The Dedicated versus the dedicated

By Phillip Marais

The Firearms Control Act, 60 of 2000 (FCA) has brought with it a term that proved to dominate many a firearms-related debate in the years after its implementation.

Starting in the definitions, the terms “dedicated hunter” and “dedicated sports person” soon became talking points, loosely referred to as DSS, or “dedicated shooter status”.

The reason, of course, being section 16 of the aforementioned act, which allows a person with DSS to possess more firearms than the general limitation of four firearms.

Soon it became clear that it was not all that difficult to become such a dedicated hunter or sports person. Compliance with the act in this regard was (and is) not an insurmountable barrier to entry, and soon enough a vast amount of shooters became “dedicated”.

And this is where the politics of semantics began.

You see, “dedicated” has different meanings.

The drafters of FCA has thought it prudent to give definition to their idea of a “dedicated” shooter, by codifying it in the act. Hunting and sporting organisations can apply for accreditation from the SAPS (who are the administrators of the FCA), and once accredited, can “award” DSS to their members, subject to compliance with their internal procedures.

It is important to note that these organisations have been accredited – approved – by the SAPS. Once DSS is granted, the member is now considered a dedicated shooter in terms of the FCA, and qualifies for the extra privileges afforded by the act.

Not a thing more needs to be done by such member. There are no degrees of dedication for the purposes envisioned by the FCA.

It is a gun-control technique written into the FCA by which more control is exerted over those who wish to possess firearms, and once complied with its relevance must not be overstated.

“Dedicated”, in its plain language meaning, can be defined as being devoted to a task or purpose. This is a whole different kettle of fish.

Degrees of dedication are surely present. Some pistol shooters may scoff at another that shoots 1000 rounds per year, while they are pushing 20 000 or more. They, in turn, may be surprised that the likes of Vogel et al may shoot that amount per month.

Some may spend an hour each day dry firing and practicing shooting-specific skills. Another may only take out his sporting gun from the safe every time he intends to participate in a match.

It is patently clear that the one is more dedicated than the other.

The problem that occurs is one of semantics. We have seen a clouding of the issues, because the words are the same. We have seen sporting and hunting organisations slated because obtaining (and maintaining) DSS with them was seen as “too easy”. Ie, “You cannot possibly be afforded the same privileges as I am because I am more dedicated than you.” “Your organisation makes it too easy.” “We are all at risk of losing our guns because your organisation’s rules aren’t as onerous as mine.”

The clichés of the “circular firing squad” and “we are own worst enemy” come to mind. We are quick to shout “Molon Labe!” but quicker to throw our own in front the bus.

Regardless of the differences between the internal procedures of organisations, if they are accredited they are accredited: nobody is being thrown under the bus because one organisation is just less onerous and more user-friendly than another.

There is nothing wrong with being proud of your dedication to the sport. In fact outstanding results are only achieved by the truly dedicated, those that put in the time, money, effort and personal sacrifice into their chosen sport. It is commendable and must not be put down in any shape or form.

And yet, similarly, it must not be confused with the gun-control tactic of the FCA. Your dedication to your chosen shooting discipline cannot be used as an argument against the requirements of an organisation, accredited by SAPS, in line with their mandate to administer and enforce the FCA, purely because the drafters chose the term “dedicated”.

Become dedicated. Be proud of it. Do not be tempted to be proud of your FCA-enforced “dedicated” status. And do not confuse the two.

Phillip is a forum moderator, sport shooter and general know-it-all. Coming from a legal background, he fancies himself knowledgeable on gun rights. He detests generalisations, and thinks that Glock is better than CZ.

7 thoughts on “The Dedicated versus the dedicated

  1. Perfectly clear, and well put. People forget that someone who can only afford to shoot 50 rounds every other month – and shoot it, is still just as dedicated as the person who can afford to shoot 20,000 rounds a month, who can afford it (or gets sponsored). Everyone has different backgrounds and different financial allowances. The shooting community definitely needs to moderate itself in this regard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the distinction between “dedicated according to the act” and “dedicated to the sport” is important here.

    I’m very proud to be dedicated to my sport. I go to a lot of trouble to take part and I spend a lot of money (more than I should) to do so. I firmly believe that you cannot beat someone who works harder at the game than you do.

    Having said that, I also believe the FCA is a deliberate effort to make firearm ownership as difficult and illogical as possible. This includes the drivel of allowing a sports organisation to decide whether I can own more than four firearms and 20 brazilian rounds of ammunition.

    Ceterum censeo FCA esse delendam

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said! I think if you are a shooter of 50 rds or 2000 rds per month you are dedicated enough! We need to learn to respect each other & support our sport weather it is hunting, pins, IDPA or IPSC or what ever your chosen discipline is! Only in this way, together as “shooters” will we gain the needed ground & numbers to change the ludicrous laws we are faced with as shooters.


  4. Dedicated status is a gun control tactic. Next is: “how is it that someone could own 20 guns?” and so the control tightens. Get them used to some control, then control some more, then some more, then some more.

    People should simply be able to own how many they like without having to justify their choices to anyone, least of all the police.


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