Supporting a gun-free South Africa

2009-12-04 00:00

THE bleeding-heart liberals of Gun-free South Africa (GFSA) are at it again, trying to spoil Christmas. Their TV ads are appearing regularly, encouraging people not to buy weapons as Christmas gifts.

I wonder who supports them?

I do, for one, as Jason and I were both “shot” while walking through the mall recently. Two young boys of about five and six were brandishing new toy guns. As we passed, they both aimed and fired, one at each of us.

Their mother apologised as we passed, probably inspired by my horrified face and the fact that I rose several centimetres off the floor with fright.

“They’re just playing,” she said as she sailed on, smiling distractedly. Jason got more of a scare from my reaction than from the experience.

Our home has always been a gun-free zone, which family and friends have respected. When Jason came home with a cap gun as a party favour, it mysteriously found its way into the rubbish bin as soon as the caps were finished. We have allowed him the odd water pistol and bow and arrow, but he and Anna know that guns are a non- negotiable no-no.

When he’s old enough to understand, Jason won’t find our decision surprising, since his father was one of the earliest conscientious objectors and refused to carry a weapon. I lived through the bush war in Zimbabwe and I still have some of the letters my father wrote from the operational area during his military “call-ups”. Our bleeding- heart liberal credentials are beyond question, and we’re not embarrassed by that either.

But what of those gun-toting boys at the mall?

We have, I am sure, all heard and read about research into the effects of TV violence on children. We know we live in a violent society and we’ve also seen the statistics that make South Africa one of the murder capitals of the world. But what does all that information actually mean?

It means that small boys are allowed to point toy guns and “fire” at strangers as they walk through the mall. This behaviour, which I see as offensive and unacceptably aggressive, is actively condoned by their parental authority.

It also means that a 14-year- old Pietermaritzburg boy is recovering at home from being shot in the stomach by a schoolmate. The perpetrator was probably also “just playing” when he pointed the magazine-less gun at his friend and fired.

I wonder if he played with toy guns when he was young? And I also wonder if one of those boys at the mall will grow up to shoot one his friends in the stomach with a real gun one day?

Not if GFSA can help it.

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