The scenario is as follows: You carry your self-defence firearm on you at all times. While travelling on a public road, you see a SAPS-controlled road block ahead. You come to a stop and a SAPS official waves you over to the side of the road. He requests your driver’s licence, and also asks if you are carrying any firearms. How do you respond?
In terms of Section 13 (8) of the SA Police Service Act 68 of 1995, the SAPS has the power and authority to set up a road block on a public road In terms of 31 (b) of the National Road Traffic Control Act 93 of 1996, the Traffic Police and Metro Police have similar powers. These sections must also be read in conjunction with certain provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, such as powers of arrest and search and seizure in certain circumstances.
In terms of the above Acts, the SAPS does have the power and authority to stop vehicles at a designated, marked and controlled road block on a public road. The driver of the vehicle has a legal obligation to stop. At such a road block the police may ask the driver of the vehicle as well as the occupants if they are carrying any firearms. In terms of the law you then have to advise the police that you are carrying a firearm. In terms of Section 107 of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 (FCA), the police official is then entitled to, in terms of Section 107 (2) (b) of the FCA, request that any such firearm be produced for inspection.
The police are also entitled to inspect the firearm and licence to confirm the validity of the licence against the firearm. You thus have a legal responsibility to disclose or furnish the police with the licence for the firearm and to show the police the firearm. If you fail to produce the licence at the same time that the firearm is presented, the police are entitled to seize the firearm in terms of Section 107 (3), without a warrant, and to retain the firearm in custody until the licence has been produced.
What do you do if you have advised the police that you do have a firearm?
This depends a lot on the training of the police officers. Unfortunately, some officers are trained incorrectly in dealing with firearms safely.
My advice in such circumstances is to deal with the police in a reasonable manner and to advise the officer that you are willing to co-operate. However, you do not wish to draw the firearm or present it within public view. Do not just draw the firearm and hand it over, as this may result in a dangerous situation. The police official does not know who you are and whether you are a law-abiding citizen or a criminal.
It would extremely unsafe to simply hand over your loaded firearm to a police officer when one is sitting in your vehicle and expect him to make your firearm safe, as this could be potentially dangerous for all parties concerned.
Once you have parked your vehicle, exit it and proceed with the officer to a nearby safe area, such as an official van or vehicle, and then render the firearm safe so that the police officer can examine it. We would also recommend that the police have some kind of safety area available with sand bags or bullet trap.
Safe for inspection
Show the police officer that the firearm is now safe and ready for inspection, and then present your licence. Use a clear manner to indicate to the police official what are intend to do at all times.
In the event that you do not have your licence on you, this could have serious implications per Section 107 (3). The police would then be entitled to seize the firearm and to withhold in custody until the necessary licence for it is produced. You must cooperate and hand the firearm over. Always insist on a receipt, as well as noting all the details of the police officials in question, and at which police station your firearm will be held, according to its jurisdiction. Section 106 (1) (a) of the FCA then gives you seven (7) days to present the firearm licence to that police station.
Of course, it is always advisable to carry your original licence on you at all times in order to avoid such an unpleasant situation.
Check out Damian’s article originally published on the Gun Africa website – Edition 24.