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It's just a gun, why all the hate?

25 March 2014, 22:30

Inspired by this article  written by a member of an online gun forum in South Africa which I frequent, I decided put some pen to paper, as it were, and  publish why I think guns are great and not the evil masterminds of the criminal underworld people are made to believe they are.

You see guns and gun owners in general get a bad rep in the media. They are portrayed as “gung ho Rambo types” who shoot first and ask questions later. With the exceptions of a few bad apples (which can really be found in most baskets), for most gun owners this could not be further from the truth.

There are many reasons why people choose to own guns. More often than not it is for the purpose of self-defence, however, there are many other reasons which include, but are not limited to, heaps and heaps and…er…heaps of fun.

To possess a firearm in South Arica though, one needs to be criminal record free. There are exceptions, of course, but by and large if you want to own a firearm in any shape or form in South Africa then you have to be a 100% law abiding citizen.

Whatever your motivation for owning a gun/s may be, one thing is for sure, and that is that you do not want to lose the licence to possess it. Losing your license to possess your firearm not only means you may no longer possess your self-defence pistol, or your grandfather’s old .22 LR rifle, but it in fact means that you may not possess ANY firearm. This would leave you without a means to compete in competitions, hone your marksmanship skills, plink for fun, collect, hunt, or defend yourself or your family in a life threatening situation… FOREVER!

I think I speak for all gun owners when I say this is a road that is preferred to be left untravelled.

The end result is that gun owners generally, for fear of losing their guns, tend be law abiding citizens who generally don’t commit crimes of any kind.

Now the gun averse among us (hello GFSA) would have you believe that ALL guns are bad, that legal gun owners are “paranoid nuts” and that if ALL guns are taken out of society that automatically crime would stop.

Let’s consider this for a moment:

Let’s say that in an alternate universe the all governments of the world rule that ALL civilian guns are banned, and every legal gun owner actually complies with the law and gets rid of all the guns they may be in possession of. Does this magically stop crime, or does it in fact increase crime because there are now so many more “easy targets” around? Think about it for a second.

What many of these “all guns are bad” people fail to realise is that a criminal by his very nature does not respect or even recognise the law. He doesn’t care for the rules and certainly isn’t deterred by the “no guns allowed” sign on the bank’s window. Even though guns may be illegal in his made up alternate universe, this still does not stop him from breaking the law and obtaining a gun illegally with which to rob and kill you.

But let’s say that in this alternate universe, no guns exist at all, or criminals respect the law and don’t obtain guns illegally, does it not stand to reason that the criminal will now use the “next best thing” with which to carry out his criminal act (a knife, a screwdriver, a saw, a baseball bat, a broken bottle, a rock, a syringe filled with HIV infected blood)?

Let’s take it a step further and imagine that ALL “dangerous weapons” are outlawed and the criminal element is now only able to use his bare hands. Do you not think that a criminal will now attack you in the dark, or while you slept, or attack with a group of his likeminded criminal friends?

Sadly, the reality of the real world we live in is one where the criminal element seeks out targets and the right environmental conditions that represent his/her highest chance of success. This means that they prey on the weak, unarmed and unaware and they stack the odds in their favour by outnumbering their target and using varied weapons to gain a level of power and leverage over their intended victims.

The problem here is not the gun. The problem here is the criminal. The gun is just a tool.

Criminals are cowards and rely on the power of surprise, superior numbers, superior size and ability, and weapons of ALL KINDS to forcefully take the belongings, freedom, dignity, and life from those weaker than them.

The gun is indeed a very powerful and devastating tool which the professional criminal uses to hold power over you and accomplish his dirty deeds. But it is also true that a gun in the hands of the victim is a great equalising force. It allows a little old lady to successfully defend herself against a rapist three times her size, it allows a young father to defend his wife and kids against multiple attackers, and it also allows the paraplegic to make a citizen’s arrest. It’s able to level the unfair playing field created by your attacker who thinks that attacking YOU guarantees him the highest chance of success. It truly is the great equaliser.

It therefore escapes me why legal firearm owners are always the target of the anti-gun organisations of the world. Illegal firearms in the hands of criminals are the problem, not the legal guns that are responsible for saving thousands of lives daily around the world.

Yet, organisations like Gun Free South Africa would have you believe that ALL guns are bad. If average Joe Soap cannot see the utter stupidity in this logic then I suppose that’s his choice. But Joe should be cautioned that he drinks the GFSA Kool-Aid at his own peril.

It may be noble to think that if he complies with Mr. Bad Guy’s demands and does not resist that he will be spared harm or death, but if our local or international media is anything to go by then there are many cases where this simply isn’t true. People get brutally attacked, raped, and killed even after complying with all the demands of their assailants.

I also know of an ongoing criminal case where a young lady was robbed, tied up, and raped in her own home when letting strangers in who came under the guise of purchasing the goods she advertised through a popular online private sale website. Her obvious negligence aside, things could possibly have turned out differently had she owned a gun?

Sometimes we can’t help getting into a bad situation, but it is far better to be able to take the fight to your attacker and risk possible injury or death than to woefully accept definite injury or death.

This is one of the reasons that I and many other normal everyday people from all walks of life carry guns. We don’t own guns because of their destructive capabilities or to go out with the “confidence” to now pick a fight, far from it. We own guns because of their ability to regain control of a bad situation, often without even having to even fire a single round. We own guns out of necessity due to the violent world we live in. We own guns because bad things often happen to good people.

Some would label gun owners as paranoid. For some this is probably true, but paranoid or not, I’d much rather have a gun and not need it, then need it and not have it. Funny thing is that carrying a gun for self-defence is a lot like driving with your seatbelt on. Sure you do not “need” to be wearing it every time you drive, but should you unfortunately be involved in a motor vehicle accident, then you’ll be glad you were. The belt in itself, however, is a non-intrusive inanimate object that doesn’t affect your driving at all. I’d like to know how many of the anti-gun fraternity choose to not wear their seatbelts.

Gun owners are just a normal bunch of people and ownership is not exclusive to a particular group, race, colour, or creed. In my case I didn’t grow up with guns. I considered carrying a gun for self-defence fairly recently and didn’t suddenly become any less responsible than I was before applying for a licence to possess a firearm.

My sidearm hasn’t given me an inflated sense of power or esteem and neither has it made me impolite or aggressive toward people. It certainly hasn’t turned me into John Rambo.

Last night I had a stranger come over who was interested in a lounge suite I was selling. I of course had my gun with me. Guess what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing happened. He liked the goods, paid me, loaded his vehicle and left. I didn't wave it around like some crazed madman. I didn't strut around or make a point of strategically bending down and moving in such a way so that he could see it either. He didn’t even know I owned a gun. 

It’s like that for us most days. We’re just regular people, with regular jobs and loving families who we want nothing but the best for. The difference between us is that we choose to be responsible and accountable for our own safety and don’t make our safety the problem of others.

Despite what GFSA and others with the same agenda want you to believe, gun owners generally aren’t the trigger happy lunatics portrayed in the media. I find that gun owners are often times the most polite, friendly and tolerant people you will find. They are generally slow to anger and if they do, they don’t automatically default to using their gun to solve their problems.

They are normal people a lot like you who quite often forget that they carry a gun in the sense that it’s just an inanimate object that they could call upon IF they needed to. The rest of the time it simply doesn’t bother them as much as it bothers a non-gun owner. Again, there are certainly a few exceptions, but they tend to rule themselves out at their first transgression of the law.

Guns can be good. They can also be bad. The decision however for a gun to be good or bad doesn’t lie with the gun, but rather with the person wielding the gun. A gun in the hands of a good person can be used to far greater effect that one in the wrong hands ever could.

I like owning a gun. I intend to own many more. It may not always be convenient or comfortable, but it sure is comforting. I don’t live my life with my head in the sand believing bad things only happen to other people. I also don’t live my life believing that the Police are my personal 24 hour protection service. I live my life realistically knowing that bad things could possibly happen to me and that I should do my best to be prepared for in case that something bad should ever happen.

That is not to say that a gun should be the solution to all one's problems, it's not. It's almost always better to run away from danger and for the most part I avoid bad situations, but if ever I find myself in a situation where my life is being threatened and lethal force is my last and only option, then I would feel so much better knowing that I have a gun with me instead of an “I support a gun free society” look on my face.

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