Since Gun Free South Africa is this week’s hot topic, it is prudent that we take a closer look at some of their favourite fallacies of logic. GFSA’s self-stated goal is to supposedly make South Africa safer by “reducing gun-related violence”. So far, so good. Problems begin creeping in when one takes a gander at their methodology and the bizarre conclusions they draw. Especially where the FCA of 2000 is concerned. Here follows an analysis of some of their favourite myths, untruths, and outright lies.
The FCA of 2000 did not save lives as claimed
GFSA were instrumental in the creation of the Firearms Control Act of 2000. This is something of which they are rather proud. They also claim the FCA saved lives: “more than 4500 lives were saved across five SA cities from 2001 to 2005”. That soundbite comes from a research article by Dr. Richard Matzopoulos published in the SAMJ. There are numerous serious problems with Dr. Matzopoulos’s research. The most obvious one is that it was impossible for the FCA to save any lives between 2001 and 2005, since it only became law in July 2004.
Now, I expected a GFSA board member would be familiar with how their favourite law works. Specifically that laws cannot have a retroactive effect.
This brings us to the next problem: the assertion that the FCA has made South Africa safer. Take a look at the graph below.
The South African homicide rate peaked in 1991 at just below 79 homicides per 100 000. It then started a long-run downward trend throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The vertical red line represents the Firearms Control Act becoming law in mid-2004. We can make several interesting observations from this graph.
- The murder rate started a notable downward trend from 1991, long before the creation of the FCA, and halved itself within 12 years.
- Immediately after the implementation of the FCA in mid-2004, the downward trend stopped and was briefly reversed.
- Similarly, the murder rate began increasing sharply after the 2010 National Firearm Amnesty. This is a correlation, and not necessarily a causal factor.
The murder rate was declining perfectly fine before the FCA was even written. Clearly other factors were also at play here. In fact, the only notable reversal of our homicide rate in 20 years (2011) happened after the FCA became law. So much for the assertion that the FCA would be the panacea for our violent crime rate.
Additionally, published work by Dr. Richard Wesson further dismantles GFSA’s claim that the FCA saved lives. Dr. Wesson’s research is extensive, so I will only focus on a single aspect of it here. Approximately 777 963 new firearm licences were issued between 1994 and 1999. At the same time the firearm murder rate dropped by 6.5%, and the overall murder rate was in a long-run downward trend. In summary, during the same period in which more South African citizens bought and licenced firearms, the murder rate steeply declined.
More guns, less crime.
GFSA are complicit in arming criminals
Another favourite GFSA myth propagated through the media is that criminals primarily source their firearms from civilians. This claim forms the foundation for GFSA’s accusation that civilian firearm owners are irresponsible, and should have their rights and privileges curtailed. They choose to ignore the fact that the SAPS lose around 8 times as many firearms per capita as civilians do. As if to emphasise this, there have been several high-profile scandals in 2017 alone regarding firearms lost due to SAPS corruption.
GFSA were a major role-player in the 2010 National Firearm Amnesty. This is the exact same amnesty where citizens surrendered firearms to the SAPS which were later sold by the corrupt Colonel Chris Prinsloo to criminal gangs. Prinsloo leaked more than 2400 guns to criminals over an 8-year period. Police linked over 1000 murders to these guns. Thanks to GFSA pushing the amnesty and senior SAPS officials intimidating the public, thousands of citizens surrendered their guns to the police. And then corrupt police officers leaked thousands of those guns to criminals. Criminals who then used those guns to rob, rape, and murder innocent people.
If those guns stayed safe and sound in civilian hands, how many lives would have been saved?
Gun Free South Africa are therefore directly complicit in arming dangerous and violent criminals. Their amnesty provided the perfect vehicle to channel civilian firearms to criminal gangs. They have never accepted responsibility for the role they played. Instead they ran an advertisement attacking civilian firearm owners.
It would be infinitely more accurate to say “If your stolen amnesty gun was there, so were GFSA.”
You are not more likely to have your firearm used against you
Apart from the role they played in arming criminals, GFSA are also fond of scaring people into being defenceless victims. According to GFSA, “research in South Africa shows that you are four times more likely to have your gun used against you than to be able to use it successfully in self-defence”. This is an outright fabrication. GFSA base their claim on research done by Anthony Altbeker. Interestingly, Mr. Altbeker is considerably more circumspect in how he draws his own conclusions:
- “That said, in the nature of things, the cases we are looking at here are self-evidently ones in which the victims have been unable to defend themselves. They tell us, therefore, only part of the story about the likelihood, or otherwise, of defending oneself with a firearm.” – Are South Africans Responsible Gun Owners – A. Altbeker et al (2000)
- “The methodology of the study militates against drawing the conclusion that armed victims are much more likely to lose their weapons than to use them successfully.” – Guns and Public Policy in SA – A. Altbeker (1999)
GFSA preach compliance in a society where compliant victims are regularly murdered by criminals. In fact, they go as far as using lies to frighten people out of defending themselves. And if those scare tactics do not work, they blame the victims for fighting back against criminals.
GFSA would rather see a woman robbed, raped, or murdered than have her successfully defend herself against armed criminals. Such wallowing in victimhood is not only unbecoming: it is dangerous. It is also a perversion of logic and morality. Especially when considering how many ordinary citizens have successfully fought back against their attackers.
GFSA is a closed-circuit of bad ideas
GFSA have repeatedly foisted their bad ideas upon the public, and we have had to live with the consequences thereof. They have demonstrated complete inability to learn from past experience. This is why they keep repeating the same bizarre mistakes over, and over, and over again. If you ceaselessly perform the same experiment, and get the same undesirable result, are you not going to question your motives and methodology at some point? Not if you are GFSA.
A reader asked the following question after yesterday’s article; “If Gun Free SA had the support of South-African citizens, why are they then being funded by a foreign organization instead of getting their funding from their alleged support base in South-Africa?”
I think GFSA doesn’t enjoy any domestic support, because nobody really believes in their cause. Their behaviour paints them either as being childishly naive, or grossly stupid, or completely mentally ill. It would be amusing if it weren’t for the fact that their terrible ideas are getting people killed. It is past time we begin holding them accountable. They have turned enough people into unwilling victims as it is.
Written by Gideon Joubert
Gideon is owner and editor of Paratus