The intended audience for this piece is not gun owners. Although it is useful to be reminded at times why we chose as we did. This is addressed to skeptics, anti-gun proponents or those who are undecided. It is not intended to victimize or insult anyone of any viewpoint. This is as I and many other see it.
Victimhood has its perks. Its chic to be a victim nowadays. When something bad happens which you ostensibly cannot control, you instantly become the center of attention. People want to commiserate and make you feel better. Who doesn’t like that in today’s harsh world where you are just a Facebook profile hunting for likes on your inane posts that nobody actually cares about?
It’s always somebody else’s fault. Mark Manson details the vicious cycle of victimhood in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck:
- Either you are awesome and everybody else sucks and therefore you deserve special treatment, or;
- You suck and everyone else is awesome therefore you deserve special treatment.
Both of these attitudes are supremely unhealthy for authentic living in today’s world.
Who really wants the responsibility of being an adult? It’s hard. Really hard. But we do it every single day. We take responsibility for paying our bills on time, for being at work on time, for loving our families and taking care of every facet of their wellbeing. Well, almost every facet.
The Bill of Rights
The South African Bill of Rights recognises that human beings, of equal worth and dignity, have the right to life and bodily integrity. But there are two things this document cannot do:
- It cannot grant these rights and;
- It cannot guarantee these rights.
Take note that the Bill of Rights only recognises these inherent human rights. Not even the State can guarantee these rights. The South African Police Service acting commissioner has capitulated to rampant crime levels and publicly stated to parliament that they are unable to fulfil their constitutional mandate.
You are left utterly alone.
Now you have a decision to make. Either you can choose to keep living under the illusion that the State has to protect you, or you can face the truth: you can do what our elected officials cannot do. But this comes at a price. You will have to take-up something that’s been your responsibility all along – the safety of your family and yourself. But is it moral to do so?
What is morality?
Morality is a collection of principles concerning the distinction between good and evil. This may sound like there can be many grey areas. While this may be true, many of these grey areas can be coloured in by asking what does one “ought” to do in a specific situation. If we are addressing the “moral ought” we are not talking about “I ought to leave in 5 minutes if I want to catch the bus”. What is the better thing to do on the whole and not just for me personally? Let’s see how this works in practice.
We can unanimously agree that one ought not kill, maim and rape.
We can unanimously agree that we ought to protect our loved ones and ourselves.
We can unanimously agree that not everybody lives by these moral principles even if they agree the above are true.
What decision are you faced with when someone who does not live by the first principle comes into your home, or approaches you on the street, or accosts your loved ones? Someone who doesn’t care about the pain he causes you or your loved ones? Someone that intends to visit great and unspeakable pain and suffering on you and your loved ones?
Will you attempt to rationalize with the attacker to find out what drives this person to discount the value of fellow human beings as some Twitterati pontificates? Will you declare in a morally superior tone of voice that you do not believe in violence and that he must do as he wills with your loved ones, for you shall not debase yourself and deign to lower yourself to their level?
Think for a moment of the fear and anguish in your loved one’s eyes as you, in your holy fervor, refuse to defend their right to life and bodily integrity because your principles will not allow it. Or do you suppose you will see admiration in their eyes as you stoically accept their violation? The outcome will be same: Victimhood. Pain. Suffering. Death.
Or will you take-up the moral responsibility to defend the ones you love from ravagers? Will you stand up to evil by doing the hard thing? Maybe even making the ultimate sacrifice of your life if it means there is a chance your family can escape the unspeakable?
The price you must pay
Whatever your choice, there will be a price to pay. The price of victimhood has been clearly described. The price of not being a victim means being prepared.
Notice that up until now, I have not mentioned or advocated any tool for effective defense of yourself or your loved ones. I wished to make it clear that evil intent is in the hearts of men. Not in what is in their hands. However, I will do so now.
You need a tool. A tool that negates the advantage of a stronger assailant that has probably lived a much harder and more violent life than you. That tool is a firearm. The type of which must be thoughtfully considered.
South African criminals are becoming increasingly violent. We experience a daily Chirstchurch Attack in South Africa with more than 52 murders per day. Every. Single. Day. Criminals are armed. It would be negligent of us not to be ready for such attacks. If there was ever a time to take-up this moral responsibility, it is now.
The cost to do so means:
- complying with a draconian Firearms Control Act;
- the additional monetary burdens of acquiring a competency certificate, firearm and training;
- the time burden of practicing with your firearm to become proficient in its use;
- the responsibility of keeping it safe.
Deciding to own and carry a firearm is a great responsibility not to be taken lightly. Many people may feel they are not up to the responsibility. This is of course understandable. But it can be overcome.
However, ideological objections to carry such implements that are inherently morally neutral fails to take reality into account: criminals are armed, the police are not there the instant when something bad happens to you, and they won’t be for at least 36 minutes as a best-case response time.
Freedom of choice
“A firearm only has one purpose: to kill” I hear many say. The purpose of a firearm is to defend oneself from someone who means you harm. It is not for the express purpose or intent to kill.
The choice is yours. You can choose to be the “morally superior” victim. If this is your free choice, do not presume to make this choice for thousands who have decided to take up their moral responsibility.
Or you can choose to be a hero. For yourself. And for your loved ones.
Wikus Erasmus is an Independent Researcher at the University of Johannesburg