Letter: Evidence Does Not Favour Tighter Gun Controls - Cape Argus

14 June 2021 - In the recent report on the draft amendment to the Firearms Control Act, 'Proposed gun amendment slammed', June 9 , the director of Gun Free South Africa, Adele Kirsten, is quoted as saying "The available evidence shows that reducing access to firearms helps make our homes, communities and country safer".

In the recent report on the draft amendment to the Firearms Control Act, 'Proposed gun amendment slammed', June 9 , the director of Gun Free South Africa, Adele Kirsten, is quoted as saying "The available evidence shows that reducing access to firearms helps make our homes, communities and country safer".

She also suggested that the best way to decide the debate on firearms was to use available evidence to make the most informed decision.

She is incorrect on the first point, but correct on the second.

While data on crime, violence and guns is extremely poor in South Africa, some trends are clear from the data which is available.

This first is that the overall murder rate began declining long before the Firearms Control Act of 2000 was fully implemented in 2004. Murder and violence for the most part began dropping in 1994 and continued to drop until 2010, when they began to rise again.

Gun Free SA agrees that the number of civilian-owned firearms dropped between 1999 and 2014 and yet murder rates and gun crime began climbing in 2011.

Worth noting here is that it was in 2000 that the Firearms Control Act 2000 was passed into law. It began to be applied in 2004/5. Significant, too is 2010, when South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup, in the runup to which the state paid greater attention to combating crime.

On the claim that firearms control reduces violence against women, the data such as it is is again not in favour of Gun Free SA, with a 2013 study funded by the Open Society Foundation finding that "intimate partner femicide and suspected rape homicide rates were not statistically different" after five years of implementation of the Firearms Control Act.

While the evidence we have on firearms lacks quality, what we do have, contrary to what Gun Free SA claims, does not in fact support gun-control arguments.

Nicholas Lorimer, Institute of Race Relations  

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