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We need more gun owners in South Africa, not less

By Gideon Daniel Joubert

Gun ownership in South Africa has again been thrust into the spotlight, in no small part thanks to the high-profile criminal case against Oscar Pistorius gracing our television screens and the front pages of almost every newspaper. It is mindboggling that the allegedly negligent actions of but one famous public figure can reflect so badly on an entire population of lawful and responsible gun owners, the vast majority of which will likely never discharge their firearms at another human being during the course of their lives. Unfair but not unexpected: there is a deluge of misinformation about the nature of firearms and firearm ownership propagated through the media and organisations like Gun Free South Africa, and the public readily believe this due to ignorance regarding the issue.

I carry my legally owned handgun with me every day as prescribed by law, and I do so for a very simple reason: If there is a criminal who wishes to do me or my family harm, I now possess the capacity to fight off his attack and protect my life and the lives of my loved ones. Our criminal element are not renowned for their courtesy to dispatch written notice to their intended victims as to the where, when and how they plan to perpetrate their vile deeds. They strike when they believe their target least expects it, using the element of surprise and extreme violence to achieve their objective. It is crucial to be prepared for that eventuality: a gun owned for self-defence is utterly useless locked away in a safe when you need it most. I am far from the only person in my social circle that carries his gun concealed on him every day, most of my friends do exactly the same. We are all firmly aware that a great responsibility is thrust upon our individual shoulders when one owns and carries a firearm, and it is not something we as a community take lightly. We are not “Rambos” or “cowboys” or self-appointed guardians of our fellow man: we are just normal everyday people going about our business and staying out of trouble. We avoid confrontations. We avoid doing things or going to places that we consider too risky or too unsafe. In essence we avoid as far as is humanly possible getting ourselves into situations where we would be forced to use deadly force to defend our lives. There is the argument that citizens do not possess sufficient training or proficiency to use their guns to protect themselves, which is I disagree with. There are frequent reports in the media of successful defensive gun use by ordinary citizens, in many cases without fatalities.

South African firearms legislation, the Firearms Control Act of 2000 (FCA), is among the most restrictive and onerous gun laws in the world. It has failed to stem the out of control violence in our country perpetrated by criminals: the horrendous amount of people killed monthly in Manenberg, Mitchell’s Plain and Lavender Hill attest to that. Not surprisingly, none of the guns used in the numerous daily criminal acts are legally owned firearms. Criminals do not tend to bother licensing their weapons. There is the argument that if no civilians could legally own guns the criminals would be devoid of their source, which is naïve and ignorant: the SAPS and SANDF lose hundreds, if not thousands, of their firearms yearly. There are no prizes for guessing where these lost firearms turn up. Our criminal element has a virtually limitless source of guns with which to ply their violent trade, and the only thing a prohibition on legal civilian firearm ownership will achieve is to make law-abiding citizens completely defenceless. There are frequent media reports on the inefficiency of the South African Police in responding to violent crimes in progress. Would any citizen want to gamble their and their family’s lives on the response time of our SAPS? I truly hope not. What we desperately need in this country is more legal civilian firearm ownership, not less of it.

If there is any doubt in your mind regarding the conduct or nature of gun owners in South Africa, I invite you to find visit your nearest active shooting range. You may be surprised at the warm welcome you will receive and how much you may learn from experiencing what it really is all about.

Gideon Daniel Joubert is an airline pilot by profession, a devoted husband, and dedicated sport shooter. Residing in Strand, Western Cape.

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  • 211 Responses to “We need more gun owners in South Africa, not less”

    1. Todor #

      @Koos

      And now we are getting somewhere. You acknowledge that guns aren’t the problem and instead socio-economic factors are the issue that needs tackling to reduce violence, so how exactly is spending billions of tax payer money on gun control a sound policy when guns aren’t the real problem?

      The argument “for gun control” is expecting our government to put in place effective laws and systems to “control guns” (don’t really know what you mean by that) and thus reduce violence in our society, and yet FCA has cost us billions of rands and has had zero impact on crime.

      Our law enforcement is badly broken, and fixing this is a pre-requisite to any solution we push for that involves “more laws”. Until we can enforce them – those laws have the same worth as toilet paper.

      “We need more gun owners” is a debate for personal responsibility. Where YOU decide to spend YOUR money on a gun, and then YOUR own time on learning how to use it to ensure YOUR personal safety.

      The government is not accountable to anyone if the rights of an individual are violated – they are only looking at society as a herd, and as discussed already they can only respond to objective threats. Where government fails to address concerns or simply doesn’t interfere – the free market jumps in.

      Public transport sucks – we buy cars or have a taxi industry. Education system is broken – private or home schooling.

      Can’t guarantee my right to life or property? I chose what works for…

      April 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm
    2. Todor #

      The more important question still – if guns aren’t the problem then why the rhetoric for control?

      Could it be that “gun control” has nothing to do with guns and everything to do with control in the first place?

      My litmus test for any system is “would you be happy with this system in the hands of a dictator?”. For governments change and so does their agenda.

      Given our current political landscape self-defence is closely followed by the argument for “balance of power”. I want guns in civilian hands because I don’t trust my government to have all guns in the country.

      April 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm
    3. Comrade Koos #

      @Todor

      Do you really believe a handfull of disgruntled citizens that do not trust government stand a chance against the tanks and rocket launchers of the army, from the fire power of the air-force, from the armed vehicles and automatic rifles of a well armed police force?

      I think you are dreaming in a little world of your own.

      In addition, Marikana would have been one hell of a mess if all the workers were armed to the teeth with semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. :-)

      >>

      If you arm the civilians to protect themselves against government where do you stop?

      To make it a fair fight, civilians should then be allowed hand-grenades, rocket launchers, some naval ships, helicopter gun-ships, radar equipment, and shrapnel mines, maybe some anti-aircraft guns, and a few anti-tank mines.

      Dream on Todor. :-) :-) :-) ;-) he, he, …you are so funny.

      In the civilised world we protect ourselves via the constitution, courts and the ballot box, Todor, the constitution, courts and the ballot box !! :-)

      >>

      April 6, 2014 at 5:32 pm
    4. Japie #

      @Todor

      cc @zoo keeper @Gideon David Joubert

      The problem is the gun lobby try and discredit main-stream science. If they want respect from the public they must drop the propaganda and respect science.

      * The methodologies of peer reviewed studies that support gun control have undergone the peer review process before publication. So both the methodologies and findings of the studies are sound.

      * If there is no published peer review research to prove that the Gun Control Act (2000) in South Africa caused an increase in robberies then this claim by the pro-gun lobby is mere speculation and should be relegated to the garbage heap.

      * There is peer reviewed research that shows that gun control reduces gun homicides without increasing other forms of homicide. Kindly refrain from misleading the public my making irresponsible statements to the contrary.

      THANK YOU.

      April 6, 2014 at 7:33 pm
    5. Todor #

      @Koos

      I am not sure how civilised you think the world is in 2014, but I don’t recall a single murder victim in history ever being protected by a law or a court.

      Also, the ballot box? Apparently I am the funny one. I am not afraid of a government that steps down when they are voted out. I am afraid of the one that doesn’t.

      As for whether I believe a handful of disgruntled individuals stand a chance – just look at Arab spring. You are naive to think that the people who work in government agree with government, and I am placing my trust in them to pick sides should something like this happen.

      Also, you are making an ASSumption that I am implying I want guns to fight a tyrannical government. Maybe. Firs things first though (learning from history) when society and law collapses it is the looters and gangs that I am worried about. When your government is too busy oppressing its citizens, the last thing on its mind is protecting them too…

      April 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm
    6. Todor #

      You have already decided that you are a victim and the only tool you have against a criminal or a government is compliance and a vote (Because. civilised society)

      I like to keep my options open for those who don’t believe in the idea. And that tally so far is my tally over 10 years:

      -25+ encounters with armed robbers on duty (did I mention I am a police officer?). In only 3 of those were gunshots exchanged. In almost all of those the suspects outnumbered us.
      -two attempted hijackings (in one of them I was outnumbered 4 to 1)
      -one citizen’s arrests catching armed robbers.

      Surely after all the evidence you’ve given us and the situation I found myself in the odds were heavily stacked against me? I could’ve just picked the less risky way out and walk away.

      Or is it that because I chose to adjust my mindset (I believe I stand a chance), tools (I carry a gun 24/7) and behaviour (I train using my gun),that I no longer fit the statistical curve?

      The “game of violence” starts with the decision to act first, then tools and training improve your odds. If you’ve already decided not to act then you’ve lost before the fight even started.

      And to insinuate that I don’t vote or believe in the legal system is pretty lame of you ;) I vote and wear a uniform for society. I carry a gun for me and my family.

      It is your mindset I challenge, Koos. The tools are irrelevant.

      April 6, 2014 at 8:57 pm
    7. @Comrade Koos:
      Do you really believe it’s relevant whether citizens with guns are effective against government guns? I don’t think it is relevant at all, at least it doesn’t really tell us anything about whether guns should be allowed or not. If they’re not effective in this case, we might as well allow them.

      Why did Steve Biko die in prison? He should’ve just dealt with his abusers in a ‘civilised’ way. In a civilised world, we also don’t break into someone’s property or take their stuff.

      And my question remains unanswered: Why aren’t you arguing for outlawing cars? They still kill far more people than guns do.

      April 6, 2014 at 9:04 pm
    8. Todor #

      Or the simplest possible way to say this: I expect the system to make sure crime never finds me, I carry a gun for when the system fails.

      It’s a symbiosis. When I win society wins too. If I lose – society gets on a high horse, becomes outraged and calls for “somebody to do something about violence”. And by “somebody” they usually mean “somebody else”.

      April 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm
    9. Bang Bang Gang #

      # “If a responsible, mentally sound American wants to own and AR-15, that’s their right. Besides, when the zombies come…okay, you don’t like the zombie thing. When the Chinese invade our country, who do you want to depend on? The over-extended police force and the National Guard? Or the next door neighbor who’s a former Marine and has enough guns and ammunition for your entire block?”
      ― Aaron B. Powell, Priority

      # “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of Constitutional power.” ― Thomas Jefferson

      # “Nothing is more effective, and nothing frightens the powers that be more, than large-scale peaceful resistance: young people, old people, mothers with strollers, the rich, the poor, people of all religions and races, joined together in common and peaceful cause. A million unarmed people will do more to bring about revolution than 300 million guns in America.” – The Founding Fathers Versus The Gun Nuts – By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program http://truth-out.org

      April 6, 2014 at 9:51 pm
    10. zoo keeper #

      Koos

      You really believe that?

      The army is an extension of society, and so are the police. They are the professionals of society paid to do jobs which the rest of society does not have the time to do.

      Society is the police, and the police are the society. Robert Peel said that.

      There is no difference between a citizen and a soldier or a policeman.

      If you understand that fundamental aspect of society, your argument fails dismally.

      If you believe there is a difference, then you view the society as being corralled by these elements, controlled by them. They are separate to the society and serve what, or who’s purpose? That is not a free society.

      Should citizens be able to own all those things? Why not?

      Do the maths Koos. An old tank will cost you about R1m to buy and get into running condition. Then it eats a couple of liters of fuel per km. To fire the main gun will cost about R50 000 per round.

      Spare parts? A crew? Maintenance and storage?

      If you allowed private ownership, how many will be owned at that cost? Precious few obviously.

      So banning ownership to less than a handful of individuals will accomplish what?

      So why is it illegal?

      It is you who seek to remove the rights of society.

      The onus is on you to justify the restriction.

      April 7, 2014 at 8:59 am
    11. zoo keeper #

      Koos

      “In the civilised world we protect ourselves via the constitution, courts and the ballot box”

      How did we get the ballot box in the first place? How did we get the constitution in the first place? How did we get independent courts in the first place?

      And if all those fail, what do you do?

      Were you born yesterday? Are you a person with no history?

      In a pitched battle against a modern army, a ragtag will have trouble. But how does the army pacify the populace? With boots on the ground.

      It has to be spread out, thin and vulnerable to guerrilla attack. How did Ho Chi Min do against the overwhelming might of the US in Vietnam? How did the Taliban do against the overwhelming might of Russia in Afghanistan?

      Its deterrence in its simplest form. If the population is armed, pushing troops and police into towns and cities is far too risky. Every nook and cranny is potentially a source of firepower. In that scenario, the political decision to oppress becomes next to impossible to take.

      The problem is avoided before it becomes a problem.

      Marikana? If those strikers were armed with Ar-15s, would the police have attacked at all?

      Not a chance and you know that.

      The most plausible result would have been a peaceful end with both sides too wary to engage. Left with no ability to use force, the police would have had to fall back on reason.

      April 7, 2014 at 9:11 am