 rounds of loaded ammunition This amount and that the primers may not exceeded at any point in time but the cases and bullets are not limited any longer.
There is agreement that firearm owners should be provided opportunity to reduce any ammunition limits exceeding 200 other than shooting it away at an approved shooting range within one month after the provisions of the Bill coming into effect (as it presently stands). GOAN members are encouraged to take stock of their present ammunition supplies and be mindful that it will in future (when the Act comes to effect and the grace period ends) be a criminal offence if more than 200 rounds of ammunition per licence are held in one’s possession.
There was a request to clarify what benchmark had been used to determine special considerations for surplus ammunition required by certain bona fide groups. These groups where approached to provide the necessary SOP’s and MQRS’s that define the bench mark of use. These documents have been submitted to the Minister’s team of experts and will be scrutinised during future engagements in order to see in how far the restrictions that have been laid down in the Bill reflects the actual need, i.e. certain sport codes require a thousand rounds for competitions according to international rules yet will only be awarded 600. This anomaly still needs to be addressed tangibly.
Specific unit standards for competency testing need to be defined, established and registered within the ambit of existing training laws that specify the provisions regarding the use of unit standards in Namibia. The requirements for competency testing need to be written down in regulations by a legal drafter.
A review of existing shooting ranges and the existing safety standards and compliance with the Namibian Environmental Management Act is required before competency testing can commence.
The relevant regulations regarding competency certificates, ballistic testing of weapons with obsolete ammunition, some shotguns gauges that are now grouped with light artillery weapons need to be drafted as regulations.
Mobile ballistic tanks still need to be installed at points of entry into the country in order to capture the ballistic properties of firearms that enter the country such as temporarily imported by hunters and sportspersons.
Particulars regarding ballistic imaging still needs to be covered in a regulation including duration of the process and specifying accreditation procedures of those tasked with ballistic sampling, such as gunsmiths and police officers.
The duration of the present existing licences needs still to be determined and the provisions that describe the transition from the permanent licence to the 5 year limited licence needs to be added.
The allocation and training of NAMPOL personnel tasked with the implementation of the new Act in centres countrywide in the allocated A stations needs still to be finalised.
The E-policing system which is in place already needs to be put online to support the implementation of the provisions of the Act.
A joint communication platform will be set up between NAMPOL and GOAN to inform the public and the various government sectors on the progress and anticipated timeline of implementation of the Bill. Presently no concrete date can be provided and updates will follow as soon as there is clarity.
In terms of its engagement plan GOAN achieved its first strategic aim to caution against a hastily enactment of the Arms and Ammunition Bill that was destined to come into effect in December 2019 and to strive for a legally sound document that prevents continuous Court battles in future.
GOAN also achieved its second strategic aim which is to engage with the authorities into debate on the new Bill and to contribute towards a seamless implementation of the Bill.
GOAN do not need any resistance from stakeholders which can seriously hamper the ability to put the required documentation/participation on behalf of all gun owners in place. This would be rather unfortunate as one would expect that the possession of firearms in a country where firearm rights are NOT enshrined in the constitution, should draw universal support from all firearm owners and not only a few. There are still 79 000 gun owners out of 80 000 not part of the process.
Point 18 and the 3rd strategic aim to keep a standing committee exchange with the authorities is, however, in jeopardy due to a lack of funding of GOANS efforts. Only about 1000 out of 80 000 contributed financially.
The 4th strategic aim is encompassing and entails that GOAN is turned into a formal organisation that is driven by paid employees in order to increase its administrative and bargaining capacity. The best experts come at a cost and for this a solid financial base is required. It is not possible to expect some volunteers to sacrifice their personal and professional time for years to come with very little support from those who are not interested what the future will hold for their firearms. Pressure on private gun ownership is increasing and a long term engagement from the established platforms is required.
A big word of thanks to all those individuals, associations and companies who supported GOAN’s efforts by becoming members, paying membership fees and volunteering their services to bring about essential changes. Without this support the Act would have been enacted in December 2019 and it would have involved costly and prolonged legal battles to harmonise it with existing realities.
Visit our website www.goanamibia.org to join or contact me for more information at [email protected]