Campaigning for the disarmament of citizens is a repellent pastime in itself, and is but a degree removed from demanding that the police themselves be disarmed as well. Judging by the outcomes of terrorist attacks on unarmed police from Xinjiang, to London, to more recently Paris, I believe it safe to conclude that disarming police is an exceptionally bad idea. The Chinese appeared to have cottoned on to this fact, and are arming their police for the first time in decades in response to the rise in terrorist attacks.
One would think that the South African Police Service, responsible for policing one of the most violent societies on Earth, would be relatively safe from such irrational machinations.
Clearly not, if you peruse the latest press release from our opposition published yesterday, 29 January.
In this extensive piece of emotive fiction numerous (incorrect) claims and accusations are made regarding the suitability of the police’s R5 rifles for use in public order policing. Apart from referring to the R5 as a “Massacre Rifle”, a term which does not exist, there are several issues with the press-release:
- “Two years after the Marikana massacre, the South African Police Service (SAPS) is still using R5 assault rifles for crowd control.” – Incorrect. It is not the primary tool used for public order policing by the SAPS.
- “The R5 was introduced into South African policing in the late 1980’s, at the height of oppression during Apartheid. Because bullets shot from R5s disintegrate on impact, police officers who gun people down in crowd control situations can’t be held to account as bullets cannot be traced back to them.” – Incorrect. The R5 was introduced into the South African Police circa 1992. Secondly, the police do not use what is here described to be frangible ammunition. The SAPS uses 5.56x45mm NATO Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ammunition in their R5s, which does not splinter or disintegrate.
- “Says Kirsten, ‘We are calling on police leaders to show their commitment to the vision of SAPS as a professional and demilitarised police service (as articulated in the NDP) by disarming Public Order Policing units of R5 rifles and announcing this banning at the first sitting of parliament in 2015.’“ – Incorrect emotive argumentation. Shooting live ammunition at an unruly crowd is not an ideal first-response to civil unrest, but it would be nothing short of foolhardy of removing the option of lethal force from the SAPS’ toolbox.
The document goes on to list various other irrelevant, untrue, and disingenuous claims and accusations, some of which are outright slanderous. Considering the scenes at the Bedford Centre yesterday where 7 people were injured when a gang opened fire on CIT guards and shoppers with AK47s, is it appropriate to demand that our police get rid of their rifles when facing such criminals?
Of course appropriateness has nothing to do with the issue. Gun Free South Africa has a long history of lies and dishonesty. Their recent television campaign was pulled off the air after the Advertising Standards Authority found it to be misleading, and their claims that people are “four times as likely to be shot with their own guns” were extensively debunked by the person who conducted their commissioned studies for them. This is an organisation that cannot be trusted to tell the truth or conduct themselves rationally, and they have no place in the South African firearms debate.
South Africans complain that the SAPS are not effective in fighting crime, yet there are people who support a campaign that seeks to disarm the police. This is illogical. This is irrational. I want an effective police force that are capable of enforcing the law and fighting criminals, and that means allowing them the use of the best equipment for the job. The job being the police going toe-to-toe with gangs of AK47 wielding criminals.
Hands-off my SAPS.