Disception and Disarmament

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Although the new Firearms Control Bill is being promoted as a means to reduce crime – it clearly will not. In fact the proposed new Bill will lead to increased crime by disarming the potential victims of crime. Even more seriously the Bill grants sweeping powers to the Police for search and seizures – without a warrant! Should the Bill be enacted into law, South Africans could lose their rights to property, privacy, presumption of innocence and protection.

In its first press release after the contents of the Bill were made public, the National Firearms Forum (NFF) declared that the Bill was “not the long awaited breakthrough in government thinking on crime reduction the country was demanding, nor even a step in the right direction. On the contrary it is a retrograde, counter productive measure, which was conceived in error and cobbled together without care or consultation and which by seeking to disarm responsible citizens rather than criminals, will have an effect directly opposite to its own stated intention.”

The NFF which is a coalition of organisations representing most of South Africa’s 3,25 million licensed firearm owners, declared the Bill “ludicrous” and predicted that it would result in “administrative chaos.” A spokesman for the NFF revealed that a government official had conceded that the state had “taken a calculated risk with many provisions in the Bill, in the hope that public apathy will allow them to go unchallenged” (Business Day 24/11/99).

Even the Cape Times in its first article on the Bill (19/11/99) entitled “Gun Law may clash with the Constitution” noted that “provisions creating presumptions of guilt, giving police wide new powers . . . without committing the accused to trial, are likely to end up in the Constitutional Court.” The article quotes Louis Kok, the legal chief of the Department of Safety and Security as admitting that “the strong measures contained in the bill as infringing on the right to privacy and the right to presumed innocence, but were justified because of the threat of violent crime!”

The assertion by the government that they needed this new Bill in order to curtail the threat of violent crime is ridiculous and hypocritical. Armed robbery, murder and rape are already illegal, but the state has let many thieves, murderers and rapists go free. Even the terrorists convicted of the St. James massacre have been set free! What is needed is not more restrictive legislation to complicate the lives of responsible citizens, but enforcement of existing laws. Far from “getting tough” on crime, the government has legalised many crimes such as pornography, gambling, prostitution and abortion. The proliferation of vices such as gambling, violent videos, drug abuse and pornography has been shown to fuel dramatic increases in violent crime.

To maintain that it is “justified” to violate South Africa’s Constitutional Bill of Rights is to follow the tired old “the end justifies the means” arguments of all gun control advocates – from Adolf Hitler, to Joseph Stalin, to Mao TseTung, to Fidel Castro, Col. Mengistu, Idi Amin and Pol Pot.

The rights to privacy, presumption of innocence, property and protection are essential, non negotiable rights that should never be violated by the state for any reason whatsoever.

The Failure of Gun Control
Those advocating stricter gun control are trying to sell us the false premise that fewer guns means a safer society. Yet every example of gun control reveals an increase in violent crime. Washington DC which has had a total prohibition on handguns for more than 30 years has one of the highest murder rates in the world (1 000% worse than neighbouring Arlington, Virginia – where guns are freely available – just across the river from DC.) In fact, those 34 states in the USA that have legalised concealed carry permits for firearms have recorded dramatic decreases in violent crime.

Advocates of stricter gun control have repeatedly referred to the Australian example. In 1996 following the dreadful shooting rampage by a pornography addict who killed 35 people and wounded 19 others, a massive media campaign led to such severe legislation that even Olympic shooters now have to leave the country in order to practise! Reportedly 640 381 firearms were surrendered to/or confiscated by the police. Even shotguns, .22 rifles and collectors items were crushed by steamshovels in an incredibly wasteful exercise which was promoted as a solution to violent crime and a way to ensure a safer society.

However, in the year since the gun confiscation programme was completed – armed robberies in Australia have increased 44 percent! In the state of Victoria (where over 200 000 firearms had been turned in) homicides-with-firearms increased 300 percent! Although incidents of violent crime, including homicides-with-firearms and armed robberies in Australia had been steadily decreasing for 25 years before the gun ban, now that most victims have been disarmed, there has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the elderly. Australian politicians who had so enthusiastically promoted this gun control legislation have been at a loss to explain how such a monumental nation wide effort to confiscate and destroy guns – at over $500 million expense – could have resulted in no improvement in safety. Worse than that – their gun control laws had resulted in the most dramatic deterioration.

However, if interfering with people’s rights to obtain and use weapons for self and family defence has failed to bring down the levels of crime, there is one area where gun control has actually succeeded: In disarming victims of genocides!

Gun Control Precedes Genocide
Ottoman Turkey disarmed the Christian Armenians using Article 166, Penal Code of 1911, and then in 1915 systematically slaughtered 1½ million of them. Many Christians were locked in churches which were burned down, others were crucified.

Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, used Article 182, Penal Code of 1929, to disarmed the population before murdering 36 million (mostly Christian) and peasants.

Adolf Hitler used the Law on Firearms and Ammunition, 12 April 1928 and Weapons Law, 18 March 1938, to limit firearm ownership to government officials. Hitler declared that other nations would emulate this pioneer legislation and follow the National Socialist example. Once the German population was disarmed, the Nazis killed over 13 million.

Mao Tse Tung used Art. 186-7 of the Penal Code, 1935 and Art. 9, Security Law, 22 Oct, 1957 to disarm the people of Red China. Between 1949 and 1976 over 60 million Chinese Christians and peasants were murdered by the Red Army.

Idi Amin used the Firearms Act of 1970 to disarm Ugandans before murdering over 600 000 (mostly Christians) victims.

Rwanda was a Gun Free Zone
The killing fields of Rwanda also provided another graphic warning against the dangers of centralised government control and the consequences of gun control. The MRND government in Rwanda used the Firearms Act of 1962 and 1973 to disarm the population. On 6 April 1994 the government of Rwanda mobilised the army, police and political militia – the interahamwe – to masssacre all the Tutsis (the tribal minority – most of whom were Christians.) Over 500 000 were systematically slaughtered in the Rwandan holocaust.

As the population had been previously disarmed they were helpless to defend themselves against the state, which had a monopoly of weapons. The confiscation of weapons made the horrific massacres in the homes, hospitals and churches of Rwanda possible – by disarming the targeted victims.

The fact is that the greatest threat to life is not from firearm accidents . . . nor even from criminals! The greatest killer in the 20th century has been secular governments, who have disarmed their own citizens. Approximately 160 million people have been killed in over 40 communist states, just in the 20th century alone.

Gun control deprives potential victims of their best means of protection. Disarmed people can easily be exploited and oppressed. If a government doesn’t trust its citizens with weapons then the citizens cannot trust the government with power. A government that fears its people is itself to be feared. No government should ever have a monopoly of force or weaponry.

Gun Free Fantasies and Fallacies
Freedom requires a culture of free debate, a free press and a tradition of tolerating dissent and respecting people’s rights to hold different opinions. While I am not a pacifist, I respect the rights of others to articulate their arguments in support of that position. And of course that would include the rights of others to show the inconsistencies or weaknesses of those arguments. The media should be the free market place of ideas where issues are discussed as objectively as possible.

However, it is unfortunate that many advocates of the gun control agenda – especially Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) – regularly resort to distorting (or inventing) evidence and attacking the person, rather than dealing with the issues. A shocking example of GFSA’s lack of objectivity is seen in the article License to Kill by Marc De Chazal in Today Magazine (December – January 2000).

Even though the vast majority of Christians worldwide throughout history have believed that Christians may use even deadly force for self-defence and to protect the innocent from unlawful attack, David Newby of GFSA is quoted as claiming that those of us who would dare to consider using force to defend our wives and children: “have not come to terms with the Cross of Christ; they have thrown out the Gospel of Love”!!! That is an incredibly presumptuous and slanderous statement. The author, Marc de Chazal, claims that: “Jesus taught us never to kill in whatever circumstance”. However he failed to give any Biblical reference for this novel assertion.

Even more incredibly, Newby claimed: “every time a person decides not to own a gun, I take this as a sign that the Kingdom of God is coming . . .”!! However this new gun free theology is completely lacking in any Scriptural support.

In Exodus 22:2 the Law of God established the basic right of self-defence. Any person is justified in defending himself whenever he is attacked or his life is endangered. Any weapon is permissible for use in self-defence. The Law of God does not say that the homeowner is guilty if he uses a sword, but innocent if he uses a club. The issue is not one of weapons, but the right of self-defence. Our Lord Jesus instructed His disciples to be armed, “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Luke 22:36. Some of Jesus’ disciples, including Peter, had swords (Luke 22:38; John 18:10).

The Westminster Catechism, considered one of the greatest expressions of Biblical teaching, states in its commentary on the Sixth Command “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). (Q 135): “The duties required in the sixth commandment are: all careful studies and lawful endeavours to preserve the life of ourselves and others . . . avoiding all . . . practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defence thereof against violence . . .”

Under Question 136, the Westminster Catechism teaches: “The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are: all taking away the life of ourselves or of others, except in the case of public justice, lawful war or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the necessary means of preservation of life . . . and whatever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.” Yet the author of Licence to Kill ignores this historical position of the majority of Christians throughout the centuries.

Instead the article denigrates those Christians who uphold the right of self defence as people who “have not come to terms with the cross of Christ, they have thrown out the gospel of love” and “live by the sword!”

However, the writer of the article, the managing editor of Today, who is a member of the Church of England in South Africa (CESA), is in conflict with the Thirty Nine Articles (adopted in 1562 in London) which is the foundation for all Anglicans and Episcopalians – including CESA. In Article 37 it clearly states: “It is lawful for Christian men to carry weapons . . .”

Aside from misquoting myself and misrepresenting the position of all Christians who hold to the basic right and Biblical responsibility of self and family defence, License to Kill is an essentially humanistic article. The basic presupposition of the writer of this article, seems to be that guns cause crime. This has not been the Biblical position. “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside . . .” Mark 7:21-23.

We can also ask how God dealt with the first murder in Genesis 4, when Cain killed Abel. Did God ban all rocks, clubs or knives, or whatever the murder weapon was? No, God banished the murderer, not the tool. It is a bad workman who blames his tools. It seems completely illogical to blame a cold, metal, inanimate object – a tool – for the evil that some people do. In Genesis 9:5-6, God instituted capital punishment for murder “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made man.” This death penalty for murder was repeatedly stated, including by our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 7:9-13). Our Lord Jesus upheld the Law (Matthew 5:17-20).

The assertion in “License to Kill” that “Jesus taught us never to kill in whatever circumstance,” is not only unsubstantiated by the New Testament, but it presumes that the Lord Jesus Christ is not the “same yesterday, today and forever”. It denies the Word of God. Declaring the Old Testament, and by implication the Old Testament’s God, to be bad, outdated and even evil. Yet “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful” 2 Tim 3:16. The Lord Jesus is the same God who commanded the Israelites to attack Jericho (Joshua 5:14-6:5); to train for war (Judges 3:1-2); and who killed the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:32-35), Annias and Sapphira (Acts 5:3-11) and King Herod (Acts 12:23).

“License to Kill” denies the validity of the Law of God. It denies the Reformed teaching of the Trinity, by presuming that Jesus Christ is in opposition to the Law of God, revealed under the Old Covenant. It accepts the basic humanistic presupposition that people are basically good and that the real problem is laws and weapons. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God . . . Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18.

The suggestion that violence would cease if only we could have gun control is naive. History records that violence was prevalent prior to the invention of firearms in the 15th century! Ghinges Khan, Attila the Hun, and the Vikings managed to kill vast numbers of people without any firearms. A Gun Free South Africa would not be violence free – in fact it would inevitably be far more violent. Gun control has never worked and it never could work because its presuppositions are false and its solutions are unrealistic. In the Bible, weapons control was always a pagan attempt to usurp excessive power (Judges 5:8; 1 Samuel 13:19).

GFSA’s farcical argument that “having a gun does not make you safer” has been soundly refuted by many major international studies. Professor John Lott of the University of Chicago Law School has sent shock waves throughout the gun control lobby with his published 18 year study on firearms and crime. “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding crime and gun control laws” documents that gun control laws are counterproductive – leading to an escalation of violent crimes. In fact those states with the largest increases in legal gun ownership have also seen the most dramatic decreases in violent crimes. Those areas with the most restrictive gun control laws have experienced the worse escalations in violence. (For further documentation, contact UCA for copies of “The Right of Self Defence” available in English and Afrikaans; “What Does the Bible say about Gun Control?”; and “Criminals Prefer Unarmed Victims”; available in Afrikaans)
Nevertheless, despite the facts that, everyday, hundreds of crimes are prevented, hundreds of victims are protected and countless tragedies are averted by – armed citizens, GFSA supports every scheme to disarm the citizens of South Africa. De Chazel expresses disbelief that anyone could question the proposed new legislation which he declares: “obviously in the interests of public safety!”

We wouldn’t see search and seizures, arrests without a warrant and the violation of our constitutional rights to protection and presumption of innocence as “obviously in the interests” of anything – except tyranny.

Firearm Free Zones – Open Invitations for Homicidal Maniacs
The proposed Bill would also mandate “firearm free zones” making schools, churches, shopping centres, etc. defenceless – soft targets for violent criminals.

The recent spate of violent attacks on public schools in America have again highlighted the dangerous folly of gun control: 22 000 federal, state and local gun control laws in the USA have proven monumentally incapable of preventing criminals from obtaining and using firearms – including in “gun free” schools! Obviously criminals don’t respect laws.

Commenting on recent school massacres in the USA, Dr. David Schiller, an authority on terrorism and author of books on firearms, military history and terrorism, wrote that enacting even more gun control laws would be counter productive. Rather, he advised that the authorities learn from how Israel dealt with terrorist attacks on schools. In the early 1970’s, PLO terrorists launched a series of attacks on schools, kindergartens and school buses. At Maalot, in May 1974, over 100 school children and their teachers were taken hostage – 25 were murdered, 66 wounded.

As a result of such shocking atrocities, teachers and kindergarten nurses started to be armed. Parents and grandparents took turns as volunteers to guard the schools on shifts. No school group went on hikes or trips without being escorted by armed teachers or parents. High school boys were trained in firearms and in security procedures. After a number of failed terrorist attempts, attacks on schools in Israel ceased. Evidently terrorists prefer unarmed victims – soft targets. So why should South Africa follow in the footsteps of failure enacting laws that will make our schools gun free zones – defenceless – soft targets for homicidal maniacs?

The St. James Massacre should present a compelling argument against declaring churches a firearm free zone. It was precisely because the APLA terrorists regarded the church to be a soft target that they attacked it on 25 July 1993. In eight seconds the terrorists had killed 11 people and wounded or crippled 55 as they fired directly into the packed congregation and hurled hand grenades into the middle of the crowded church. Only the prompt action of Charl van Wyk ended the bloodshed. Drawing his .38 revolver, this church member fired back at the terrorists, wounding one. The heavily armed terrorists immediately fled. The police publicly praised Charl’s prompt action, declaring that many more would have died had he not returned fire so quickly and accurately.

Some people do use firearms to commit horrible crimes, but far more people use firearms to prevent horrible crimes from being committed. Firearms are used five to six times more often for defensive purposes than for criminal purposes.

The proposed new Firearms Control Bill represents a threat to the lives and liberty of all South Africans. If the Bill is enacted into law many thousands of defenceless South Africans will lose their lives to violent crime. Millions more would lose their rights to property, privacy, presumption of innocence and protection.

What You can Do
If you believe in the right to self defence and presumption of innocence, then contact your elected representative in Parliament (PO Box 15, Cape Town 8000) and urge him, or her, to fight against this new proposed Firearms Control Bill – with all the means at their disposal. Also contact the Ministry of Safety and Security (Private Bag X9080 Cape Town 8000, Tel: (021) 465-7400, Fax (021) 461-2594 or (012) 339-2819) and the President (Private Bag X1000, Pretoria 0001, Tel: (012) 319-1500, Fax: (012) 323-8246 or E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) to express your opposition to this Bill. You can also direct comments and written submissions concerning the Bill to: The Programme Manager, Firearms Control, Private Bag X922, Pretoria 0001. Also be sure to speak up on radio phone in programmes and write letters to the editor of your favourite magazine and local newspaper.

If you do not stand up and speak out for your rights now – you may lose much more than your rights to property, privacy and protection. You may lose your life and the lives of your loved ones – to crime or oppression.

“Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust the Lord, she does not draw near to her God. Her officials are roaring lions, her rulers are evening wolves, who leave nothing for the morning. Her prophets are arrogant, they are treacherous men. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the Law.” Zephaniah 3:1-4

Dr. Peter Hammond
Director

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa [email protected] - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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