As part of the Disarm Domestic Violence campaign, IANSA women from the Ceasefire Campaign in South Africa have undertaken a short-term media monitoring project to continue to highlight the need for better implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) relating to firearms.

The DVA is widely regarded as one of the more progressive examples of such legislation internationally. The Firearms Control Act 2000 specifies that a gun licence will be refused to anyone with a record of domestic violence and the 1998 DVA includes provisions to seize firearms from offenders after a protection order is granted.

Though the laws complement each other more needs to be done. Both Acts need to be correctly and effectively implemented to ensure that firearms are immediately removed from abusive intimate partners.

  • Clearer guidelines must be devised for police as to when to affect an arrest when confronted with a domestic violence incident;
  • Section 3 of the DVA is amended to direct the police officer to arrest ('must arrest') instead of offering s/he the option to arrest ('may arrest');
  • Police must question witnesses at the scene of a domestic violence incident, and search for a firearm and remove it, regardless of the state of the alleged abuser or alleged threats with a firearm, and;
  • The interim application order must be strengthened by introducing more questions relating to the presence of firearms; transferring responsibility for requesting the removal of the gun from the complainant to the police, and;
  • Improved wording to make it clear that the firearm must be removed immediately rather than the date specified on the final protection order.

Such media monitoring also helps to demonstrate just how many incidents of armed domestic violence take place in a particular city or country, and show that this is a phenomenon that can to be stopped.

The Ceasefire Campaign hopes it will inspire other IANSA members to engage in similar action and share the results.