You don’t shoot people by accident

In a previous post, I touched on a few issues regarding violence and Christianity, using the movie Straw Dogs as a spring board. I was reminded of what I had to say about guns last week. I’m sure most will know why. Here’s the paragraph from that post:

Guns are a huge problem, as strange as it may seem to the guns don’t kill, people do crowd, guns are designed to kill and maim, this is their purpose. Back to Kent, he waxes lyrical about the value of owning a gun, and how it is the right of every person to defend themselves. I agree, every person has the right to some form of defence, but planning to shoot people seems a bit excessive, and if you own a gun for self defence, then you are planning to shoot people. I’ve heard all the rhetoric surrounding this, but if you doubt what I am saying, find someone with a gun and ask them what they would do if someone was breaking into their house, then tell me they don’t plan to shoot people.

Strange as it may seem, this is the kind of thinking that popped into my head when people asked what I thought of the “Oscar Pistorius shooting” (he’s more famous than Reeva Steenkamp).

The title of this post may imply that I don’t much like Pistorius and believe he is guilty, well it is true I’m not a fan. I could get into the reasons why I’m not a fan and tell you I’m not surprised that he did it, but I’d be lying. I don’t need to like someone to give them the benefit of the doubt. So I’m not getting into his guilt or innocence, I’m going to stick to my title.

The following paragraphs come from a BBC report on the incident:

South Africa has among the highest rates of crime in the world and many residents keep weapons to protect themselves against intruders.

Gun ownership is strictly regulated and obtaining a licence can take years due to bureaucratic red tape.

Ok, so it’s tough to get guns legally, there’s probably nothing tough about getting guns in African countries in general. This aside, it doesn’t strike anyone as odd that as a nation, we deem it ok to plan on shooting strangers. If you don’t get what I’m saying reread the quote from my previous post.

A report from the Telegraph had the following to say:

There have been several tragic cases where people have killed members of their own household who they mistook for intruders. Last November, a father was arrested for shooting dead his 15-year-old daughter in their garden as she returned home from a night out with friends.

In 2004, Springbok rugby player Rudi Visagie shot dead his 19-year-old daughter after he mistakenly thought she was a robber trying to steal his car in the middle of the night.

So assuming the report of it being a similar situation, Pistorius is in good company, anyone can make that mistake…


Not anyone can make that mistake, only someone with a gun can make that mistake. Only someone who deems shooting at an unidentified person to be a reasonable reaction to uncertainty could make this mistake.

I’ve been in this country all my life. Dad was a game ranger, so there were always guns around. We were never sheltered from guns, they were there, dad cleaned them in front of the TV, we sat next to them in the front of the bakkie, and we saw animals being shot. We also respected that they were something better left alone. No doubt my brother and I have different views on them, but we both respect the power and danger that comes with one of these weapons.

The thing with this kind of gun centred upbringing, which is probably more exposure than the average South African of my generation, and the same, or a bit less, than that of hobby hunters’ children, is that it seems to breed the idea that to use this as a means to defend yourself is not only alright, but it is right – it is your right.

In the excerpt from the Telegraph none of the cases mentioned included a person who accidentally shot someone, they simply shot the wrong person. All of them fully intended to shoot someone, and they weren’t too concerned who that someone was until after the fact. In fact each of these “accidental” shootings was likely premeditated, they planned to use that weapon in the event they thought there was an intruder, and when the time came, they did. This is the gist of the whole post, you can’t shoot someone accidentally, you can shoot the wrong person, but if you’re a gun owner who sees your weapon as something for defence, you plan on shooting people.

Finally, the answer I gave to people asking what I thought of this incident, “if he didn’t own a gun, it wouldn’t have happened.”


2 thoughts on “You don’t shoot people by accident”

    1. Interesting answer Richard, but it think that this is where the facts of the case come into it.

      From CNN:

      Model Reeva Steenkamp was shot four times through the bathroom door at the home of Olympian Oscar Pistorius, a South African official familiar with the case told CNN on Monday.

      You don’t stab some through a door with a kitchen knife, or beat them with a cricket bat through a door. Any non-projectile weapon would put people in far closer proximity, and thus would probably take the uncertainty of who the “intruder” was out of the equation.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s