Thursday, January 16, 2014

My perspective on firearm ownership

One of the things I have learned in my exploration into politics is that what you say can easily be misrepresented.

I experienced this recently. I was having an informed and polite debate with a friend of mine on Facebook. The debate mostly focused around the issue of whether firearm regulation improves safety.

I learnt through a reliable source that some people had apparently pointed out my conversation as some type of anti-gun stance.

Let me set the record straight here and now. I am not anti-gun or firearm. I grew up around firearms. We had them on the farm. I was hunting before most boys had fired a BB gun. 

When I entered high school, I joined the shooting team. For my whole high school career I spent 3 days a week practising. I would shoot between 50-100 rounds every practice with .22 German-made Auntluch rifle. I once shot 398(400) in a bisley. 

I also understand the important role hunting plays in nature conservation, and how game farm permits have lead to a massive increase in game population levels (*1). 

I have no problem with responsible people who wish to purchase firearms for defence, for hunting or other recreational uses.

What I do believe in is smart firearm regulation -- that only people who can show that they can responsibly own a firearm and have a valid reason for a firearm can purchase one.

My view is hardly extreme. It is very moderate. Most of the safest countries in the world have deployed successful firearm regulation which has lowered the rate of firearm deaths (*2).

Just because I like firearms does not mean I ignore the cold hard reality about them. Telling me "guns don't kill people; people kill people" is like telling me cigarettes don't cause cancer. A gun kills. That is why I use one to hunt with.

Studies found that people who carry guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens (*3). Societies with poor gun regulation are more likely to have more gun-related deaths. 

Since I am aware of the dangers and risks associated with firearms, I really think it is important that we have smart regulation that allows responsible gun owners to own firearms and that improves the public's safety. 

Improved firearm regulation in Australia saw an end to all mass shootings. According to President Howard (former conservative President of Australia) firearm homicides dropped by 69% over the next decade and firearm suicides dropped by 65% (without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicide rates). (*4)

I understand the need for a hunter to own a hunting rifle, but I don't think selling AR15 assault rifles in our Spars would be a good idea -- a view shared by 85% of American gun owners.(*5) 

South Africa has some very responsible gun ownership laws, but I always believe that there is room to improve our policies and systems so they are more effective and more efficient. 

I am not anti-gun. I am pro responsible firearm ownership. 


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