This is written in response to Mary Kleinenberg in the Witness – “Guns are not the answer”. (Please see Mary’s original letter at the bottom of the article).
It seems we share common ground, which is a good starting point – we believe that girls and women need to be taught to defend themselves. Allow me to start there then: Why is it that we want to teach ladies to defend themselves but not with the most well-suited tool for the job? You mention pepper sprays and small tazers, but I must ask whether you have undergone any training or had personal experiences with either of these? When there is a 90kg+ perpetrator headed in your direction with only ill and violent intentions, would you truly feel well-equipped enough to ensure your own safety?
You then quote one of Gun Free SA’s “claims”, it being just that – a claim. Where is there any evidence or literature to substantiate the assertion that owning guns increase the risk of being shot? Without proof it remains but a dangerous allegation to make.
Before professing claims which rob fellow women of our freedom, I implore you to dig deeper and review the facts and statistics.
You are correct in stating that South Africa suffers from a violent crime epidemic, but I most certainly find the idea of denying women access to firearms to defend themselves as delusional. As a female gun owner who has carried and owned firearms for many, many years I assure you that there is nothing more empowering and heartening than knowing I give myself and my family the best fighting chance possible.
The threat of domestic violence within homes is unfortunately a topic that needs to be tackled and addressed on its own – in these environments there are many catalysts, and even more dangerous or deadly tools, that can be and are used in such circumstances. It is not a scourge synonymous with firearms.
You asked how many women are actually prepared to kill perpetrators? More than you think. I’d be willing to bet most (if not all) if their lives are in danger. Even more so when protecting their children.
You asked if we are willing to take the risk of mistaking a family member for an intruder? Of course not. This is why training is vital.
So I put to you my stance that if we are committed to saving lives, reducing violence, and creating a safer South Africa for all, we need to allow the women of South Africa to be their own first responders and encourage any woman who chooses to fight back – by whatever means.
Written by Aziza Scheidereiter.
Aziza is the owner of CHS Guns & Ammunition in Somerset West. She is also a qualified firearm instructor, anti-GBV activist, outspoken feminist, and dedicated sport shooter.