Pile of Guns and Bullets

The 20th century will go down as the century during which almost every facet of life was centralized, from healthcare right down to private defence and private security. The idea that the State can and should provide these essential services has been a recurring theme of almost all political manifestos and constitutions. The biggest and often most controversial form of centralisation is that of centralizing arms; that is to say, the common folks should surrender all arms and only state sanctioned agents should carry arms, whether they be constables, sheriffs, military, etc. This is what gun control at its essence is about: the prohibition, excessive regulation, or seizure of firearms.

I use the words ‘arms’ and ‘firearms’ loosely because arms were generally understood to be weapons to be operated by the individual, and firearms are a category of arms. Depending on whether you prefer Eurocentric or Amerocentric definitions, it may be acceptable to use the words ‘gun’ and ‘firearm’ interchangeably. Some prefer to call weapons typically carried by an individual infantryman ‘light arms’.

The ideals of gun control are noble — all those who believe in justice want massacres and homicides to stop or at least decrease. But I’m afraid that gun control advocates are highly naïve. Taking guns away from civilians does not necessarily achieve a lower crime rate, nor will it stop massacres from taking place. The fact that despotic regimes have an obsession with disarming the local populace before committing atrocities on them makes it seem that gun control kills.

The 20th century saw its fair share of woefully shameless despots who have sanctioned genocide. Atrocities are difficult to enact on a group who have arms and are prepared to resist. Gun control becomes a mechanism for not only centralising arms but also centralising control over territories. In Armenia, when the government of the Ottoman Turks crushed the revolt by Armenians in 1893, mobs armed and sponsored by the Ottoman Turkish government killed tens of thousands. To further crush any hope of an insurgency, a 1903 gun law was passed that mandated registration of arms and permits to possess arms. Armenians were encouraged to surrender arms they had in their possessions to officials, quotas were enforced and, astonishingly, the officials who filled the quotas were executed for conspiracy against the government. The repressive government of the Ottoman Turks did not stop there: they issued deportation orders on 24th of April 1915. The Turks feared an allied attack that would turn Turkey’s war against Russia into a two-front war during WWI. The genocide continued on for more years. The forced marches into the interior of Armenians is attributed with most of the deaths around this time, but those who were too weak or resisted were cut down with swords or shot. The march was intentionally made to be so difficult that survival was almost impossible.

To this day, Turkey still does not claim responsibility for the atrocities. I started with this example of where gun control kills because, here, a local populace decided to revolt against a central power and were initially defeated. The central government actively sought disarmament of the Armenians so they could not resist any order they were issued, even if those orders meant certain death for Armenians. Even after Armenians complied with gun laws and surrendered their arms, their safety was still not guaranteed. Conversely, those who refused to abide by the laws and orders of the Turks kept their arms. In southern Syria, which was a part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, Armenians retreated to the hills and set up an impregnable defense which repulsed Turkish attacks, causing huge losses to the Turks. The fighters who formed the defensive line were later rescued by French and British Troops. The fighters who took arms and went to the hills are a stark contrast to those who surrendered and complied, for they were not cut down and shot like varmint.

Gun free zone irony
The irony of the gun-free zone is glaring. From: https://gunservant.com/2016/06/29/the-myth-of-a-gun-free-society/

Even in great urban centers where gun control has been tried, chaos and even more mayhem has resulted. Believe it or not, America’s capital Washington D.C had a handgun ban which was supposed to reduce crime or at least reduce gun crime — it has one of the highest violent crime rates in America. Yes, folks, the capital of the greatest power in the world has a relatively high violent crime rate. In fact, most densely populated areas in America and elsewhere have a similar problem. Thankfully, the U.S Supreme Courts put a stop to the folly of the Washington D.C handgun ban in the District of Columbia v. Heller case. Another prominent city that also had in place a handgun ban, is in Chicago, which is derisively called Chiraq because of all the shootings there, despite the handgun ban. The handgun ban there was struck down by the federal courts, too.

Now, I’m not naïve enough to suggest that gun control caused the obscene crime rates, but I make the argument that gun control made it easier for violent crime to take place. It made a target-rich environment for those who want to cause harm and carnage. Also, the biggest flaw of gun control or gun buyback schemes was that only the law abiding complied but the criminals didn’t. There’s simply no honour amongst thieves; the gun control advocates overlooked this.

Closer to home, we see rabid gun control advocates insane enough to disarm the police and military in favor of arms and ammunition being stored in a central vault in a station or army base. Gun Free South Africa even advocates for the South African Police Service to be disarmed of their R5 rifles. Such a call smacks in the face of cruelly-learnt lessons of urban policing and perhaps counter-insurgency tactics. The use of semi-auto or select-fire rifles for police became desirable after the North-Hollywood Shootout and Global Terror attacks of the 70s and 80s. The threat of terrorism still lingers today, where terrorists now prefer to use guns over explosives. A disarmed police, or police armed with only handguns, are a recipe for massacres and insurgency by armed attackers. For the sake of internal security, rational folks have to stand up and speak out against such foolish ideas no matter how well intended they are. You can be skeptical and cynical towards this article, but if gun control doesn’t kill, are you prepared to plead for your life with an armed bandit?

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Malusi is a first year BEng (Bachelor Of Engineering) Civil Engineering student at the University Of Johannesburg. He has worked in the auto industry as a trainee product engineer, then as a lab assistant at the Durban University Of Technology.

Malusi’s interests include: science, technology, firearms, economic theory and military history.