Earlier this year Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) embarked on an advertising campaign on road signs and in the print and electronic media. The catch phrases being, “IF YOUR STOLEN GUN WAS THERE, SO WERE YOU” and “Eighteen South Africans are shot and killed every day. Take responsibility. Hand in your gun.”


SAGA’s interim national council chairman, Stephan Grobler, lodged a complaint at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on the basis that the advertisement was misleading in that it implies that the owner of a stolen gun is responsible for any crime committed with it; that it fails to specify whether these gun-related killings were crime-related, suicides or accidents; that the source was not quoted; and the image of a gun links all firearms to illegal activities.


Having considered SAGA’s objection the ASA made the following ruling: “(T)he advertisement created a misleading impression of the surrounding circumstances, and is therefore in breach of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code”.


In light of this, it ordered that “(i) The advertisement must be withdrawn; (ii) The process to withdraw the advertisement in all forms must be actioned with immediate effect on receipt of this ruling: (iii) The withdrawal of the advertisement in all forms must be completed within the deadlines stipulated by Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide: and (iv) The advertisement may not be used again in its current format or context”.


GFSA then filed a notice of appeal to which SAGA responded. SAGA acknowledged the constitutional right to freedom of expression, but contended, “that the appellant does not have the right to mislead the public or to advocate violence”; “That the right to freedom of speech does not entitle it to convey false and misleading information as the advertisement states that any person whose stolen firearm is used in a criminal act is co-responsible”; and “The advertisement does not make any distinction between firearms that have been lost through criminal actions on the part of third parties”.


At the appeal hearing on 28 October 2014 GFSA and SAGA representatives presented their parties’ respective arguments. The appeal committee of the ASA made a ruling on 11 November 2014 and dismissed the appeal by GFSA. It inter alia said, “The advertisement is misleading in a literal sense in that clearly the owner of the stolen firearm is not present only his firearm is. Taking into account the intention of the advert as stated by the appellant’s (sic) it is clearly aimed at all firearm owners and after making a factual statement it clearly exhorts the firearm owners to hand in their firearms rather than take better care of them. The advertisement does not distinguish between firearm owners who are negligent and had their firearms stolen and those that took every precaution and still had their firearms stolen. It is in that sense that the committee agreed with the Directorate that the advert should be considered on the same basis as the organ Donors Foundation quoted in the Directorate’s ruling”.


This victory for SAGA demonstrates that firearm ownership is a responsibility that is taken seriously by law-abiding citizens in South Africa.


SAGA will continue to fight for the rights of all persons who have exercised their constitutional right to choose to become lawful firearm owners. Know your rights and be safe.


Issued by: John I. Welch

Chairman & Spokesperson

The SAGA Trust

12 November 2014


The South African Gunowners' Association (SAGA) is a non-profit, non-discriminatory organization, whose sole purpose is to represent the interests of all people who embrace the principles of safe and responsible ownership and usage of firearms for sport, recreation, hunting and self-defence.
SAGA is the watchdog that endeavours to safeguard the rights of the South African public by engaging government in discussion regarding firearm related issues and to provide technical assistance and expertise where needed. This is achieved by collecting and disseminating information regarding all aspects of the legitimate use of firearms. This is to enable responsible, non-discriminatory and enforceable legislation that would benefit all South Africans, irrespective of race, colour or creed.


World Forum on Shooting Activities  (WFSA)

The World Forum on Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA) is an ECOSOC NGO at United Nations representing over 100 million hunters and sport shooters.  We also represent most of the major civilian firearms and ammunition manufacturers. SAGA is a paid up voting member and is represented on the EXCO.


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