Guns -what you need to know

Guns are most likely one of the most controversial subjects in any home.

Whilst they serve their purpose to protect you should you be faced with a life or death situation there are also numerous accounts of toddlers and young children accidentally getting hold of parents gun and shooting themselves or a friend.

Personal experience

As a young girl I remember living on a big wide open farm and being taught to shoot a pellet gun rifle. The hard butt of the gun against my shoulder, I pulled the trigger and instantly reeled back with the effect. The noise ringing in my ears.

It scared me. I don’t remember trying again although I do remember my father teaching us the safety around both handling the gun and storing it.

I also recall watching him as he pulled each piece of the gun out and explained how to clean it and how it worked.

Many years later I also stood in a lounge where my father wielded a hand gun in a vicious attack against my mother.

That day I vowed I would never own a gun.

What changed

As a young mom, because of my own trauma with guns, I hardly allowed my four sons to play with guns. The images of the hurt they can inflict far too vivid in my mind.

But, boys have a natural way of gravitating to all things action and it wasn’t long before they were using sticks as guns and building their own Lego rifles.

I finally gave in and took them shopping, careful to only choose bright coloured toy guns that did not resemble a real gun at all, other than shape.

By the time they were teens they were buying their own B.B guns and my many hours of gun safety talks began.

Am I against guns?

I’m not against guns, they are needed by many for protection but I do believe :

  • They need to be stored in a safe away from children
  • A child should never handle a gun
  • You need a licence and this licence should take your mental state into account and be evaluated every year.
  • If you have children in a home where there is a gun, regular conversations about gun safety should be taken into consideration.
  • If your teenager wants to learn to shoot, it should be at a shooting range amidst professionals.
  • You should be a member of the Gun owners Association.

What are the reasons people own guns?

In South Africa, self protection is one of the largest reasons for people to own a gun.

From hijackings, muggings, home invasions and farm murders … there is need for personal safety.

According to the Small Arms survey there are approximately *5 350 000 guns in personal possession in South Africa. (* 2020)

Of this number, only *3 000 000 were legally registered.

What are the laws when owning a gun?

We, in South Africa need to follow strict rules before applying for a gun licence, unlike in some countries.

Here you will need to :

  • Be trained at an accredited training provider
  • Obtain a competency certificate
  • Apply for fire arm licence from the South African Police Force ( SAPS)

You also need to meet the following requirements :

  • Be a South African citizen or permanent resident of South Arfrica
  • Be 21 years or older
  • Be mentally stable and fit
  • Pass a background check
  • Not have a criminal record
  • Not be an addict to either alcohol or drugs

A fire arm licence is valid for 5 years and needs to be renewed 90 days before the previous one expires.

A hunting fire arm licence is valid for 10 years.

How many guns can I own ?

The law is incredibly strict on how many guns you may own.

For personal safety – 1

For hunting/ shooting sports – a maximum of 4 but limits on only 1 handgun, rifle or shot gun. If however you are a member of a reputable hunting or sporting organisation and can prove your membership and can prove your need for more guns you may have more.

Business- For security companies and those who use guns in their business like a shooting range, there is no limit.

What do I need if I own a gun for personal safety?

The number one requirement for owning a gun would be a safe space to keep them. A wall safe with combination lock away from children.

A gun case for transporting your gun. This too needs to be secure and would be wisest with a combination lock.

A gun cleaning kit to keep the gun free of dust and from rusting.

A gun holster, should you wear the gun on your body, like the quality gun holsters from We The People Holsters

Spare ammunition.

Final notes

A gun can be a tool for survival but South Africa has many laws that even should a person break into your home you may not just shoot them.

It is wise to familiarize yourself fully with the law before deciding to buy a gun.

It is also wise to have open conversations with your children about gun safety.

These resources can help:

Molly’s mischief– a gun safety message from McGruff the Crime dog ( age 3 -9)

Not cool kyle– a gun saftey message from McGruff the crime safety dog. ( age 3-12)

Eddie Eagle gun safe activity book ( preschool to grade 4)

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