Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 | Author:

A very important topic in South Africa is to do with firearms and our rights to our personal security. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not in the belief that everyone should have the right to bear a bazooka, M82, or AK-47 * – not unless you have to defend yourself against an army **.

However, I do believe that I have the right to own a weapon of some sort for the purpose of self defense. I doubt I’d ever purchase a firearm however, not even a small pistol, but I’d prefer to think that should the need arise, I still have the right.

There are 2 opposing teams. There’s the pro-gun team and the anti-gun team (pro-control). I once thought that it would be okay for, say, the pro-control team to win all the battles until we get down to where only small firearms are allowed, or perhaps larger firearms under very strict circumstances. Recently, my thinking has shifted. If the pro-control team wins all the legal battles up to that point, what’s to say they won’t win the next battle as well and outlaw firearms completely?

I’m on the pro-gun team simply because I believe that I should have the right to own, possibly, that small pistol – which in a way is silly because I’ll probably never exercise the right. Its most definitely not pointless however. Again, I’d rather have the right and not need it.

Picture this highly unlikely scenario: You want to protect your right to own a small pistol; personal bazookas and gatling cannons are legal; legislation is in place to start making bazookas and gatling cannons illegal. Assuming you’re pro-pistol, should you stand aside and let the opposing team (pro-control) win that legal battle? Its an important moral dilemma to think about – and one that you should probably apply to all your other political beliefs.

Here is some food for thought:

  • South Africa has the highest (or second-highest, depending on who you ask) crime rate in the world.
  • 98% of gun-related crime in South Africa involve the use of illegal (unlicensed) firearms (ie, gun control laws do not adequately curb gun-related crime).
  • Due to relatively recent changes in firearms laws requiring the re-licensing of all previously-licensed firearms, the CFR (Central Firearms Register) has been tasked, for the period of 2006 to 2009, to process more than four times the number of license applications each year than ever previously processed in an individual year.
  • It now takes between 12 and 24 months to get a firearms license.

To be honest, I’m still of two minds on this one. I’m very much in favour of being responsible for our country’s firearms – but I certainly don’t want the pro-control group to make any more “progress”.

Maybe the world could learn a thing or 2 from the Swiss. Their citizenry has been armed to the teeth since the 19th century – and they’re also the only country to have stayed out of both World Wars.

* For those who do own firearms, I sincerely hope you’re not delusional about the dangers. I hope you have the ammunition stored in a safe separate from your firearm’s own safe, and that everyone in the household understands and respects how dangerous firearms really are.

** Not likely.

Category: random, rights
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8 Responses

  1. There is no single situation conceivable that will not be made worse by the addition, in any way, of a firearm of any description.

    If armed men are breaking into your house, and you have a gun, they will kill you outright, because you are a threat. You might be lucky and get one or two of them first, but you’ve already noted how guns and ammunition should be stored separately, and securely: in order to keep your guns safe from your children, you have to make them effectively inaccessible to yourself when you really (think that you) need them. I’d further note that these men are used to guns and used to shooting people – you are just somebody who owns a gun because you help it will somehow help you.

    (If you do not have a gun, and they break in, your chances of living are slightly increased, because, since you’re not a threat, they might lock or tie you up.)

    I’ll say it again: there is no situation where the existence of firearms (even in the possession of the “goodies”) will improve the outcome.

    I’d further note that if you are able to “shoot the baddies”, you’re also able (and likely) to shoot your teenage son when he tries to sneak home from partying at 5am.

    You are simply not somebody who should be burdened with the responsibility of who to try to kill.

    To summarise: guns are bad.

  2. 2

    Your assessment may be correct for the majority of persons in this country, and possibly even most situations.

    I think that it comes down to your personal attitude towards firearms. I *do* believe that a psychological assessment is a good idea for the process of acquiring a license.

    The main attitude contrast can best be shown by comparing Switzerland to the US:
    Switzerland has a regulated militia, whereas the US has many separate militias, where only the National Guard of each state could be counted as a regulated militia. Effectively, the majority of the US’s “militia” is unregulated. Both countries have very lax gun-control laws. Switzerland, until 1999 had *no* federal gun control laws. The 1 law they have had since before 1999 is the one *requiring* all male citizens between the age of 20 and 42 to keep an automatic rifle in their home. The law introduced in 1999 now also requires these rifle-owners to periodically engage in combat and marksmanship training.

    Yet in the US, you are about 6 times as likely to be a victim of gun-related crime than in Switzerland.

    The Swiss have indoctrinated a positive attitude into their citizens and are the better for it. In sunny SA, you have to do that for yourself.

    I agree that you shouldn’t think just because you have a gun that you are capable of using it. This is where training comes in. There are many firearms training facilities in the country. Their numbers are dwindling however.

    On the topic of being tied up instead of killed, I don’t have a family yet, though I do plan on having one. I’m not so sure I or my (future) family would be better off if I were tied up while my wife and daughters are raped. Sure, given the firearm, there is still a slightly higher chance that I might be killed and that would not be a better situation in any way. That is a risk assessment that someone applying for a license needs to make for themselves. I believe this is also a part of the psychological assessment.

    Again, your personal attitude towards the firearm is very important. The burden of taking life (or limb) should be a conscious decision – one you make even before you apply for a license. If you can’t decide honestly and absolutely, firearms are not for you.

  3. Intruders can have their way with my wife and kids over my dead body. Obviously, I will want to take as many of them as I can with me.

    That said, I do not own a gun at this time, since the combination of where I live and my perimeter security give me reasonable peace of mind, and all security is a trade off – introducing a gun into my house at this point would be too risky.

    If I did purchase a gun, it would be under the following conditions: My entire family would be trained to respect the weapon, and all those old enough would be trained to use it effectively – starting with “Never point it at anyone, under any conditions, unless you mean to shoot them”. The weapon would be stored appropriately to the conditions of the time: from unloaded in the safe (useless tactically but relatively safe and potentially useful in the future) to cocked and locked on my person.

    Having an unloaded gun in a safe is quicker to access than a 12 to 24 month wait for the licence…

  4. 4
    Graham P 

    Give guns to Swiss people, and nothing happens (to crime). Their culture is non-violent.

    Give guns to South Africans (without the means to recover unlicensed arms) and the muggers on the street won’t be coming at you with just knives any more.

    Large numbers of guns in the country is *not* the cause of violent crime. If you have a violent country, that is independent of the presence or absence of weaponry. But if you do have a violent country (like SA), don’t go making guns easily available.

    Switzerland can do what they please, but I’m in favour of stricter gun control, particularly sales and imports, in South Africa.

  5. To “family_guy”: this kind of irrational, emotional gut reaction is pretty much the only argument I’ve ever heard from the pro-gun crowd. “They’ll have their way with my family over my dead body”. Yes. Yes, you’re right. They will shoot you, and then have their way with your family.

    This foaming at the mouth about “I’LL KILL THEM ALL” ridiculous. It leaves out all the real arguments about guns and whether or not they’ll have any effect, and lapses back into a red-eyed hatred of the baddies.

    You’re not Rambo.

  6. That is very naive Jonathan. I have been in three situations where having a firearm was a great help, and things would have turned ugly for quite a few people if I wasn’t armed. It turned ugly for 3 people, but I’m very sure they knew the risks when they got up that morning and pocketed their illegally acquired firearms. I was in a fourth situation that might also have turned out better if I had been armed. That sounds like a monologue from a Rambo movie, I don’t know how to make it less cheesy sounding. *blush*
    I could of course be making this up and there really is no conceivable reason to own a gun. I’m not, but how could I possibly prove it?
    Actually I’m against people owning guns. Most people are absolute idiots and lose their guns, get drunk and shoot people or get them taken from them and possibly get shot with their own firearm. If I have to lose my right to own a firearm to keep them out of the hands of the other idiots out there, fine.

  7. 7
    Peter ProGun 

    Like Graham pointed out, we live in a dangerous and violent society and that is the problem. If it wasn’t for firearms they’d probably use the next best thing. A knife, garden fork or machete. It really doesn’t matter. They’ll find something, anything, since the idea is to gain the upper hand.

    I tend to agree with family_guy. The fact of the matter is your family depend on you to protect them.
    I’m of the opinion I’d rather die or go to jail to protect my family than do nothing – and this is really the end of the discussion. Not all of us have some British passport…

    That being said, I do believe guns should be safely locked away and only used as a last resort.

  8. 8

    I agree that most people that own firearms are idiots and in most cases it turns out to be to their disadvantage but in my case (and I don’t own a firearm) if I did I would go through extensive advanced training to make sure I know how to use one and more importantly, when to use it. one of the previous comments states that most of the “robbers” know how to use their weapon. this surely cannot be the case. first of all most of them use stolen guns and often had not even used that specific gun before. second, if they could afford the extensive training that I would get then they would not be robbing people in the first place. And believe me, a lot of these guys are almost as scared, if not as scared as you are. surely I am in a better position to use my firearm more effectively than they are? it is the same thing as saying 15% of the time, the person would have survived a car accident if they were not wearing their seat belt. Is that a risk you are going to take? If you are properly trained on all aspects of owning a firearm your chances of a better result are better than your chances without. In the end of the day, it all comes down to how serious you are about the firearm and if you are buying it to make yourself feel safer, or if you are actually going to do what it takes (extensive training) to actually make it safer in reality. Unfortunately, in reality, most of the time its just to make you feel safer and that, in the end, is more dangerous than not having it in the first place. But I can guarantee, in my case it would work to my advantage because I am realistic and serious about it and I am not doing it to add a few inches like most do….

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