Gun-free in South Africa

Shoot at Own Risk
A few years ago the government started making it increasingly difficult to own a firearm. Many people who'd previously had several guns were forced, by law, to reduce the number of firearms that they own as well as ensure that the remaining ones were properly locked away in a safe.

At the same time the government launched a campaign that provided an amnesty period, during which time illegal firearms could be handed over the the police without fear of prosecution. During that time thousands of guns were dropped off at local police stations - everything from standard hand guns to high-powered AK-47 machine guns.

Perhaps we don't see the fruit of that exercise, but I believe that it must have had an effect. We'll never rid ourselves of violence - people will always kill people by whatever means - but I do believe that the new laws must have reduced the number of impulse killings and the number of accidental deaths. Guns kill so quickly and it's better not have them at all, or to have them locked safely away - especially from little boy's hands.

Boys will be boys and we do so love things that shoot.

Click here to visit the website of Gun Free South Africa - an organisation aiming to reduce the number of firearms in South Africa to nil.

6 thoughts on “Gun-free in South Africa

  1. Steve

    As always, I so enjoy your emails & comments. As a Capetownian living abroad, I cannot express this enough. I’m sure it’s always a challenging task to put into words what you felt and saw in the picture you took. I just couldn’t resist replying this time to what you wrote: Although I totally agree with you that guns are dangerous, I think one should think more about who should have the guns. I am certainly not happy with the idea of the government being the ones to arm themselves sufficiently. There are loads of reasons for this. The two main ones: Inadequacy of any government to protect everyone and their rights, and, political abuse of power. Such scenarios aren’t science fiction but a definite reality. I believe the general populace has a right to arm and protect themselves with any means possible – and I don’t believe the government bodies should have the greater fire power. I think the best solution would have been to teach people how to responsibly own and operate firearms as opposed to disempowering the people. Then again, one needs to think of what the TRUE agenda behind this action was. To protect the nations “little boys”?

  2. Paul

    Post author

    Hi Steve,

    While writing I considered bringing in that angle, but the text got too long – so thanks for bringing it up. It gives a more complete perspective on the situation.

    You’re absolutely correct, in terms of people having the right to be in a perspective to defend themselves. Reality is that while a minority are very responsible gun owners, many are extremely not so. I remember a situation when I was in school where a kid in the year below mine killed his entire family with his dad’s gun. I guess those are freak situations though – as is that situation with Columbine High in the US a few years back.

    Perhaps those who’d rather have a gun-free society are just idealistic.
    Perhaps those who think they could arm themselves enough are idealistic. :)

  3. Emm

    Oh, I have such a problem with guns! My friend committed suicide using her husband’s gun and you always hear about children getting hold of their father’s guns somehow. Obviously, taking necessary care and locking the gun away as required by law is the answer to that…

    I recently answered a simple survey that asked if I felt safe in my own home. In England, in my neighbourhood, I feel 100%. In South Africa, I felt 100% vulnerable behind electric fencing and gates. A huge portion of that fear (and it is fear and not necessarily an accurate reflection of reality) has to do with guns and the amount of guns circulating in society. The problem is that law-abiding citizens might hand their guns in but will the criminals?

  4. Huberaime

    Hello Paul
    I’ve been visiting your blog from time to time for a few months and I do like it. South Africa is so different from France, with its culture and reversed seasons.
    I absolutely agree with you against the free possession and use of fire arms. They are far to much dangerous to be handled by the common mob. And what about if a civil war was to break out?
    Thank you for your posts.

  5. Paul

    Post author

    Emm, that’s not good hey. I’m sorry to hear that. Yeah, I guess that taking care and locking it away will help, but in your friend’s case, I’m sure it wouldn’t have made a difference – I’m sure she would have know where the key was. :(

    No, I don’t think a lot of people intent on violence would have handed in their guns, but that’s only a part of the problem.

    On the topic of feeling vulnerable in SA – that’s weird. Perhaps it depends on where you live… or perhaps on your mindset. I’m cautious when around the house, but never feel vulnerable. Perhaps I just don’t notice that I lock doors and gates – perhaps it just feels natural to me. :-/

  6. Paul

    Post author

    Thanks for your message Huberaime. Yes, civil war could be a problem, but some would argue that if it did break out that there would be a reason for it. Some would argue that if the Government were to become as oppressive as our former NP government then it would be good for civilians to be in a position to fight back. (Not that I believe that’s a possibility – I’m just speaking hypothetically).

    Thanks for the link to your photo blog. Your photos make me miss France. :)

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