According to a local lawyer who has researched the firearm licensing process in South Africa, the majority of firearm license refusals were because of “lack of motivation” or “failure to convince the registrar”. This highlights the importance of the motivation letter, which really is your only opportunity to convince the registrar that you truly need a firearm for self-defense while proving that you are fit to be in possession of a firearm.
A good motivation letter for a self defense handgun should consist of the the following sections:
- Write an introduction
- Explain why you need a handgun for self-defense
- Explain why you need this specific handgun for self-defense.
- If you have an existing handgun, explain why you cannot use that particular firearm for self-defense.
- Explain why you are fit to carry a firearm for self-defense.
- Give details about your proficiency training and competency certificate.
- Explain how and where you will be storing the handgun when not in use.
- Conclude the letter with a declaration.
While you are writing the motivation letter, try to put yourself in the shoes of the registrar. They do not know you from a bar of soap. So while keeping the letter as brief as possible, you need to convince them that you are fit, responsible and that your need for a self defense handgun truly exists. Remember, that you should be able to back up any claims that you make on the letter, so be truthful.
If you want to drastically increase your chances of getting your license approved, read on as I take you through the motivation letter, section by section. If you are not in the mood to read this whole article, scroll down to the bottom for the summary and a free pdf template motivation letter.
1. Write an Introduction
Your introduction is going to be addressed to the senior officer at the central firearms registry and will consist of your full name and ID number, the date, and all of your contact details including home and work details.
Here you should also state under what section of the Firearms Control Act you will be applying for a license, in this case, Section 13: Self Defense. You should also tell the registrar what type of firearm you are applying for a license, for example, a self-loading handgun.
Be respectful, address the person as sir/ma’am. Being cocky is not going to help here. Keep in mind that according to the constitution of South Africa, possession of a firearm is not a right, but a privilege by law regulated under the Firearms Control Act.
You will also want to prove what you are stating by attaching a certified copy of your ID and proof of residence. You should also keep in mind that any claims you make in your motivation letter, should be proven by attaching supporting documents.
Here is an example of a well-written introduction. Feel free to use it as a template, but I warn you not to copy and paste anything. If the registrar detects that you simply copied your motivation in any way, you will lose all credibility and will severely increase the chance of being refused the license.
[YOUR FULL NAME]
TO: THE SENIOR OFFICER, CENTRAL FIREARMS REGISTRY, SAPS
FIREARM MOTIVATION OF [FULL NAME], [ID NUMBER] FOR SECTION 13, SELF-DEFENSE – HANDGUN
RE: Motivation for the licensing of a firearm in terms of Section 13 of the Firearms Control Act. (Act no. 60 of 2000) for self-defense.
I am [YOUR FULL NAME], ID number [YOUR ID NUMBER], and [AGE] years of age at the time of this application. I am a South African citizen & reside at [HOME ADDRESS].
I am reachable by phone at [CELL PHONE NUMBER], or email [YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS]. I am a [JOB DESCRIPTION] at a company called [COMPANY NAME] situated in [WORK ADDRESS].
This application to possess a firearm for Self Defense is motivated in terms of Section 13(2) of the Firearms Control Act. (Act 60 of 2000).
The firearm is a [DESCRIPTION OF FIREARM], a self-loading handgun in line with Section 13(1) of the Firearms Control Act. (Act 60 of 2000).
Firearm Motivation Introduction Checklist
- Write in big letters “FIREARM MOTIVATION OF [FULL NAME], [ID NUMBER] FOR SECTION 13, SELF-DEFENSE“
- Were you respectful?
- Did you introduce yourself? Who are you, where do you line and work, and what kind of work do you do for a living?
- Did you put all of your contact details in the letter? Email, phone, home, and work address?
- Did you state that you are applying for a license under Section 13: Self Defense?
- Did you describe the type of firearm you are applying for?
- Attach a certified copy of your ID and proof of residence.
2. Explain why you need a handgun for self-defense
Now you need to get into the juice of the letter. This is by far the most important section. This is where you need to convince the registrar that you truly need a handgun for self-defense. You cannot use vague statements here like “Crime in South Africa is on the increase” or hearsay like “There has been a lot of attacks in my area lately” without proof that back those statements up.
Here are some points to consider when demonstrating a need for a self-defense handgun:
- Has there been an increase in violent crime in your area? Be sure to point that out.
- Have there have been any violent assaults in your area in the past few years? Check the internet and local newspapers and be sure to attach the reports as proof. I would even go as far as to interview victims and ask them to write a statement for you with their contact details.
- Look at the SAPS crime stats website and other sites such as Crime Stats SA for accurate reports on crimes in your home and work area. You can also use internet news sites such as News24 who has a crime section on their website, etc. Mention any stats that you find in your area, and be sure to print those out and attach them to your motivation as proof.
- Have a look at where you live, and point out any dangers that might justify your need for a firearm. Are there bushes in your streets? Are there any blind spots or dark areas around the entrance of your property? Do you have to drive through a dangerous area to get home? Take photos or draw diagrams that you can attach to your motivation letter.
- Think about your lifestyle, do you come home late at night after work? That might be another reason that you would want to mention. Are you a single woman or an older person, or a person with a disability living alone making you a vulnerable target?
- Do you get paid in a lot of cash? This could make you a target to armed criminals.
- Try not to focus on your work circumstances too much, as the registrar may start to get the idea that a “license to possess a firearm for business purposes” would be better suited and they might refuse your self-defense license accordingly.
- Are you a vulnerable person? If you are a lady with a small frame, or an older person, or someone with a physical disability, then you should mention that too. This demographic is an easy target for criminals because they are not easily able to defend themselves.
|2. WHY DO I NEED A HANDGUN FOR SELF DEFENSE?|
I need a handgun for the purposes of self-defense as there has been a constant rise in violent crime by armed criminals in our area as well as surrounding areas that I travel through, to, and from work (Please see attached crime stats from the SAPS website). I need this specific firearm to carry on my person when coming and going from my property.
I come home late at night from work and my street is dark and isolated making me and my wife vulnerable to an attack. There have been multiple armed attacks in [YOUR TOWN] and directly surrounding areas with this exact modus operandi – attacking vulnerable victims while leaving or arriving at their gate (please see attached newspaper articles and SAPS crime stats for my area).
According to Crime Stats SA and SAPS, there have been 117 murders in the Durban/Westville areas in 2010, and 149 murders in 2019 (an increase of 32 murders per year) In the past 5 years there have been a total 674 murders in the Durban and surrounding areas. In addition to that, in 2019 alone there have been 139 cases of attempted murder in the Durban, Pinetown, Westville, and surrounding areas. These figures exclude assaults with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm which is over 700 cases in the past year. With these statistics in mind, I feel it is reasonable to request that this license for self-defense be approved.
3. Explain why you need this specific handgun for self-defense.
Now that you have explained to the registrar why you need a firearm for self-defense, you now need to convince them that the firearm for which you are applying will fulfill that role. You might be tempted to think that your choice of firearm is none of their business, but this kind of attitude will not help you get approval.
Assuming that you bought the correct firearm, explain to the registrar why you chose that particular firearm for self-defense. This is also an opportunity to show the registrar that you are serious about obtaining a firearm and that you have done your research on the matter. Explain why you chose the particular caliber, make, and model.
Be sure to emphasize the firearms safety features, this will put the registrar at ease that the firearm is indeed safe, and it shows that you are a safety conscience person.
Here is a short example of how I explained this in my most recent self defense firearm motivation that was approved.
|3. WHY DO I NEED THIS SPECIFIC FIREARM FOR SELF-DEFENSE|
The reason I need this specific type of firearm is:
The firearm is a “single stack” design and has a short barrel, making it small enough to conceal under my work clothes.
The firearm is very reliable due to its tested and proven design.
The firearm is accurate, so I will know where each shot will go.
The firearm has an external safety which is very important to me.
The firearm is 9mm, which is very affordable, this makes it possible to practice often which allows me to stay proficient and safe.
I have considered many other firearms and after much research and testing, I have come to conclude that the [FIREARM] is the best fit for my circumstances.
4. If you have an existing handgun, explain why you cannot use that particular firearm for self-defense.
Second to “failed to convince the registrar”, another reason for refusal often seen is that the applicant already owns a firearm that can fulfill the role for which a new license is being applied for.
With that in mind, it is important to explain to the registrar that you are not able to, or willing to use any existing handgun that you may own for the purpose of self-defense. Point out why exactly you will not be using your existing handgun for self-defense. Reasons will include the fact that the handgun may be too large, the wrong caliber (too large or too small), and that it will have been licensed to be used for sport shooting or hunting only.
When I applied for my most recent self-defense firearm, I already owned another 9mm, and this is how I explained to the registrar why I can and won’t use that firearm for self-defense.
|4. WHY I CANNOT USE MY EXISTING FIREARMS FOR SELF-DEFENSE|
It is worth noting that I already have a 9mm handgun licensed to my name, however, I cannot use this existing handgun because it is far too large to carry on my person as well as because it is licensed under section 15 as a sport shooting handgun. For this reason, I am applying for a new firearm under section 13 for self-defense which is much better suited for that purpose.
5. Explain why you are fit to carry a firearm for self-defense.
Now you need to explain to the registrar why you are mentally stable, and responsible enough to carry a firearm.
Start off by telling the registrar your entire history with firearms. When did you first start shooting? Who taught you to shoot and safely handle and store firearms? Point out that you have no history of being negligent with a firearm and that you have always been careful with them. It will also help to mention any involvement in sport shooting and memberships of any sport shooting clubs. This will help to demonstrate that you have experience with the safe handling and storage of firearms.
I have been shooting with my father since I was a child, and have continued that hobby into my adulthood as a dedicated sport shooter, and this is how I demonstrated that in my self-defense license application.
|5. MY EXPERIENCE AND SAFETY WITH FIREARMS|
As a young boy, I was introduced to firearms by my father. I was always shown how to safely store a firearm and use it in a safe manner. I have always been very careful with firearms and have had respect for them. This has continued to be true throughout my entire childhood and as an adult, and as a result, I have a high level of safety awareness & experience in the safe handling & storage of firearms.
I also have a dedicated sports shooting status with NHSA and regularly take part in shooting events and I have been registered with them for over 5 years. This experience has made me very safety conscious and responsible with firearms.
6. Give details about your proficiency training and competency certificate.
Up until now, you have had your say with regards to the need for a firearm for self-defense, explained why the specific firearm is suitable for the purpose you are applying and your circumstance, that you are responsible and mentally stable. The next part is where you get a bit more technical.
Proficiency training information and certificates
In this section explain to the registrar that you have done the proficiency training according to the requirements of the Firearms Control Act. You will give them the information about your training, such as the training provider, course number, certificate number, date, contact details, and anything else you think will be relevant.
You should have applied for a competency certificate prior to applying for your license to possess a firearm.
In this section, you need to provide information about your SAPS competency certificate, which is obtainable from your DFO at your local police station. Make sure you mention your competency certificate number and attach a copy of the certificate to your motivation letter.
|6. PROFICIENCY TRAINING AND COMPETENCY CERTIFICATE|
I have successfully completed the proficiency training in the SASSETA Unit Standards for Knowledge of the Firearms Control Act. (Act no. 60 of 2000) and the handle and use a Handgun as required by the Firearms Control Act.
The training was completed at the following institution:
Provider: [NAME OF TRAINING PROVIDER]
Certificate no: [CERTIFICATE NUMBER]
Course no: [COURSE NUMBER]
PFTC Accreditation no: [PFTC ACCREDITATION NUMBER]
SAPS Accreditation no: [SAPS ACCREDITATION NUMBER]
Tel: [TRAINING PROVIDERS CONTACT NUMBER]
Address: [TRAINING PROVIDER BUSINESS ADDRESS]
I also have been approved the relevant competency certificate to possess a handgun for self-defense. My competency certificate number is [COMPETENCY CERTIFICATE NUMBER], and was approved on [APPROVAL DATE].
7. Explain how and where you will be storing the handgun when not in use.
One of the biggest concerns the Central Firearm Registry has is that of lost and stolen firearms ending up in the hands of criminals, and rightly so. The majority of firearm-related crime is committed with lost or stolen firearms, many of which were lost by SAPS themselves, but that is irrelevant to our application.
Here the goal is to convince the registrar that you have taken all the steps to make sure the firearm is always safe, even when not in your possession. Start by describing the safe that you have had installed, and be sure to explain that it complies with the relevant SABS standards as required by the police. To make sure your safe complies, be sure to read my article: “What are the gun safe requirements for South Africa?“
But don’t end it there, go ahead and give the registrar more reasons to feel at ease by mentioning if you have made any other security precautions. These might include alarm systems, security cameras, armed response, dogs, walls, electric fencing, and lighting.
It’s also worth mentioning that you maintain a good relationship with your neighbors.
This is how I did that in my self-defense application.
The firearm will be stored and secured in a safe that meets the requirements as laid down in the Specifications for Storage of Firearms and Ammunition Part 1: Part 1: Safes. (SABS 953-1). ISBN 0-626-12749-1.
The Safe Dimensions are as follows:
Height: [HEIGHT OF SAFE]
Width: [WIDTH OF SAFE]
Depth: [DEPTH OF SAFE]
Thickness: [THICKNESS OF SAFE]
The safe has a double lock and the keys are kept in my possession at all times.
The firearm will be stored securely when not in use in the prescribed safe that is rawl bolted to two walls and the concrete floor by 14 x M10 bolts in accordance to SAPS specifications and out of sight in a cupboard.
I live in a fully furnished house that is secure and fully walled along with an alarm system linked to armed response and two dogs. I also have a good relationship with my neighbors and I am very security conscious and responsible at all times.
8. Conclude the letter with a declaration.
This is the last section in your motivation letter, so be sure to leave it on a good note. Have a sincere but neutral tone as you conclude the letter. Assure the registrar that you have no criminal record (assuming that’s true), and if true, that you have never been accused or found guilty of any offense, inside or outside the borders of South Africa. Go a step further and say that you have never been accused, charged, or found guilty of any offense that can declare you unfit to possess a firearm as for the Firearms Control Act. Also, state that you have no record of any liquor or substance abuse.
Assure the registrar that you have sober habits and lead a healthy and responsible lifestyle. If you have been a firearm owner in the past, be sure to let the registrar know as that shows that you have a proven track record of being a responsible firearm owner.
Offer to put forward family, friends, colleagues, etc. as character references (in addition to the character references required by SAPS in your application), and invite the registrar to contact you directly if they need to clarify anything instead of simply refusing the license as lack of motivation.
After you have dated and signed the letter, include a small section at the end with the title: “REQUEST FOR A PRIOR NOTICE AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE REPRESENTATIONS BEFORE THE DECISION IS MADE”. What you are requesting here is that if the registrar decides to refuse the license, that they contact you with such intent before officially refusing the application, giving you a chance to respond accordingly. It is not proven that it makes any difference, however, it is worth requesting and could save you the trouble of having to appeal a decision that could have been in your favor if you had an opportunity to provide more information or documents.
With that said, make sure that the contact information you gave is up to date should the registrar need to contact you.
I am a law-abiding South African citizen with no criminal record against my name & have never been accused or found guilty of any offences at all, nor any offences that can declare me unfit to possess a firearm as stipulated in Section 9 of the Firearms Control Act 2000 (Act No 60 of 2000).
I have sober habits & lead a healthy & responsible lifestyle. I know & understand the contents of this declaration & I have no objection in taking the prescribed oath. I consider the prescribed oath to be binding on my conscience and to live by it.
I have also proven myself to be responsible to possess a firearm for the past 11 years of being a firearm owner.
I am mentally stable with no record of liquor or substance abuse & consider myself fully qualified to endorse this declaration as true and correct.
It is my intention to comply with the Firearms Control Act No 60 of 2000 and all that is said in my motivation is true & correct. I respectfully request that the firearm licence mentioned in this document will be approved.
I am willing to put forward any of my family, friends or work colleagues to offer testimonials with regards to my character & my mental state. Please contact me if any further information is required in this application.
[YOUR FULL NAME]
REQUEST FOR A PRIOR NOTICE AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE REPRESENTATIONS BEFORE THE DECISION IS MADE
In accordance with (Section 3(2) of the Promotion of the Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA).
Please take note that, if you choose to refuse my application, I would like to be informed/notified about your intention before you make the decision. All of my contact information, including email, physical address and postal address are disclosed at the start of this application. I herewith request that your notice of that intention must be accompanied by the reasons why you want to refuse my application. I kindly request that you also give me a reasonable time/opportunity to submit representations to you on why your decision should not be against me.
According to Section 3(2) of the PAJA, I am legally entitled to have my application processed as requested. If this is not done, the decision is procedurally unfair and I may submit an internal appeal or may ask for a judicial review against such a decision.
“Lack of motivation” or “Failed to convince the registrar” are two of the most commonly used reasons for declining firearm license applications. This is why the motivation letter is so important. You need to completely convince the registrar that you truly need a firearm for self-defense. What’s more, you need to make sure that you back up all your claims with evidence, and avoid hearsay at all costs.
While writing a motivation letter, put yourself in the shoes of the registrar who has the power to approve or decline your firearm license application. Pretend that you are the registrar, and you are looking for any excuse to decline your application.
To make sure you cover all your bases, and to make your letter easy to read, be sure to make sub-headings for each section of your motivation, namely:
- The need for the handgun for self-defense.
- Why you need this specific handgun for self-defense.
- If you have any existing handguns, be sure to explain why they are not suitable for self-defense.
- Explain why you are fit to possess a firearm.
- Give information about your proficiency training and your competency certificate.
- Explain how and where you are going to store the firearm and other security measures that you have implemented to prevent the firearm from being stolen. For example, alarm, armed response, guard dogs, etc.
- Conclude the letter with a respectful declaration.
Throughout the letter, your tone should be firm but highly respectful. You want to avoid sounding arrogant at all costs. After all, you are at the mercy of the registrar and want to give him/her the best impression possible. You want to sound like the law-abiding citizen that you claim to be.
How’s it going with your firearm license motivation letter?
If you are currently struggling with your firearm license motivation letter, remember to keep it simple. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel! I have designed a Section 13: Self Defense handgun motivation template that incorporates all elements that increase the chances of getting your license application approved. This template is based on dozens of real-life license applications and weeks of intensive research.
If you would like to take advantage of this, enter your name and email below to download a copy for free.
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