Gun Rights Battle Continues In South Africa

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We gun rights advocates here in the United States tend to focus predominantly on American gun laws. That’s understandable. I mean, gun laws here impact us. Gun laws elsewhere don’t. That’s for gun rights advocates there to deal with, and if there aren’t enough to stop a bad law from passing, well, that’s a shame, but we don’t live there, so we don’t have to deal with it.

However, bad gun control ideas don’t just sit in those countries. They get exported to our shores. Look at the number of people who advocate for Australian- or British-style gun control here in the US.

In South Africa, which has a serious problem with violence, there’s a fight brewing that looks awfully familiar to me.

Armed South Africans who fought back against looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last month have brought government’s controversial plans to amend the country’s firearm laws back into the spotlight.

Government and anti-gun activists have claimed that removing self-defence as a valid reason to own a firearm from the Firearms Control Act will help keep guns off the streets stolen from legal owners.

This proposal forms part of a leaked 2018 draft amendment bill, slammed by gun rights advocates, opposition political parties, civil society organisations, and experts in the security industry.

Gun Owners of South Africa chairman Paul Oxley described the changes as “sheer madness” and “disturbing” and said the recent looting sprees destroyed any possible justification for the bill.

“At the same time as the police minister announces a R3-billion cut in the SAPS budget, for protecting you and I, and a R1.7-billion increase in the VIP Protection Services budget, for protecting our political masters, he would remove the only practical means of self-defence from the beleaguered South African citizenry,” Oxley said.

“The Constitution recognises our right to life, which is hollow and meaningless without access to the most effective means to protect that life, which is privately held firearms.”

Oxley said the unrest created the best large-scale experiment that proved firearms were key to protecting lives and livelihoods.

He ain’t wrong, folks.

Look, South Africa does have a violence problem. However, that can be said about most of Africa, really. So much so, in fact, that arguing that keeping law-abiding citizens from having guns will somehow stop criminals from being armed is spurious at best.

Oh, criminals might not be able to steal them from the law-abiding, but it’s Africa. There are so many guns there in nefarious hands that it’s not hard to imagine South African criminals getting them from over the border easily enough.

Then what you get is a disarmed population with armed criminals. If you can’t see what a recipe for disaster that is, you need to get your head recalibrated.

In fact, South Africa has many of the challenges we have here in the United States. More importantly, though, there are those who actually agree with the anti-gun rights position espoused above, that if we make it harder for law-abiding citizens to get guns, then criminals can’t steal those guns, thus disarming criminals all while having a border where numerous other guns can waltz across without a care in the world.

And when it fails, it won’t be gun control’s fault. It never is.

Sep 22, 2021 6:30 PM ET