A Crime Free South Africa

2013-04-10 10:00

The calls for more stringent firearm legislation has stimulated considerable debate surrounding the notion of a crime free South Africa is a gun 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 past 200 years offers convincing proof that all attempts to control citizens safety, crime or the supply of guns to criminals with legislation will fail to deliver the false promise of gun control.

Cabinet's approval of the Firearms Control Act was 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 governments stated policy and many times confirmed intention of disarming all citizens of South Africa following the dictates of communisms desire to have helpless citizens totally dependent on government.

The government, by assenting to the legislation, has clearly put in place a vital step to its stated goal of total civilian disarmament. Despite governments many attempts to allay the fears of citizens by claiming that this is not the intention. It has also correctly admitted that such legislation will have no impact on criminals because it is not possible to make laws for criminals. This while the ANC is still in illegal possession of all its more than 60 tons estimated of war arms, ammunition and explosives caches which the ANC refuses to hand over for undisclosed reasons.

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

This connection is proven by the fact that the police were 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 not illegal but legal firearm ownership. There can be absolutely no hope of such action removing criminal and illegal firearms when criminals smuggle in banned drugs by the ton.

ANC disarmament ideology is supported by gun free South Africa, a non-government lobby organisation whose ultimate aim, a utopian ideological vision that has no proof of ever materialising, is a gun-free society, one in which there are no guns in private hands. All guns will be held by government and criminals only.

Crime will not be reduced. Respected criminologists and scholars of the world have much to say on the lack of a causal connection between firearms and crime. All agree there is no evidence to back the claim that guns are in fact to blame for crime.

Summarising this standpoint, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, then leader of the NNP, stated in Parliament "the draft bill circulating at the moment confuses responsible, legal gun ownership with criminal, illegal gun ownership". A deliberate but false ploy to confuse citizens into acceptance of gun control legislation.

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, two years after strict gun laws were introduced in New Jersey the robbery rate had almost doubled and the murder rate had increased by 46%. Also, since stringent gun laws were enacted in Washington, 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 that the new gun laws deny them their democratic right to protect themselves. The majority of firearms are purchased for reasons of self-defence 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 the most violent criminals in the world. In a country as violent as ours, the ability to protect oneself and one's family is paramount considering the police have absolutely no duty to protect citizens.

Gun free South Africa in its attempts to prove its policy and to discredit the good record of firearm owners continues to disparage firearms owners, despite governments own admission that firearms owners are not a significant contributing factor to violent crime. Negligence by gun owners is currently a crime yet the number of prosecutions is insignificant.

Another example of the false and flawed policy of gun control, coupled with the lack of evidence of user negligence is the claim that many gun holders are not fit to own such a weapon. 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. It is not possible to predict what anyone will do in the future. Such tests and legislation are based on guilt prior to the punishable act which is unacceptable in a normal society.

There is absolutely no possibility ever of a gun free society only a society where government holds the monopoly of power. This raises doubts about the willingness, and ability of the police to protect citizens or to enforce strict gun laws that serve no other purpose than to control citizens and 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 this legislation has been introduced. The current abuse of police powers and lack of control and accountability the question remains as to whether the police will actually be able to exert those powers correctly in a democratic society. 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.

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