Pellet guns ‘are not toys’

2007-11-23 00:00

The new Firearms Act prescribes that pellet guns may be purchased as they pose no danger, if handled in a responsible and safe manner. However, if they are used dangerously and pose a danger to the general public, animals and other protected species, the user may be prosecuted.

Two recent incidents have once again triggered debate as to whether a pellet gun is a toy or a weapon.

Last Saturday, a Humansdorp teenager was admitted to hospital after a 12-year-old boy shot her with a pellet gun.

She was shot in the vagina and had to undergo an operation so that doctors could remove the pellet.

A case of attempted murder is being investigated and the docket has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision. The boy could be charged with attempted murder.

A week earlier, a Vanderbijlpark man was shot in the jaw by a pellet gun while waiting for his friends outside a shop.

It is believed that two youths shot the man from a nearby flat and fled when police arrived.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge told Weekend Witness that parents need to accept that they or their children will be held accountable if a life is lost or if someone is injured as a result of a pellet gun.

“The department is further of the view that children may be encouraged to play with other safer toys as opposed to pellet guns as this might provoke an element of violence in the future society,” he added.

Lihle Cwinya-ai of Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) said it is a pity that many South Africans are attracted to “dangerous things”.

“Pellet guns are generally a very dangerous apparatus and we need to send out the message that they are not toys. Adverts displaying pellet guns have already been published ahead of Christmas and I am urging parents not to buy such dangerous gifts. Parents should buy safer education toys instead of something that encourages violence,” she said.

Cwinya-ai said that GFSA has embarked on several projects to highlight the roles that toy guns play in children’s lives.

“In August we launched a project advising parents to stay away from buying toy guns and are hoping the message is being heard, but once again I must say that a pellet gun should not be regarded as a toy because it is dangerous, especially when it can be used to deliberately injure someone,” Cwinya-ai added.

nivashni@witness.co.za

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