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It may already be too late for dad's gun

Some people may just be made an example of in the enforcement of the Firearms Control Act. SA Wingshooters was told that there are thousands of firearms in deceased estates that have not been properly re-licensed or transferred or legally disposed of. Once the Firearms Amnesty runs out on 30 June, it appears that a concerted blitz could be carried out by the Police to inspect the status of guns still licensed in the name of deceased persons. If a member holds an inherited firearm or is the executor of a deceased estate with fi rearms, great care must be taken to make sure that all the documentation is correct and complete, otherwise the holder of the firearm will be prosecuted for holding an illegal firearm, which is a criminal offence with severe penalties.

Directly after death

An heir, next of kin or member of the deceasedís family who has proper storage facilities for fi rearms must take the fi rearms of the deceased person into his possession and in terms of Section 21 of the Act immediately apply for a temporary permit to possess a fi rearm. An application must be made on SAPS 518 and must be handed in to the relevant Designated Firearms Offi cer in the area where the applicant resides, with all documentation as prescribed by Regulations 13 and 23 of the Act. In terms of Section 21 the temporary permit must be valid at least until an appointment of executor notifi cation has been issued.

Notification of Estate

With notification of the estate to the nominated executor or the person who will administer the estate:
  1. Provide full particulars of the deceasedís firearms and ammunition so that an inventory can be drawn up with all the particulars as defined more fully in Regulation 103(3)(a) of the Act.
  2. Provide full particulars of the person who has the deceased personís firearms and ammunition in safekeeping as well as whether such a person has a temporary permit, issued in terms of Section 21 of the Act. If such a permit was in fact issued, a copy must be submitted.

Action by the Executor

After receipt of notification of the appointment as executor, the person who acts as executor of the estate must take the necessary steps to ensure that the firearm and ammunition are stored safely in an approved storage facility as prescribed by Regulation 86 of the Act. Where an heir holds a licence, has authorisation or a permit issued in terms of the Act, such an heir can qualify for the safe storage of the deceased personís firearm and ammunition on condition that the executor does not have the required storage facility.

If the executor is satisfied that, according to the information at his disposal, the heir is competent to hold the deceasedís firearms and ammunition in trust, he issues a letter of consent to the heir concerned for the storage of the firearms and ammunition. A copy of the letter of consent must be lodged with the Designated Firearms Officer of the area where the heir lives, with a request that he visit the person who has been given permission to keep the firearms in safe storage, to ensure that all the requirements are being complied with.

The permission must specify how long the person concerned may hold the firearms in safe storage, the reason for the safekeeping as well as adequate particulars to enable identifi cation of the licence, permit or authorisation and the firearm. The letter of permission must contain the name, identity number and physical address before death of the licence-holder and exactly the same information in respect of the person to whom such permission has been given. The permission is for storage only and not for use. If no proper storage facilities are available, arrangements must be made with a licensed firearms dealer who has storage facilities for storage of the firearms.

The storage costs are for the estate account. The same also applies where a firearm carrier/conveyer must be used for the transport of the firearms. Only the person who holds a licence, or has authorisation to possess the firearm may transport that firearm to and from the place where the firearm is safely stored.

Within 14 days of receipt of notification of appointment of executor, the Registrar of Firearms must be provided with the following documents and information:
  • Inventory as referred to above
  • Name of the deceased and the physical address at which he resided
  • Address at which the firearms are stored
  • A copy of the executorís letter of permission to the heir for storage
  • Copy of the death certificate
  • Copy of the executorís letter of appointment
  • Names, addresses and ID of all the beneficiaries if the firearms and ammunition must be transferred per testamentary stipulations or law of intestate succession.
The Registrar must then record the particulars in the Central Firearms Register and acknowledge receipt thereof. At least every three months the executor must inform the Registrar in writing of the progress and the steps taken to transfer such firearms and ammunition, with particulars of the person/persons to whom these items are being transferred.

As soon as the solvency and liquidity of the estate has been established, the heir is given possession of all the documentation from the executor for transfer of the firearm. This documentation includes a properly completed SAPS 271, a copy of the executorís letter and permission for the transfer of the firearm. A copy of the permission must be sent to the Central Firearms Registry for information. As the application for a firearm licence can be a long and time-consuming process, it is utterly essential that the heir commence the process immediately. All documentation must be completed in black ink.

In the case of firearms that cannot be traced by the executor, next of kin or heir, the procedure for stolen or lost firearms must be followed. The Act determines that an executor cannot finally wind up the estate before the Central Firearms Registry has confirmed to him that all firearms that were in the name of the deceased have been transferred.

(Kindly provided by Sanlam Estate Managers)

Download the full instructions here.