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Why I won’t get a gun for self-defence

Defend Truth


Why I won’t get a gun for self-defence


Joseph Dube is a civil society advocate on small arms control and Disarmament. He has worked for civil society organisations including Amnesty International, Gun Free South Africa, International Action Network on Small Arms and the Catholic Church in Johannesburg. He has attended numerous meetings on the UN Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons and on the Arms Trade Treaty in Africa, and at the UN headquarters.

Wanting to get a gun for self-defence seems logical — it provides a sense of empowerment and rationalisation that we are keeping loved ones safe from harm. These feelings, however, are false.

My family and I have been victims of violent crime many times. My car has been hijacked, our home invaded by armed robbers, and, most terrifyingly of all, my daughter was shot in the hand by an armed gang that had followed us from the airport. This happened after I reversed out of my driveway and into the street to try to escape the attack. 

But I will not get a gun for self-defence. 

When I look back at each and every incident where my family was confronted by armed criminals, I cannot see how having a gun would have helped us escape. I cannot see how, when surprised by a group of armed criminals who have chosen the time and the place to attack us, I could have used my gun in self-defence.

What I can see is how my having a gun would have made the situation much more dangerous for myself and my family. If I had tried to defend myself, the criminals would have shot at us, as they did when I drove away — which means I, or even worse, my wife or children, or a passer-by could have been shot and killed. 

The criminals would most likely also have stolen my gun to commit further crimes against other families.

I am a husband and father and I treasure my family and my relationship with my family. A gun in my home will change that. Guns change people and how they interact. Imagine my wife and I have a fight, I don’t think she will feel safe expressing her anger or frustration when I have a gun on my hip. The same with my children. I don’t want my family to feel scared and intimidated by me. 

I don’t want this artificial peace in my home. I want honesty and trust in my family.

I am also actively involved in my community and chair my local Community Policing Forum. I do this because I want to be part of a community that cares, that looks after one another. Having a gun promotes individualism, a belief that you are on your own and that no one will assist you. 

That’s not a community I want to live in.  

Crime is high in South Africa, and all of us are looking for ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Wanting to get a gun for self-defence seems logical, it makes you feel empowered and that you are doing something to keep you and your loved ones safe. 

But this feeling is false. 

While a gun may make you feel safer, it does not actually make you safer. In fact, it increases the risk to you, your family and your community.

The crimes that my family and I have survived are not on-screen acting, and I am not Rambo or Chuck Norris who can successfully defend my loved ones against a group of armed attackers. 

And neither are you. DM/MC


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All Comments 5

  • Dear Mr. Dube, no one has the right to weigh-in on your personal choices. No one was there in the moments when you and your loved ones faced life threatening attacks and experienced injury. I completely respect your personal choice.

    Lawful possession of a firearm for self-defence has to be a conscious decision based on solid training and mental preparation. If, at the time of an attack, an armed person must still wrestle with value-based questions and even an evaluation of the lawful merits of using a firearm, it is too late. A properly prepared gun owner has made peace with the ethical and legal issues that will come to play in a self-defence shooting and will accordingly be able to respond appropriately to a life-threatening attack on themselves or another person.

    I respect the fact that your article is penned from a personal viewpoint and that you have not made a blanket statement against the lawful possession of firearms for self-defence. This dovetails with the ethos of Safe Citizen wherein we don’t hold the extreme view that every person should be armed, nor support the view that South Africa should be gun free.

  • These are the reasons why I myself don’t own a gun.

    That being said, if someone else chooses a different approach, with all the advantage/disadvantages it includes, I won’t deny them the option in this country. If we had a far more effective police force, I would argue more strongly for anti-gun laws, but sadly we don’t.

  • Hey Joseph,

    Everyone must make their own decision regarding firearm ownership and how or when to use it.

    It may well be, as you describe, that a firearm would have made no difference in your situations. But many people worldwide save themselves and their loved ones daily, by using their lawfully possessed firearms effectively. Just take a look at the You Tube channel ‘Active Self Protection’ for video proof of this.

    And the people are not Rambo, they are just like you and me.

    As I respect your decision not to possess a firearm, you should respect my decision to carry my firearm daily.

    As a counterpoint, my wife and I have had many fights over the 2 decades we’ve been together, yet never has either of our firearms played a role – she carries too.

    My loving family understands firearms, respects them and has learned firearm safety. Since they were toddlers my children have safely been exposed to firearms so these are no issue in their lives.

    Our family lives in greater safety because my wife and I trained to use our firearms, and carry these daily. It’s only sad that we have to.

    Let’s learn to live together, you with your decisions and me with mine. We have enough common enemies (i.e. violent criminals) that we should not fight each other , not even with words.

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