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For Visiting Hunters: Entering And Travelling With Guns In South Africa

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Having travelled between Colorado, Wyoming and Utah I have personal experience of the issues implied in the following email I recently received from Gunbroker:

"Fellow Patriot,

In America, Gun Owners Risk Potential Jail Time and Fines When They Travel with Their Guns Without Being Aware of Each State's Laws.

And it isn't just the few Anti-Gun States like New Jersey and New York that are Getting Gun Owners in Trouble. Gun Owners even find themselves against the law in states like Wyoming & Texas when they mistakenly enter “off limits” areas.

That's why every year at this time I offer up my 2nd Amendment Bible for FREE

In it you’ll learn all the most CURRENT rules and regs."

Voere .375 H&H on a hunt

For the visiting hunter to South Africa, having been organised a temporary import permit by his PH / Outfitter for his legally owned hunting rifles and ammunition (each hunter can bring 200 rds of ammunition for every hunting rifle he brings into the country), he has exactly the same freedom of carry and movement of his firearms out here as local gun owners have.

There are no conflicting laws amongst the nine provinces in South Africa - very often during a visitor's hunting travels we cross two provincial borders to hunt in a third one. No policeman or any law enforcement officer is even allowed to ask you whether you are armed or whether you have firearms or ammunition in your vehicle. The law is very clear on the transport of legally owned firearms: you can go anywhere you wish with it to engage in legal activities of your choice with your firearms. The owner or his agent (PH) of course needs to be in control of his guns, meaning that we shall never let them be in an unattended vehicle.

We do have one irritating situation and that is that apart from South African Airways all the other domestic airlines have stopped carrying firearms (they do however carry live ammunition if in a locked metal container, which is kept in the cockpit and handed to you on arrival at your destination).

To solve this problem dedicated overnight firearms courier services have been established. They are registered and may be seen as mobile FFL holders. They assume the exact reponsibility of safe control of the firearms as you as the owner have. Should anything happen to any firearm in their possession they face the same fine and 20 years in jail that negligent owners face (for instance leaving a firearm in an unattended vehicle and if it is seen and stolen).

The cost of this courier service is about $40 for two gun cases and it is the owner's reponsibility to pack the rifles securely to prevent physical damage. They have an online tracking facility whereby the owner can accurately determine the location of the firearm after having identified himself to the system.

My sons and I have made use of this service quite a number of times between Pretoria and Cape Town (1,000 miles), timing the arrival of my firearms at a physical address to be a few hours after my own arrival by air in order to take personal possession from the courier. These facilities are widely used by hunters who travel by air to hunt in the distant provinces like the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Kalahari.

Bringing firearms into South Africa

Every country in the world has regulations to prevent the entry of illegal firearms and South Africa is no exception. However, because foreign tourism is such a big business here and because hunters are treated as VIP tourists, the customs processes for hunters' firearms are organised, streamlined and effective.

The proposed hunter, after having received the final confirmation and invitation for his planned hunts, three weeks before arrival supplies the PH / Outfitter with his flight number, passport details, home address and make, calibre and serial numbers of the guns he wishes to use during his hunts. The Outfitter / PH fills out an application for a temporary import permit on a dedicated form, emails it to the hunter who signs and returns it. The PH presents this application to the authorities and one week before arrival receives the import permit which he scans and emails to the hunter.

From boarding his first flight in the USA the hunter carries this import permit on his person and on arrival after customs clearance the PH takes the hunter to gun customs where his rifle case will already be on the counter. The hunter then unlocks his gun case and shows his import permit, the official cross-checks the details of the firearms with the information on his online system and the permit and within five minutes we are on our way. My own joy during this process is to observe the "oohs" and "aahs" uttered by the officials regarding the appearance of the rifles or shotguns - particularly those of European origin.

Returning to the USA the process is even quicker as Delta Airlines have dedicated gun carriers who personally take hunters' firearms through customs all the way to on board.

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