By Peter Moss (Richmark Sentinel)
Is gun control acceptable?
Having waited yet another long year for government to release the eagerly-awaited crime statistics to prove government policy, promises of reduced crime and the Minister of Safety and Security right. Sadly we have an entirely different, even grimmer picture. Confrontational crime is higher and the gratuitous violence against citizens continues with increasing ferocity.
While heavily guarded and unrepentant ANC Ministers attempt to sweep the disastrous results of their handiwork under the carpet. Pointing the finger of blame elsewhere has become a trademark of all who's every appearance on TV seems to pause only long enough for them to change the foot in their mouth. Every excuse in the book has been used from whinging whites to the lack of co-operation from the business community. Just when is this government going to realise that they are responsible.
Weren’t Ministers Tshwete and Nqakula repeatedly informed that introduction of the Firearms Control Act would increase crime? Has the SAPS not slavishly and foolishly followed these Ministerial commands to drastically reduce legal firearms in South Africa? Have more than 650, 89 percent of firearm dealers not been put out of business? Some claimed but unverified 700,000 firearms ripped by effective confiscation from their owners hands simply because they could afford the laborious licensing procedures. Some 150,000 sales denied by a registration process that was purpose designed to fraught applicants with expensive bureaucratic stumbling blocks, unrequired qualifications and years-long engineered administrative delays. Denial of licences, new and old by capricious government minions who have been given the power to reject for purely arbitrary reasons and unpublished criteria any application, forcing the applicant into an expensive legal process to overturn.
The government using the Firearms Control Act has removed either directly or indirectly more than a claimed but unverified 1,400,000 firearms from citizens who simply want to legally protect themselves. By deliberately smashing the market, dragging its feet, harassing dealers and usurping constitutional powers of appropriation.
In a five-year period, the lie of gun control has once again been proven true. Crime has not decreased as promised despite the removal of these firearms from citizens. Criminals have just as many, if not more guns and show their appreciation of the ANC government’s efforts to increase safety in the criminal work place by taking advantage of any protection offered to them.
Give criminals defenceless victims and gun free zones and they have safe havens to operate in. Where the only gun they need worry about is in the hands of the police or armed security service that will take more time to arrive than needed to kill. Taking firearms out of the hands of citizens and giving criminals defenceless victims means criminals need not worry about being shot or harmed on the “job”. The school shootings of the USA and other countries are perfect examples of this principle at work.
Citizens and government who unthinkingly support criminals by demanding disarmament and gun free zones need to know that their actions are not without consequences and they indeed are responsible for making the criminal work place safer. Being safe for criminals does not imply safe for citizens, in fact the opposite is true.
Nowhere is this more apparent than when the pool of civilian arms is decreased. The balance of power shifts in favour of the weapon-wielding criminal who has less to fear from unexpected quarters and the chances of being captured for arrest, stopped, shot and wounded or even killed is decreased. The essential protective element of the unknown danger to the criminal’s life and success in crime is reduced or removed.
Nor will licensing stop determined criminals. The most thorough study of the weapons behaviour of felony prisoners, the Wright-Rossi project funded by the National Institute of Justice found that five-sixths of the felons did not buy their handguns from a retail outlet anyway.
Criminals have little trouble buying stolen or smuggled guns on the streets. It remains to be proven that the very costly exercise of gun licensing or strict control measures would significantly reduce crime. Given the very clear civil liberties problems with licensing, it cannot be said that the claimed but unproven benefits outweigh the costs.
Professor Gary Kleck of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University study showed that there were some two million self-defence acts in the USA per year where a crime was stopped or prevented by citizens with arms. That less than one in a thousand defensive gun uses involves a criminal being killed. That the armed public ended or prevented more crime than the police did.
At least fifteen major studies and some twenty in total including the US government’s own study all show positive results of the successes of armed self-defence. Although one may argue the accuracy of the actual figures there can be no argument over the fact that it is a very large number indeed. The self-defence role of civilian firearms in the fight against crime cannot be denied.
Reputable research has consistently shown that victims who resist with a firearm are less likely than unarmed victims to lose their property in robberies and in burglaries. Consistently, research also has indicated that victims who resist by using guns or other weapons are less likely to be injured compared to victims who do not resist or to those who resist without weapons. This is true whether the research relied on victim surveys or on police records, and whether the data analysis consisted of simple cross-tabulations or more complex multivariate analyses. These findings have been obtained with respect to robberies and to assaults.
With regard to studies of rape, although samples typically include too few cases of self-defence with a gun for separate analysis, McDermott, Quinsey and Upfold, Lizotte, and Kleck and Sayles all found that victims who resisted with some kind of weapon were less likely to have the rape attempt completed against them. Findings concerning the impact of armed resistance on whether rape victims suffer additional injuries beyond the rape itself are less clear, due to a lack of information on whether acts of resistance preceded or followed the rapist's attack. The only two rape studies with the necessary sequence information found that forceful resistance by rape victims usually follows, rather than precedes, rapist attacks inflicting additional injury, refuting the proposition that victim resistance increases the likelihood that the victim will be hurt. This is consistent with findings on robbery and assault.
The advice of government, police, rape organisations and self-serving protection agencies of “don't resist” is patently wrong. Whilst nobody wants to accept legal responsibility or be accused of causing a death or injury by giving such advice or that all attempts at resistance will succeed. It is foolhardy and bordering on criminal to deny the truth to citizens who must be made aware of what works and what does not work for their own protection. The experience of Orlando Florida when faced with a rape epidemic is a lesson that should be available to all women yet sadly the one intervention that can drastically reduce rape is never even mentioned.
In 1966 Orlando Florida had a rape epidemic, they did not declare the town rape free or crime free, set up safe zones, community policing or have busybodies handing out pamphlets telling women to stay locked up at home for their own safety. Orlando law enforcement, considerably more enlightened than the SAPS, set up a free training program and trained more than 2,500 women in the safe use of firearms. Encouraging them to purchase their own if they did not already own a firearm. This program was much publicised in the media ensuring its effectiveness.
What were the results? Alan Krug presented his findings in "The Relationship between Firearms Ownership and Crime: A Statistical Analysis," which was reprinted in the Congressional Record, 99th Cong., 2d session, January 30, 1968; The next year rape fell by 88 percent in Orlando (the only major city to experience a decrease that year); burglary fell by 25 percent. Not one of the 2,500 women ended up firing her firearm; the deterrent effect of the publicity sufficed. Five years later Orlando's rape rate was still 13 percent below the pre-program level, whereas the surrounding standard metropolitan area had suffered a 308 percent increase.
These results are not unique, similar well publicised training programs for armed merchants sharply reduced robberies in stores in Highland Park, Michigan, and in New Orleans; a grocers organisation's gun clinics produced the same result in Detroit.
Does government have no idea of what works to solve our violent crime problem in particular murder and rape? Such irrefutable results cannot be ignored when simple low cost training of women and allowing the freedom to own firearms has the potential to more than halve the rape rate and reduce violent crime in a very short period of time.
One must question a government willing to sacrifice the lives of citizens to impose its flawed disarmament policy. By attempting to equate the removal of citizen’s firearms as a crime fighting measure or for citizen safety, chasing guns instead of arresting and punishing criminals there is no doubt the ANC government has deliberately misdirected the police and criminal justice system.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
By Peter Moss (Richmark Sentinel)