Get rid of those guns

SOME countries debate whether their constitutions allow them the right to bear arms. They also argue among themselves whether more people die from legally or unlawfully owned arms.

SOME countries debate whether their constitutions allow them the right to bear arms. They also argue among themselves whether more people die from legally or unlawfully owned arms.

We in South Africa have no such debate. Our Constitution does not grant such a right and we know that the vast majority of armed crimes are perpetrated by individuals bearing arms that they legally should not.

It is within this context that we are behind the initiative, which is today a week old, to get owners of firearms, legally and illegally owned, to hand them back to the authorities so they can be incinerated.

South Africa has a gun culture that is rooted in its being. It is a country founded on the violence of the colonisers. Apartheid sustained itself through the use of the firearm and the freedom struggle romanticised the bullet as the way to the ballot.

We even have a president who at the slightest provocation breaks into song calling for his machine gun. And that is where the changing of this culture must start - at the top. President Jacob Zuma cannot lead a government that decries the proliferation of firearms in society and still gloriously endorses the same in a verse.

It is also essential that the police do their job. The lack of faith in and fear of the police contributes greatly to law-abiding citizens feeling the need to own firearms and of criminals believing they can get away with unlawful ownership and the use of firearms.

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