Tragic Cop Killings Now A Justification For Tougher Gun Control?
According to an eNCA report, President Jacob Zuma has called for stricter gun control measures to be adopted in South Africa in the wake of several murders of police officers.
The President believes that disarming citizens is a “long term solution” to cop killings, as he said while visiting the family of deceased JMPD officer Simon Mabatamela. Zuma wants civil society and government to cooperate in determining the best way to ‘effectively rid society of guns’.
This however is not the first time this particular President has called for tighter firearm restrictions. In March this year the National Firearms Summit convened in Parliament, spearheaded by the Police Committee in response to a suggestion by Zuma for stricter gun control. The 1990s also saw many new restrictions of firearm ownership, some worse than those prior to our first democratic election.
Gun Free South Africa is a civil society organization dedicated to ridding the streets and homes of South Africa of firearms. They are one of the most active champions of post-1994 South Africa’s anti-gun movement. According to their website, they played a large part in the adoption of the Firearms Control Act (60 of 2000), as well as the (very tragic) omission of a right to bear arms in the 1996 Constitution.
“During the drafting of the South African Constitution, which is recognised worldwide for its pioneering approach to human rights, GFSA activists lobbied hard to ensure that gun ownership is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, but a privilege granted by the State that can be revoked at any time.”
– Gun Free South Africa website
It is true, and often misunderstood by many gun-owning South Africans, that there is no protected right to own a firearm in our legal dispensation. The State can repeal the legislation which ordains citizens with this privilege at any time with a simple parliamentary majority, which the ANC still comfortably possesses. The courts, right up to the Constitutional Court, will not be able to step in, given the fact that such legislation would be perfectly valid under our Constitution. Some may argue that it will violate the property rights clause (Section 25), however I am willing to guarantee that the superior courts of this country will not see it in that light.
Thankfully, organizations such as the South African Gunowners Association (SAGA) and Gun Owners of South Africa (GOSA) stand to oppose the efforts of those with blind trust in the benevolence of the State. Broadly, these pro-gun organizations hold the common sense view, shared by myself, that criminals shrug off the existence of gun control measures, and that legislation and regulations on firearm use and ownership only hurts those law-abiding citizens who seek to defend themselves.
It takes a special kind of ignorant, child-like trust in the government and its incompetent police force to believe that the solution to South Africa’s out of control violent crime problem is disarming the citizenry. It is a natural right, above any statute, including the Constitution, to defend oneself against action that seeks to violate person or property. The President and his government are dancing on the graves of the dead police officers, celebrating the fresh new reasons they have to encroach upon the people’s liberties. It’s a sad time for the families of the deceased, but a sadder time for freedom in South Africa.
Stay vigilant for any developments in our law and public policy in this regard.