Oscar well versed in use of guns - witness

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oscar mar 17 MEDIA POOL Paralympian Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday. Picture: Daniel Born

Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius was well versed in the use of firearms and had a good legal understanding of when to use lethal force. This was what a witness in Pistorius's murder trial told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday morning.

The 14th State witness to take the stand was Sean Patrick Rens, a fire arm service provider from Walkerville.

Rens told the court he was responsible for fire arm certification, and had met Oscar Pistorius in May 2012 through a mutual friend, Justin Divaris.

He was introduced to Rens after a test drive of one of Divaris's vehicles as a potential client.

Pistorius was looking for a specific type of revolver, a Smith and Wesson model 500 and asked Rens to secure it for him. The athlete bought numerous other firearms from him as well.

Rens told the court he had a record of Pistorius's fitness to wield and purchase firearms, as well as an invoice for his guns.

The document showed Pistorius's purchase of the revolver; a semi-automatic rifle similar to those used by the SAPS, a pump action shotgun, another shotgun and a second Smith and Wesson revolver, the smallest revolver the company makes.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said that even though there was an invoice for these guns, they were never handed over to Pistorius. The transaction was cancelled after the night Pistorius shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

Rens said he believed Pistorius had proficiency with firearms, and had produced his competency card to prove it.

He said there were many conversations about Pistorius's love of firearms.

Rens also had a document about a pre-assessment meeting filled in by Pistorius, saying he understood the requirements for purchasing the guns.

The questionaire described a situation where a person is at home alone in an isolated area, away from police or security services. It asked if you see two men approaching your home, not expecting any visitors, “have they committed an offence that justifies lethal force”? Pistorius answered “no” and in a later question answered that this was just a minor property offence.

The next question posed another situation: if the men come to your house and break the burglar bars, entering your home, and start stealing, can you then discharge a firearm? He also answered no, as his life was not in danger.

The next question detailed how the burglars become aware of the home owner's presence, and they tell him to turn away or be killed. If you are behind a security gate, can you discharge a firearm? Pistorius said “no”.

The final question asked about the same situation but with no security gate, and both men are armed, one with a knife, the other with a firearm. If they advanced, could you fire because you fear for you life? Pistorius answered “yes”.

Pistorius also answered questions about the safe use of firearms, such as not drinking before using them, never firing into the air, using the correct ammunition and no unnecessary handling.

“Know your target,” Pistorius also wrote.

Being “muzzle conscious” - as in knowing the direction you are pointing the firearm - was also noted by the athlete.

Another question concerned the purchase of ammunition. Pistorius wrote the buyer must have a licence for that calibre and it must be purchased from a licensed dealer.

Rens then told the court that he had once discussed a suspected break-in at Pistorius's home that turned out to be the noise of a tumble dryer. Pistorius told Rens he “went into combat mode” and used his gun to “clear” his home.

Defence advocate Barry Roux began his cross-examination by asking Rens about Black Talon ammunition.

Last week, this ammunition was revealed as an ammunition that fragmented on impact and was designed to do major tissue damage.

But on Monday morning, Rens said the ammunition was actually less lethal.

When asked about why not to shoot into the air, Rens said it was because of the ammunition falling back to the ground.

Roux asked if people with a love of firearms were generally reckless.

Rens said that this was not the case.

On the incident with the tumble dryer, Rens said that upon hearing a noise inside your house, drawing a firearm was normal while sweeping your home in a self-defence situation.

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The Star

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