Proposed Gun Law Changes Will Put Women At Even Greater Risk - Weekend Post

12 June 2021 - The Institute of Race Relations IRR believes that proposed changes to SAs gun laws will place women at greater risk of gender-based violence.

The Institute of Race Relations IRR believes that proposed changes to SAs gun laws will place women at greater risk of gender-based violence.

IRR analyst Amy-Claire Morton recently interviewed Girls On Fire spokesperson Tshepi Mmekwa on what the consequences of the proposed changes to the Firearms Control Act would be for women.

One of the proposed amendments is to outlaw gun ownership for self-defence. Police minister Bheki Cele commented recently that " armed citizens won't solve the country's high crime rate". He added: The mere possession of a firearm can lead to increased rates of victimisation, both for the gun owner and those living in the household ... Simply put, this proposed change in law also has the potential to mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of women who are in the clutches of their abusers inside their homes."

But according to Mmekwa, this will only serve to make things worse for women. "Bheki Cele doesn't know what he's talking about. I'm going to be very bold and upfront in saying that.

"Women are being slaughtered in South Africa day in and day out at the hands of their abusers without firearms.

"And let it be on record that there are many policemen who attack their own wives and children in their home and, even when it is reported, their own superiors don't take their firearms away from them ...

"Bheki Cele doesn't under stand that a woman who is 68-70kg ... has got no physical chance against a man who is 100kg or over."

Mmekwa pointed out that the SAPS have admitted their mandate is overstretched Khehla Sitole stated this be fore parliament's police portfolio committee in 2018 .

"Minister Cele is at this point turning women into victims," Mmekwa said. "The police are there to take stats, nothing else. They take a rape kit and they still botch that up ... Bheki Cele has absolutely no right to be talking for women without involving women in this discussion."

According to Mmekwa, taking away legal gun ownership will not only fail to solve the country's high crime rates but will also do nothing to protect women and curb gender-based violence. Instead, it will leave women defenceless and victims of attackers who have the upper hand both in terms of physical advantage and illegal weapons .

Morton says the IRR's read is that the state is attempting to use legislation to evade responsibility for South Africa's high crime rate by trying to blame law-abiding gun owners rather than addressing crime and holding criminals and the police accountable. She says the IRR has investigated arguments that law-abiding firearm owners are a major causal factor for serious and violent crime, that gun ownership places women at risk and that households with guns are unlikely to use them effectively to fend off an attack.

A report will be released soon debunking these claims as being unsupported by available data or research. The IRR says that given the extent of incompetence and criminality within the police service, many households do justifiably need firearms for the purposes of self-defence, and it is campaigning for the rights of firearm owners.

Gabriel Crouse, IRR analyst

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