The Dangerous Weapons Act 2013 act 15 of 2013 and what it means to paintball/ airsoft players in South Africa.
The are various rumours that in the new legislation “paintball and airsoft guns can be illegal according to law” well in that same context a butter knife or plastic bag can be as well. A huge misconception is that this law when implemented would mean that on route to or from a paintball game or when ever transporting paintball or airsoft markers you could be arrested and your marker taken from you, this is not true, depending on circumstances.
This article was written by “Casualty” to explain the new act in layman’s terms and also will be including direct quotes from the law books so here goes. This Act came into power on January 2nd 2014.
The definition of a dangerous weapon according to the new act reads as follows:
“A dangerous weapon” means any object, other than a fire arm, capable of causing death or inflicting serious bodily harm, IF IT WERE USED FOR AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE”
So to break this down it means ANY OBJECT other than a fire arm (these are governed under The fire arms act) which is CAPABLE OF CAUSING DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY to a person IF USED IN AN UNLAWFUL MANNER.
So as I stated in the opening even a plastic bag if used to strangle someone could be classified as a dangerous weapon. The same goes for a drinking glass or even a shoe it all depends in the manner it is used and weather it is being done legally or illegally.
Now I know you’re sitting there thinking my marker is a dangerous weapon and the sport is going to die because of this new legislation but fear not as there are exceptions to this act as it does not apply to the following:
a) Possession of dangerous weapons in pursuit of any LAWFUL EMPLOYMENT,DUTY OR ACTIVITY
B) Possession of dangerous weapons during the participation in any religious or cultural activities OR LAWFUL SPORT, RECREATION OR ENTERTAINMENT or
C) As part of a legitimate collection , display or exhibition of weapons
Now this right here is what covers us , but keep in mind that if you are going to stand in your yard in a suburb shooting at tin targets (just an example) this would be illegal as the discharge of any air rifle or paintball marker is prohibited by local statutes and you could face a fine or even confiscation of your marker , in fact if somehow you were to shoot over the target and hit a passing person you could be charged with a whole bunch of things ranging from assault with a dangerous weapon, contravening the dangerous weapons act and even a charge as serious as pointing of a fire arm, yes you read right, you could be charged for pointing of a fire arm if you point your marker at a person and they open a case against you. Yes a paintball marker is not a fire arm BUT the act regarding to pointing of a fire arm states that if the victim truly believed that you were pointing a real fire arm at them you could be found guilty.
So now that you understand the act you are wondering how do I protect myself and my gear from being confiscated accidentally due to a miss understanding well that’s the easy part its rather simple and most players are already doing this.
A) Never carry an assembled marker in public, always have your marker in a concealed bag or marker bag DO NOT take it out unless you are in your own house or a friends house or at a paintball field
B) Do not fire your marker unless at a paintball field or if working on it in a safe environment
C) Costume parties are fun but leave your marker at home accidents happen way to fast
D) Use common sense if you are transporting your marker to a shop,event or camping area/lodge/hotel try and keep it disassembled and in a bag out of the public view in the case of mils markers and /or airsoft markers try and have a business card of the field or contact number for event staff in case you get pulled over and questioned as to the reason for being in possession of said markers
E) Last but not least in the event you are confronted by law enforcement relax and give co-operation if you were not doing anything illegal you shouldn’t have to worry at all how ever if you were doing something illegal using a paintball or airsoft marker I have no mercy and think you should feel the full force of the law. As according to the Amendment of section 120 (10) of the Firearms control act ,2000( ACT 60 of 2000)
“It is an offence to be in possession of any fire arm, arraign,deactivated firearm, muzzle loading firearm, or imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence or to use in an effort to resist arrest or prevent the arrest of another person”
Any person who contravenes the provisions of sec 120 (10) (b) of the fire arms control act, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding but up to twenty five years.
With all this in mind it is important to apply your mind in a responsible and accountable manner in such a way that you prevent any unnecessary judicial proceeding and /or negative publicity for our sport.
Sources- SOUTH AFRICA. 201 ACT NO. 15 of 2013 DANGEROUS WEAPONS ACT, 2013.
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE. CIRCULAR 1/1/4/1 (10) ENTRY INTO FORCE AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW DANGEROUS WEAPONS ACT, 2013