Picture-301According to a TimesLIVE article on the 11th of February, several civil society groups have launched a ‘#GunFreeValentine’ campaign in response to research apparently showing “that 57% of women killed in South Africa are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends”.

According to an Institute for Security Studies ‘gender expert’, various interventions are required to “reduce risk and build resilience”. Long-term interventions such as appropriate parenting and job creation are apparently inadequate while short-term answers such as removing firearms after a threat to kill has been made, are deemed more effective.

Pro-gun control organization Gun Free SA says that there is a misperception in South Africa when it comes to gun ownership. In South Africa, which is supposedly “a patriarchal country”, it is a ‘myth’ that a firearm contributes to the safety of the owner and his loved-ones. This is because women are more likely to be killed by their partners and their legally owned firearms, instead of strangers.

Sonke Gender Justice, which also supports the campaign, says the initiative is aimed at alerting women “to the risks of a gun in the home”. They explain that legislation “give[s] women the power” to have the authorities confiscate firearms “or other dangerous weapons” after complaints of domestic violence.

For example, the Domestic Violence Act provides in section 9 that a court may order that weaponry be seized if the intention to initiate force has been expressed, or if the party has a mental condition, inclination to violence or intoxicants. This provision is not gender-specific.

The article appears exactly the same (verbatim) on the websites of the Institute for Security Studies and Gun Free SA, as well as on TimesLIVE. It is unclear where it appeared first or who authored the document.

The article concludes with the following, worrying line:

“Any woman who lives in fear of a gun or other dangerous weapon in her home can ask the police or the courts to remove the weapon immediately.”

This is a patent falsehood. The law provides that the courts may order the removal of weaponry as it considers a protection order. An individual who has an irrational fear of firearms cannot move into the home of a firearm owner and decree that the weapon must be removed by the authorities. An actual reason would be required, and personal preference or historical experience cannot, in any court worthy of the name, be seen as such.

If this person is living with someone who they fear might kill them at any moment, the problem does not lay with the firearm or weapon, but with the perverted circumstances as a whole. Once a serious individual has resolved to murder his or her intimate partner, the absence of a firearm would make no notable difference in the tragedy that is to follow. Murder by smothering or poisoning are just two methods that can be employed with the help of a wide range of ordinary household items.

Statistics may show that firearms are used in the majority of cases (although this is questionable), but this can be attributed to convenience. The fact that it was a gun, and not another weapon, is an irrelevant factor. If there was no gun available, the next best thing would have been used. The push for increased gun control must logically be a slippery slope, because once firearms are removed entirely, we’ll need to move on to knives, pillows, and cleaning products.

Of course, what the Domestic Violence Act provides is appropriate in this regard. When a victim has been threatened and applies for a protection order, courts must obviously be empowered to seize weapons from the suspect. Threatening to kill someone is an unequivocal instance of aggression which should be dealt with promptly and severely.

IMG-20160212-WA0000However, we should be careful not to be misled by the sophistry and questionable reasoning of these civil society groups. With all the nonsense cut away, it is very clearly implied that the gun is the problem, and that without the gun, these relationships can continue healthily and normally. What they are, in fact, addressing, is domestic violence, not gun ownership. But they have, by way of wording, cut domestic violence from the picture entirely, and are attempting instead to portray gun ownership as a kind of ‘violence’ in and of itself.

The sophistry doesn’t get any worse than the title of these identical articles: “If your partner owns a gun‚ you could be the next target.”

Does it follow that owning a gun means someone has ‘targets’, especially as is implied here, human targets? Surely not. The title, without anyone even having the opportunity to consider the wall of text that follows, already makes gun owners seem like common criminals.

Collectivism and identity politics is addressed sufficiently elsewhere here at the Rational Standard, so I will not comment on the clear gender-obsession of each of these advocacy groups involved.

Are guns used as tools to do evil? Definitely. But pens adding presidential signatures to laws have caused much more suffering. The problem is not the tool but the state of mind of the perpetrator. Yes, without the gun, it is true that their plans are interfered with slightly, but I sincerely doubt that any committed would-be murder has put his scheming to a stop simply because he can’t get his hands on a gun. What I am fairly certain has happened, though, is that someone who might have been able to defend themselves with a gun, was denied the ability to own one.

Let us take the example of Minister of Safety and Security v Van Duivenboden. In this case from 2002 (the events transpired in 1995), Neil Brooks, intoxicated and aggressive, decided to kill his entire family. After killing his eleven-year-old daughter, Nicole, he chased his wife, Dawn, into their neighbor’s (Dirk van Duivenboden’s) home. His son, Aaron, who had taken possession of Dawn’s revolver, handed the gun to Van Duivenboden. After Brooks shot Van Duivenboden in the leg, he shot and killed Dawn and returned to finish Van Duivenboden off. But with Dawn’s revolver, Van Duivenboden was able to fight Brooks off. Brooks was later arrested.

In this case, the police had failed, prior to the tragic event, to take Brooks’ guns away from him. Dawn had requested it (clearly, with reason) but they did not cooperate. Van Duivenboden sued the police for this to cover his damages.

Without guns in the Brooks household, Neil would have likely stabbed his wife and children to death, robbing Aaron of the opportunity to escape. What’s more likely, is that with increased gun control, the Brooks would have been allowed only one firearm in the house, thus allowing Neil to off his entire family and Van Duivenboden without any resistance. The presence of Dawn’s revolver led to Aaron and Van Duivenboden escaping with their lives. The theoretical absence of Neil’s gun wouldn’t have negated his intoxication and desire for murder.

Make no mistake: gun control only harms those who seek to use firearms in defense of themselves and their property. Those who seek to do harm will do harm regardless. They will likely get their hands on firearms anyway, or they will be, as they usually are, very creative in finding other ways to achieve their ends. Those who seek to defend themselves, however, do not have the same luxury of ‘premeditated self-defense’. Our high walls and panic buttons can only get us so far.

Martin is a final year law student at the University of Pretoria and the Academic Programs Director for Students For Liberty in Southern Africa (www.studentsforliberty.org/africa/). He is a co-founder and editor of the Rational Standard and the Editor-in-Chief of Being Libertarian (www.beinglibertarian.com).

You can find him on Facebook or contact him via email at [email protected]