To gun or not to gun?

There is a thin blue line…


The gun conversation has been a controversial conversation, neé argument, for many years and most probably will be for many years to come. The division between pro-gun ownership and anti-gun ownership has torn societies apart, not just in our town, but worldwide. The misconceptions and the lack of education around this matter have parties jumping to conclusions and making all kinds of assumptions. Instead of listening to each other’s opinions and talking about it to find solutions, people and parties attack each other instead of tackling the issues at hand. To say that the country would be safer with gun control is like saying to some people you cannot breathe. On the one hand the anti-gun parties are trying to rid society of guns because of how dangerous guns are and the fact that maybe they have had bad experiences with guns. These parties are in the right to think so, but forget that there is a difference between legal and illegal gun ownership and responsible and irresponsible gun owners. There is a thin blue line…
In order to receive a gun licence in South Africa, one has to complete 11 steps (Found on SAPS website: ):

  1. You must successfully pass the prescribed test to prove your knowledge of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 as well as the prescribed training and practical test regarding the safe and efficient handling of a firearm at an accredited training provider.
  2. On receipt of the training certificate from an accredited training provider or the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (Sasseta), you must apply to the SAPS for a competency certificate.
  3. Submit the application together with the following supporting documentation to the designated firearms officer (DFO) situated in the area where you ordinarily reside:
  • Your official identity document
  • Your original training certificate issued by an accredited training provider (Sasseta)
  • Two unobscured passport-size colour photographs (with a neutral background) that are not older that three months.
  • Any other supporting documents.
    After you have obtained a competency certificate, you must complete the relevant sections of the SAPS 271 form (Application for a licence to possess a firearm).
  1. Submit the completed SAPS 271 form to the DFO in the area where you ordinarily reside.
  2. Take the following documents with you to the DFO:
  • Your original, official identity document
  • Your original competency certificate
  • Letter of appointment as executor, if the firearm was inherited
  • Two unobscured passport-size colour photographs, not older that three months.
  1. You must fully motivate your application and submit documents in support of your application.
  2. The DFO will –
  • Take a full set of your fingerprints on the SAPS 91(a) form (only for a competency certificate)
  • Issue you with a remittance advice SAPS 523(a) and direct you to the financial office at the police station to pay the prescribed fee.  The payment must be made by means of cash or a bank-guaranteed cheque.  You will be issued with a receipt (Z263) as proof of the payment, which you must submit to the DFO to ensure that the processing of the application will continue.
  1. You will receive a signed acknowledgement of receipt (SAPS 523) as proof that you have submitted an application for a licence to possess a firearm.
  2. After the successful consideration of your application, the DFO will ask you to within 14 days, obtain and install a firearm safe that meets the standards set by the South African Bureau of Standards.
  3. The DFO will carry out an inspection of your premises to ascertain that you have met the requirements for a safe.
    Reading the requirements also brings perspective to the many steps and prerequisites to owning a firearm.
    South Africa as a society teaches its children that guns are bad and unsafe, but in the same breath take their sons hunting (a big part of South African culture). This is a double standard. Little boys grow up with their fathers cleaning guns and fathers teaching them how to ensure that the gun is safe. What happened to teaching and sharing that same knowledge with little girls? That is where irresponsible gun ownership comes in. These children grow up in the same house, yet only one gets taught because little girls are made of glass and little boys of steel.
    Responsible gun ownership would be to pass on the knowledge that one has, regardless if it is the mother or father, to everyone in the house.

Teaching children and spouses the huge responsibility a firearm carries with it, is rudimental for them to make an educated decision whether or not to be anti- or pro-gun ownership. Saying that, the law also requires that all guns are locked up in SABS approved safes, firmly mounted to a wall. It is also the responsibility of the gun owner to ensure that she/he is the only one with access to the safe. Again responsibility. In an American article: Raging Against Self Defence: A psychiatrist Examines The Anti-Gun Mentality by Sarah Thompson, MD, the author talks about Hoplophobia to describe anti-gun beliefs. (“Hoplophobia is a political neologism coined by retired military officer, Colonel Jeff Cooper, as a pejorative to describe an “irrational aversion to weapons.” It is also used to describe the “fear of firearms” or the “fear of armed citizens.”) The article explains the defence mechanisms people use that are anti-gun. Furthermore, the article makes one aware that the media, politics and other sources play a huge role in the mental state of any human being, which could lead to the misconception of owning a firearm. It also says that people who legally carry firearms are less prone to criminal activity and also less violent. The article later on states that it is not very easy to victimise a person who is trained to use a firearm and knows how to use it.
This brings the conversation back to educating children and women. “In an attempted high jacking, if a male and female are in the car, the male would be an immediate threat. The high jackers would not suspect the female to carry a firearm, nor would they think she would know how to use it.” Said Paul Oxley, Chairman, Gun Owners of South Africa (GOSA). GOSA recently hosted the I Am Every Woman campaign for women of any age, no matter the background. This campaign “aims to empower women emotionally, mentally and physically by showing them an alternative to victimhood by providing them with a way to legally defend themselves, their children and their families against the rampant crime in South Africa.” This brings the anti- and pro-gun conversation back to education. A study at one of Cape Town’s busiest “gunshot” trauma hospitals has shown that driving a car is more dangerous than owning a gun. The highest incidents that enter this trauma unit are firstly, patients assaulted by sharp objects (1932 (20.9%)), secondly traffic collisions (1736 (18.8%)) and thirdly falling (1699 (18.4%)). Firearms are only 442 (4.8%) and no. 6 on the list of 10 trauma types. Does this not make one think that one is misinformed about firearms? Being anti- or pro-gun is a choice that one has to make by oneself. It is like deciding whether you like blue or green… Only YOU can make that decision. Keep in mind that being more educated on this subject will assist in making an informed decision. – Ané Prinsloo
(Gun Free South Africa did not respond at time of publishing)


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