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Law-abiding licenced gun owners are not responsible for violent crime - The Mail & Guardian

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fairly difficult
Proposed bill to ban private gun ownership contradicts research and impact assessment findings
Nelson Mandela carried a firearm as did Eugene Terre'Blanche. Both could claim to have done so for self-defence. Yet both also propagated violence for political ends.

Mandela could legitimately claim that taking up weapons was a last resort to bring down a violent and racist regime. Terre'Blanche could claim that the carrying of weapons was necessary to protect the rights, property and security of a group of people who perceived themselves as being under siege.

More broadly, AK-47s were vital to the liberation of the African continent, but have become the calling card of terrorists and organised criminals in post-colonial Africa. The point is that guns as such are value neutral. The context and purpose of their ownership and usage is moot.

The failure to recognise this distinction is the cardinal problem with the current firearms control amendment (FCA) bill, which, among other things, seeks to ban the ownership of guns for self-protection. The most glaring contradiction of the bill is the assumption that law-abiding licenced gun owners are responsible for violent crime.

The FCA bill is ill conceived, has not followed due process, is irrational and is constitutionally challengeable.

Independent research by the Wits School of Governance commissioned by the Civilian Secretariat for Police in 2015 and 2016 underpinned the bill but failed to provide the empirical evidence sought by the police to justify the bill and less still its draconian content.

A raft of Public Access to Information Act applications finally resulted in the Civilian Secretariat publishing the research reports' availability late on Friday 25 June. This was just more than a week before the initial cut-off date for public submissions on the bill.

The socio-economic impact assessment conducted to frame the bill is outdated, contradictory and wholly inadequate. Dated 2016, yet quoting 2017 statistics, the impact assessment was drafted under the aegis of a police minister in Jacob Zuma's…
Tim Hughes
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