If Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Would Have Guns

Needless to say, in a country where more than 50 murders, 115 rapes, and 100 carjackings are reported each and every day, the thought of disarming the nearly 4.5 million legal gun owners in South Africa is idiotic and insane.

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1887 3
Firearm Gun Control Rights Guns

Growing up, my father had shelves full of the classic frontier novels by the American novelist and short-story writer, Louis L’Amour. These novels portrayed, unsurprisingly, a shrewd and sagacious philosophy often seen in Western stories. I have always admired how Western novels discerned between right and wrong through common-sense and an intuitive savvy that often lacks in our contemporary world.

In one of L’Amour’s Sacketts novels, the writer memorably writes that, “when guns are outlawed only the outlaws will have guns.” These words are as true today in 21st century South Africa as they were in the world of 1877 that L’Amour once depicted. Unfortunately, this common-sense logic is not as common when it comes to the firearm debate in South Africa.

The South African Minister of Police recently announced the national government’s plans to amend the Firearms Control Act to, among other things, exclude self-defence as a reason to own a firearm. Undoubtedly, the Minister of Police has neither read the astute words of L’Amour nor has he recently spent a day out and about in South African streets without his full armed entourage following him around and protecting him from the ever-increasing crime epidemic South Africa faces.

Needless to say, in a country where more than 50 murders, 115 rapes, and 100 carjackings are reported each and every day, the thought of disarming the nearly 4.5 million legal gun owners in South Africa is idiotic and insane. However, as we have grown accustomed to, our government rarely shies away from idiocy and insanity.

It does not require profound insight or vast knowledge of crime statistics in South Africa to know that our country has a serious and arguably unequalled problem with crime. Despite this obvious problem, some have argued that South Africa should follow in the footsteps of other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia where relatively successful sweeping disarmament of the public has taken place.

What these proponents of gun confiscation however lose sight of is the criminal-infested context in which they are advocating for limiting gun ownership. Without venturing into the philosophical debate over gun ownership and an individual’s inherent right to bear arms, it should be emphasised that a person’s right to protect him or herself should be proportional to the threat to that person’s life.

In the United Kingdom, this equates to the odd use of a Narwhal tusk once in a while as a British civil servant, Darryn Frost, famously did in 2019. In Britain, Australia, and various other countries where gun ownership for the purpose of self-defence is limited, illegal firearm ownership and the use of illegal firearms in crimes are similarly limited. However, in South Africa, illegal firearms are unbridledly used by thugs and criminals. The threats posed to South African lives are unquestionably greater and more lethal than those of the countries that various gun confiscators refer to in support of their witless arguments.

The recent plans by the Minister of Police to prohibit gun ownership for purposes of self-defence not only puts South Africans in peril but it makes criminals out of law-abiding citizens.

There are arguably three categories of people in possession of firearms in South Africa. Firstly, those in possession of illegal firearms who use those firearms illegally. Secondly, those who are in possession of legal firearms and who use them illegally. And lastly, those who are in possession of and own legal firearms and who use them legally as law-abiding citizens.

The amendment proposed by the Minister of Police only targets the last-mentioned category: The only group of South Africans who actually own and use their firearms for legal and legally justifiable reasons.

In a country infested with crime, one has to wonder and question the motives of a government that seeks to disarm those who legally possess firearms rather than refocusing its efforts on tackling the daunting crime epidemic. Should the Minister of Police have his way, it would simply boil down to a situation, as L’Amour described, where only South African “outlaws” will have firearms and the rest of South Africa is left at the mercy of criminals armed to the teeth and who do not fear the South African Police Service’s nearly 20-minute average response time.

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  1. Michael Frederik Muller PRETORIUS Reply

    Is daar ‘n manier waarop ek kan beswaar maak teen die voorgestelde wetgewing om my te ontneem van die reg om ‘n vuurwapen te besit om my self te verdedig?

    1. Daniël Eloff Reply

      Gaan kyk gerus na organisasies soos AfriForum en DearSA (daar is ook verskeie ander) wat platforms geskep het vir elke individu om beswaar te maak.

  2. Rory Short Reply

    As someone, whose family was saved from further injury by housebreakers when he discharged his gun to frighten them off my property, I simply cannot understand what the minister of police intends with this legislation.

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