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Robyn De Klerk
 
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Oscar: Innocent Until Proven Guilty. Guns: Guilty as Charged!

12 March 2014, 15:08
If the social media comments are anything to go by, most people who are following the Pistorius trial have already made up their minds one way or the other. Many are ready to hang the man (forgetting that in SA we do not, thankfully in my opinion, have the death penalty).  Others believe his version of events and long to see their hero restored to his former glory. However, my position is that all we know with any clarity is that Oscar shot Reeva on that fateful night.  His motive for the shooting is no clearer to me than when this all started, and so I choose to reserve judgment until the trial is completed and the weight of evidence can lead me to one conclusion or another.  I am also mindful that currently the prosecution is presenting their case, and we have yet to hear the case for the defense.  The defense certainly has some very tough questions to answer, but I for one really want to hear those answers, in the interests of justice and to satisfy my own curiosity. Furthermore, given that only two people were present that night, we must accept that we may never know what took place behind closed doors and why.

One thing I am sure of though: Whatever the motive, if there were no guns in Oscar's house on that terrible night, Reeva would still be alive today.  Whether he shot her in a fit of rage, or panic thinking she was an intruder, if a gun were not readily available, Oscar would have had to resort to other problem solving options and the outcome would have been different.  If there was a lovers' quarrel he could still have done violence to her, but her chances of survival would have been much better.  Also, one hopes that he may have had time to come to his senses and realize that she didn't deserve to die and that killing her would destroy his career and his life.  If, on the other hand, he had been in fear of an intruder, he would have had to call security, hide, or take other defensive measures, and would quickly have learned that it was nothing more than a case of mistaken identity.  Everyone would have been greatly relieved, have gone back to bed and the rest of us wouldn't have heard anything about this non-event.

But that's not how it turned out.  There was a gun. It was used to deadly effect and one precious young life was lost while another is irrevocably destroyed.  Yesterday we heard a friend tell of Oscar's love for guns.  I can't help but wonder how he feels about them now?  In a quiet moment of rational reflection he must realize that they have taken everything from him!

I can already hear the counter-argument: "Guns don't kill people, people do."  It isn't the gun's fault, it is the shooter that is to blame! Sure, but consider how fallible humans are - we can give in to fits of rage, we can misread a situation, panic or just joke around and forget for a moment the potentially lethal consequences. If people kill, then don't give people guns, for crying out loud!  And what about the rights of the rest of us? I certainly don't want to live in a society where criminals have guns, but nor do I want to live in one where a testosterone-driven young show-off can pass around a loaded gun in a crowded restaurant and potentially kill a child sitting at the next table!

So if there was an intruder in my home, wouldn't I rather have a gun to protect myself and my family?  Quite frankly no.  Because then there would be all those other days when there is no intruder in my house but that hideous, godawful gun still is, it's mere presence greatly decreasing my personal safety for reasons that should already be obvious to us all.

Much has been made of the fear that we all live in in South Africa, so much so that I have begun to wonder whether I live in a completely different country or am certifiably insane.  I am a white South African woman. I do not own a gun and nor does anyone in my family. I live in an open residential area, not a gated community.  In fact, I recently purchased a home and informed the estate agent that I would not consider a property in a security complex or gated community.  My reason is that I do not like the restrictions their body corporates place on pet ownership and all the other rules and regulations that I can frankly do without.  And yet I do not live my life in fear.  I go to bed at night with no expectation of being raped or murdered in my sleep.  I move about freely doing my business as a member of a free society.  I take what I consider to be reasonable security precautions - there are burglar bars on my windows, I have an alarm system and I lock the doors at night or when I am home alone.  That's good enough for me.

Sure, I acknowledge that one day I could face an intruder and have no gun to protect myself. But I could also get hit by a bus or die of cancer.  I refuse to live my life from day to day as if the worst case scenario was always around the corner.  Particularly when it comes to guns.  Owning a gun or being around gun owners doesn't make you any safer.  If anything it increases the risk of gun death.  The more guns there are in the system the less safe we all are.  So I will take my chances and meet my death on the day that it comes, but live free and happy until then!

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