'Most gun owners are responsible'

Gun laws are back in the spotlight during the 16 Days of Activism campaign.

Gun laws are back in the spotlight during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.

CAPE TOWN - The Police Ministry says the country's legal gun owners are responsible citizens despite several incidents of gun deaths.

Recently Women, Children and Disabled Persons Minister Lulu Xingwana called for stricter enforcement of gun control laws.

Xingwana went on to say Reeva Steenkamp would still be alive if Oscar Pistorius didn't own a gun.

Pistorius will return to court in 2014 after killing Steenkamp in February.

Police Ministry spokesperson Zweli Mnisi told the Redi Tlhabi Show that the majority of gun owners were responsible citizens.

"There is certain criteria which we look into and that is why we are of the view that there are many responsible citizens in South Africa who own firearms and who are responsible with their firearms. It's only those isolated cases whereby you find somebody that has a legal firearm utilising it for wrong purposes."

Mnisi said many people surrendered their firearms during the firearm amnesty in 2010.

"More than 32,000 firearms were recovered during the amnesty and most of them were legal firearms. The interesting aspect is that during the operation, people were voluntarily surrendering their firearms saying they didn't see any need for it anymore."

At the same time, Gun Free South Africa's Adele Kirsten says the Firearm Controls Act has made a difference.

"I think it's been the single most important intervention which has reduced access to guns, it has made it more difficult. In 1994, we had 2.4 million people owning guns and now we are down to 1.8 million."

She says the latest statistics reveal a 50 percent reduction in gun deaths."

However, she says there have been problems with implementation of the act and this is leading to a spike in gun deaths.