Runway behind you. Fuel at the filling station you just passed on the highway. Milk spilled on the floor. Gun in the safe.
Pop Quiz: what do these things have in common?
The fact that they’re pretty useless to you when you need them most.
Unless you have been living under a particularly dense rock, you will be very acutely aware that our South African crime situation is a rather dismal one. It has in fact gotten worse in a number of areas, and I highly doubt it will improve in the near future.
The statistics for 2013/2014 present several points worth noting:
(If you are lazy, skip ahead two paragraphs)
- Cases of Murder amounted to 16 914, up 4,33% from the previous year
- Sexual Crime amounted to 62 267 cases, down 5,94%
- Attempted Murder amounted to 16 949 cases, up 3,7%
- Robbery with aggravating circumstances amounted to 118 327 cases, up 11,86%
Subcategories of aggravated robbery in particular make for sobering reading:
- Carjacking cases amounted to 11 129 cases, up 11,42%
- Robbery at residential premises amounted to 19 191 cases, up 7%
- Robbery at non-residential premises amounted to 18 476 cases, up 12,97%
Where exactly am I going with this?
For one, your chances of being murdered, having somebody attempt to murder you, having your car hijacked, having your home invaded, and being robbed at your business or a place of business have all increased markedly.
Where do most hijackings take place? In the driveway of your own home.
Ever since I became a gun owner not too long ago I have advocated armed self-defence as the best way to avoid becoming a victim, and a statistic. Our most effective tool with which to defend ourselves as civilians remains the humble handgun. It is portable, light, easily concealable, and packs a fairly significant punch for its size. Stopping power is not a term applicable to handguns, but with some decent training and practice the average person can be taught to use them effectively enough to fend off a threat. Yes, the licencing process is cumbersome and a more than a little opaque for newbie gun owners, but it is a far from impossible feat.
So why-oh-why would some people go through the process of buying and licencing one of these things, and then leave it locked up in the safe? (Yes, I am going to be preachy in this post)
If you are to suffer a home invasion right now, with your gun locked in the safe, what do you reckon your realistic chances are of gaining access to it and bringing it into play? Somewhere between slim and none? The same goes for you being hijacked in your driveway. Or being held up at the filling station. Or being accosted in a parking lot. Or being attacked when your car breaks down next to the highway.
Or. Or. Or.
Your gun isn’t on you, and therefore it is more useless to you than the knowledge of astrophysics is to a chimpanzee.
Congratulations: you are now defenceless and completely at the mercy of a wonderful set of individuals so renowned for their kindness and mercy, who possess the capability of making your life as miserable as humanly possible for the duration of the near future which, in a perversely merciful twist of fate, could be quite short for you.
A fate that could very likely have been avoided if you had been armed.
Let me stop admonishing people here, and take a step back. Why do people own self-defence firearms and don’t bother carrying them? Is it due to ignorance or a lack of confidence? Or a combination of both? Having spoken to the admittedly small contingent of friends, colleagues, family and acquaintances who choose not to carry, a trend becomes fairly obvious:
- There is some ignorance of the law and when it is appropriate to use lethal force, as well as a misperception as to the consequences of using lethal force legitimately.
- There is also ignorance regarding the reality of becoming a crime statistic, and the ability to fend off an attack successfully.
- Some are uncomfortable with carrying a firearm on their person for sundry reasons.
- Some cannot carry every day due to other restrictions, ie. work policy.
All of these misperceptions (except the last one), as well as the lack of confidence that prevents the licence holder from carrying his SD firearm, can be rectified through training. We are very fortunate in South Africa to have access to some world class trainers and instructors who can help uninitiated gun owners to find a method of carry that works for them. With different holster options readily available for almost any firearm, as well as the knowledge resources at our disposal, there really isn’t an excuse not to carry.
Please carry your gun.
Because if you need it, and you don’t have it, it may as well be on the moon.