Gun ownership debate sparked by ‘hero’ footage
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DURBAN - Recent footage shared on social media showing a taxi driver firing shots in the middle of the road after robbers targeted another motorist has once again brought to the fore the heated debate over the Firearms Control Act Amendment Bill of 2021 (FCAB).
The amendments will among other things remove self-defence as a valid reason to own a firearm.
It was published in May by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service and immediately sparked an outcry with pro-gun ownership groups saying it left people unable to protect themselves against crime.
On social media, reactions to the footage have ranged from the taxi driver being hailed a hero to the amendment bill not being a good idea.
However, Gun Free SA director Adèle Kirsten said it was dangerous to base trashing the amendment bill on this one incident.
“We need to ask whether the robbed driver had a gun and whether it was taken from him. We need to know who shot the driver? Was there anyone else shot? It’s dangerous to look at one incident and jump to the conclusion that the taxi driver is a hero.”
She said that the presence of guns fuelled taxi violence in the country where innocent people were caught in the crossfire.
“This incident was no different, it reinforces to us that guns are not the solution.”
Chairperson of the South African Gun Owners Association, Damian Enslin, said that had the bill already been passed as law, the driver would not have been carrying his gun for self-defence purposes.
“Self-defence is not just the defence of yourself but also the defence of others … In this situation, where the taxi driver came to the assistance of the other driver, another law-abiding citizen within the community.
“Had the bill been passed already, the law would have taken away the right to have a firearm for self-defence purposes, which would have left the taxi driver in this case as mere observer, unable to assist. This is the effect of this legislation if it is passed.”
Public participation in the form of submissions in relation to the bill closed on August 4.
This week IOL reported that a taxi driver fired shots at gunmen who had caused a motorist they were robbing to crash into his vehicle in the Johannesburg CBD. The suspects fled. The motorist was shot in the leg, robbed and windows were smashed.
Footage of the incident showed the taxi driving in the Rea Vaya lane while the motorist, in a white Toyota Corolla, is on the left-hand side.
As he stops, a robber approaches his car and throws something at one of the windows, which shatters. The robber’s accomplices approach from other sides of the vehicle and manage to access the interior of the vehicle as well as the boot.
As the man tries to get away from his assailants, he bumps into the taxi. The taxi driver alights and shoots at the robbers, who then scatter.
According to police, the taxi driver’s gun was licensed and it was taken as it formed part of the investigation, and police had to determine which gun had wounded the robbery victim.