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written by Peter Moss
Moderator - South African Firearm Forum

Submitted by Martin L Hedington
Feedback and crits are welcome.

August 28, 2001

SOUTH AFRICA -- The drafting of more stringent firearm legislation has stimulated considerable debate surrounding the notion of 'a crime free South Africa'. Within the context of crime-ridden South Africa, the question of whether stricter gun laws will be effective in reducing the crime rate is not in debate. The empirical evidence of the world during the last 100 years offers conclusive proof that all attempts to control crime or the supply of guns to criminals with legislation will fail to deliver the false promise of gun control.

The Cabinet's recent approval of the Firearms Control Act has been described as one of its most flawed legislative processes to date. The policy, drafted in terms of a mandate from Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete to reduce the legal possession of small arms and ammunition, is the result of government's stated policy and many times confirmed intention of disarming all citizens of South Africa.

This legislation restricts the right of ownership, the numbers and type and gives wide ranging draconian powers to the police of presumption of guilt, search and seizure with the ability to take DNA samples, all without a warrant. This attempt at greater control over gun ownership in South Africa is indicative of the world-wide trend toward gun control madness. This trend is supported by groups such as Gun Free South Africa and the Azanian People's Organisation, whose ultimate aim is a criminal utopia of disarmed victims -- while being opposed by the majority of citizens and firearms organisations such as the National Firearms Forum, South African Gun Owners Association and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The government, by assenting to the legislation, has clearly put in place its first step to its stated goal of total civilian disarmament. Despite government's many attempts to allay the fears of citizens by claiming that this is not the intention, it has also admitted that the legislation will have no impact on criminals because it is not possible to make laws for criminals.

The question of transparency has been raised in connection with the new legislation after accusations that the policy drafting process was biased and therefore "deeply flawed". The NNP and DP (now DA) also felt that 

"a certain section, represented by groups such as 'Gun-Free South Africa' have been given too prominent a role in the drafting of the legislation, while other groups with differing viewpoints were excluded". 

It is clear that the drafting and legislative process filled by a long list of many controversies has not been transparent and the claims of "deeply flawed" are justified.

The motivating factor behind the new legislation is, clearly, the desire of government to follow its policy and intention of civilian disarmament and to distract attention from its failure to control rampant and out-of-control crime.

This connection is proven by the fact that the police are deliberately and knowingly starved of all resources needed to fight crime and the judicial process is corrupt, inefficient and overloaded. The intended and stated result of the legislation is a significant reduction in the level of legal firearm ownership. It is this 'logic' that is supported by Gun Free South Africa, a non-government lobby organisation whose ultimate aim is a gun-free society, one in which there are no guns in private hands. 

All respected criminologists and scholars of the world, however, have much to say on the lack of a causal connection between firearms and crime. Martin Hood of the Gun Owners Association of South Africa said that there was no evidence to back the claim that guns were in fact to blame [for crime]; people who want to kill others would still find some way of killing them.

Summarising this standpoint, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, leader of the NNP, stated that 

"the draft bill circulating at the moment confuses responsible, legal gun ownership with criminal, illegal gun ownership."

Those against the notion of a gun-free South Africa cite the impossible dream of disarming criminals and international examples in order to disprove the ideology that a gun-free society results in a crime-free society. For instance, in America, two years after strict gun laws were introduced in New Jersey in 1966 the robbery rate had almost doubled and the murder rate had increased by 46%. Also, since stringent gun laws were enacted in Washington, D.C. (1976), the murder rate in the city has increased by 134% while the national murder rate has dropped by 2%.

What is of most serious concern to many law abiding South Africans is the perception that the new gun laws deny them of their democratic right to protect themselves. The majority of legal firearms are purchased for reasons of self-defense and protection. A gun helps many South Africans ensure their own safety and security giving the ability to defend life and secure property when faced with a crime situation. In a country as violent as ours, the ability to protect oneself and one's family is paramount. 

However, those in favour of a gun-free society respond to the issue of self-defense by erroneously pointing out that gun owners are seldom able to defend themselves. Since no study has been conducted in South Africa the basis of this contention is simply a figment of imagination and desire to promote flawed idealism which disregards many international studies. Professor John Lott's acclaimed study in America presented in his book 'More guns, less crime' shows unrefuted evidence of the deterrent effect on crime produced by armed citizens.

Gun free South Africa, in its attempts to discredit the good record of firearm owners, continues to disparage licenced firearms owners -- despite governments own admission that licenced firearms owners are not a significant contributing factor to violent crime. Negligence by licenced gun owners is currently a crime yet the number of prosecutions is insignificant. In an endeavour to legitimise its false claims of negligence, Gun free South Africa commissioned and paid via the Open Society Foundation, Antony Altbeker (Wits University) to conduct a study specifically to prove that firearms owners were negligent. Altbeker -- vehemently opposed to firearms ownership, starting from the premise that negligence was present and seeking ways to justify the premise -- conducted his research within 1000 police dockets of cases of firearms "loss". Atlbeker was unable to provide the proof that firearms owners were anything but responsible.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, 30,000 handguns are stolen each year - 8,500 of those admitted stolen from the police and defense force. However, state losses of firearms are hugely under reported and many are simply written off as accounting losses. Under 1% of licenced firearms are stolen, which when compared with stolen motor vehicles (10%) once again shows the unrefuted good record of licenced firearms owners. It is difficult to believe that both gun free South Africa and the government in some demented thinking wish to hold firearms owners responsible for the theft of property. Both go so far as to illogically attempt to place the blame for further criminal acts committed with stolen guns on the owners. One can imagine the laughter which would be caused by owners of stolen motor vehicles being blamed for bank robbery and hi-jacking. Yet mention guns and the conditioning and constant barrage of propaganda from gun free South Africa and government, just like Pavlov's dogs, people take such ludicrous statements seriously.

A survey commissioned by gun-free South Africa compared the incidence of gun related crime in South Africa to that of neighbouring Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. Katharine Mckenzie -- also vehemently opposed to gun ownership -- ignored the majority of her own data to prove the preconceived premise on which the research was based and satisfy gun free South Africa. Dr. Richard Wesson, an independent researcher, examined McKenzies data and illogical comparison with Botswana simply because it was the only example of the 10 countries studied from which McKenzie could draw the conclusion desired. Dr. Richard Wesson, using recognised methods, has shown the reverse of McKenzie's conclusion: the incidence of levels of firearm ownership has a deterrent effect on crime rates, once again confirming the results of Prof. John Lott. McKenzie, when questioned by the Portfolio Committee on the validity of the study conclusions, informed the committee that government should conduct its own study.

Coupled with the lack of evidence of user negligence is the claim that many licensed gun holders are not fit to own such a weapon. The draft bill attempted to evaluate a license applicant's mental and emotional stability. The draft policy addressed this by suggesting that license applicants undergo psychometric testing to assess their mental stability -- undeterred by the lack of any known test to make such evaluation and the insignificantly small number of people who would be denied a licence by such a test.

There is absolutely no possibility ever of a gun free society. This raises doubts about the validity and ability of the police to enforce strict gun laws which serve no other purpose than to empower crime and criminals. Would stricter gun laws make it any more difficult for criminals to obtain guns? Criminals will still be able to smuggle guns into the country and get them on the black market or, as is already the case, manufacture their own in backyard factories. How then can criminals, rather than the law-abiding public, be denied access to firearms? The reality is that it is not possible to deny criminals guns by any legislation or harassment of law-abiding citizens. There is not one single implementation of gun control legislation anywhere in the world that has either reduced crime or the supply of guns to criminals. Such well intentioned attempts have a 100% failure rate, but as noted by Prof. John Lott and many other researchers who have confirmed his results, the likelihood of increasing crime and criminal guns is very great. Leading to unintentional and unnecessary but predictable increases of death, rape, murder, injury and suffering from the ravages of crime. Criminals by choice prefer unarmed and defenceless victims.

The general lack of faith in the police and the criminal justice system in this country leads to concerns over why the new legislation has been introduced. Although the Act includes the provision of greater powers to the police, the question remains as to whether the police - given their limited resources - will actually be able to exert those powers. Or as in the case of the previous Act as found by the Dept Safety and Security study, those powers will be grossly abused.

All arguments lead to an acknowledgement that stricter gun laws are irrelevant to the combat of crime and are at best a planned diversion by government to draw attention away from a dismal failure to combat crime. Other measures need to be taken to reduce the high level of violent crime in South Africa. Anti-crime policy and legislation needs to be accompanied by a marked improvement in the police and criminal justice system. A more holistic approach that includes the root cause of crime rather than the simplistic excuse of guns, needs to be adopted in order to change the whole culture of crime and violence in South Africa.

Respectfully Giving Aid and Ammo to a South African Liberty Advocate

from Angel Shamaya

Dear Peter,

Your article on the state of the anti-rights war being waged against you and your countrymen is a welcome reminder to our people here in America.  Feel free to publish on our website any time you please, friend. I not only sympathize with you, I stand in full support of your taking whatever steps necessary to make certain that you do not disarm any further. Even with our much less restrictive gun laws here in America, I tell you man to man that if anyone ever attempts to disarm me, he will have to kill me to do it, and I have no intention of allowing that to happen. Make that mean whatever serves you maximally.

You did say something that set off sirens in my mind as to how you are perceiving and promoting the restoration of your rights.  Please permit me to elaborate, Peter.  You said:

"What is of most serious concern to many law abiding South Africans is the perception that the new gun laws deny them of their democratic right to protect themselves." [emphasis mine]

Peter, your right to protect yourself is not a "democratic right." Rights do not come from democracies, no matter what the socialist bottom-feeders say. Self-defense is a natural right of a human being and any of the lower animals capable of mobility. In fact, the Plant Kingdom has an astounding number of species that resort to a variety of means for self-defense -- including violent self-defense that produces death in the attacker. In other words, the many anti-self-defense people you described above are dumber than plants. And I encourage you to put that across, in plain English, like this:

"The people over at 'Gun Free South Africa' are dumber than plants, and here's exactly why..."

If you're a religious man, Peter, I'd encourage you to cite the true source of your rights as being divine in nature -- from a source far superior to any manmade collaborative effort known as government. I'd encourage you to pull out the bible when you're talking to Christians, and to resort to whatever other spiritual texts will reach the people in high places who may still have a brain and the ability to apply it.

And even if you or your audience do not relate to God, the argument from a place of "natural, inherent rights" is far superior than falsely stating that your putrid, fascist government has granted you your rights. I therefore encourage you, most heartily, to refrain from reporting with such inaccuracy at any point in the future.

If you would like a number of us to give a few of your more virulent anti-gun wretches a piece of our American minds, feel free to provide names, email addresses and a few quotes we can use to rip them off a liberty letter or two. Have Martin post your "Call to American Friends for Support" right here:

In conclusion, there are many among us here in America who say it's too late to restore our rights within the current system, but too early to shoot the bastards. I doubt there are as many people saying that in your country. Revisit the American Constitution soon, and if you folks decide to rewrite it and sign it and mean it, be sure to put more effective wording into your Second Amendment. We've discovered here in the states that a few million of our people can't read plain English. We're in a bit of a holding pattern right now over here -- waiting in amusement to find out how many of them really want to die to get our guns. If our Dumber Than Plants people push America into a civil conflict over gun rights, I predict the answer will be: ALL OF THEM.

Other Articles on Gun Control in the African Continent


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