South Africans Divided Over Proposed Gun Control Law

AP Photo/Michael Hill

South Africa was, at one time, one of the more stable African nations. That stabilization went away with Apartheid. While Apartheid was awful, the stabilization wasn’t, and now it’s a particularly violent nation with crime skyrocketing.

For law-abiding South Africans, having a gun may be the only way for them to feel safe. Unfortunately, some in the South African government want to make it far harder for those people to have any means of self-defense.

That’s causing division in the nation.

The Police Ministry has already received more than 85,000 submissions on the proposed amendments to the firearms bill.

The Firearms Control Amendment Bill 2021 replaces the previous bill that was submitted to Cabinet in February 2015.

Two weeks ago, the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service published a call for public comment on the bill.

The proposed amendments have reopened the perennial debate on firearm ownership and sparked outrage among gun owners.

The Firearms Control Amendment Bill has gun owners, opposition political parties, and civic organisations up in arms.

Amongst other things, it seeks to prohibit the issuing of licences for firearms bought for self-defence.

Some have described it as ‘madness’, ‘idiotic’ and ‘reckless’.

Police Minister Bheki Cele disagrees, saying that the amendments aren’t an attempt to disarm citizens, but rather an attempt to build a safer South Africa.

Unlike the US constitution, our founding document does not enshrine the right to own or bear arms.

Of course, that doesn’t mean South Africans don’t still have the right to keep and bear arms. As noted, the US Constitution enshrines the right, it doesn’t create or grant it.

It’s just too bad so few people throughout the world understand that.

Anyway, I get the police minister’s desire for a safer South Africa. That’s something everyone in the nation should want. The problem is, preventing people from buying a gun because they want it for self-defense isn’t the way to achieve that. Unless, of course, you want South Africa to be safer from the violent criminals that roam the nation’s streets.

Self-defense isn’t a license to commit criminal acts, after all, and I’m quite sure the number of people lawfully purchasing guns in South African and then breaking the law with those guns is ridiculously low. Africa is a continent with a lot of guns. It’s not difficult to imagine it’s pretty easy to get a gun illegally with that many just across a couple of borders, so why punish the law-abiding citizens who just want to protect themselves?

Frankly, the most disheartening thing about the fact that South Africans are divided over this is that there are some who seem to think having a gun for self-defense is somehow wrong. I mean, what kind of window-licker thinks that having a firearm for self-defense is somehow wrong and a bad idea.

Oh, wait. That would be the same kind who try to fight against gun rights here in the United States. My mistake.

My hope is that South Africa backs down from this kind of idiocy. Law-abiding South Africans have a right to protect themselves from the criminals that plague their nation. They deserve better from their government than to see themselves placed at the mercy of the worst of their society by government mandate.

Everyone deserves better than that.