The Cowardice of Guns

There are significant parallels between the tragic case of Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympian and Paralympian, who shot his girl friend, and the paranoid rants of Wayne LaPierre, the crackpot chairman of the NRA.

Oscar Pistorius lived in a luxury community in the leafy suburbs of Pretoria, South Africa’s capital city. Once the much hailed hero of the London Olympic games, Oscar stole the hearts of the world with his courageous appearance on the track, earning him the name “Blade Runner”. The softly spoken, pleasant young man clearly harbored a dark side that has left his girl friend dead, the young runner incarcerated without bail, and charged with murder.

Pistorius was so concerned with the crime rate in South Africa, that despite living in a gated community, patrolled by armed guards, he saw fit to arm himself with a small arsenal. That arsenal did nothing to keep him, or his girlfriend safe from intruders. It was not intruders that killed his girlfriend, he did the deed himself, no intruders necessary.

This once more shows the extreme dangers inherent in keeping guns in the home. A person that lives in a home in which someone owns guns is nine times more likely to be killed, often with the guns in that home. The chance of being killed by an intruder is quite small, the chance of being killed by multiple armed intruders even smaller.

If one is attacked by armed intruders, the chance of being killed without the chance to use a personal weapon is very high, especially if the owner is carrying the weapon. The case for owning an automatic or semi-automatic weapon is extremely poor. If an owner cannot stop an intruder with a six-bullet magazine, they probably should not own a weapon at all. The idea of owning a machine gun in a home is ludicrous.

I am convinced that living in South Africa can be dangerous. The country has one of the highest crime rates on Earth, including murders and rapes. The fact remains that having a gun in the home is more dangerous than not having one. It is far safer to give an intruder what they want, and present no threat to them, than to take them on, especially if they are armed.

After the terrorist war against SWAPO and Umkonto We Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, large quantities of small arms were left available to members of those armed groups. These weapons have spilled into South Africa, often costing no more than a few hundred Rand a piece. These weapons are being used against civilians in robberies and murders.

Pistorius was neurotic about his personal security, and armed himself accordingly. At one interview, he claimed that he needed his weapons to protect himself against the armed guards in the community, who might be part of a gang of intruders. It certainly sounds as though he was a victim of conspiratorial thinking, with enemies everywhere, and people trying to do him in.

That is the problem with fear, that it breeds more fear, and eventually descends into paranoid delusion, with sometimes fatal consequences. When people start to see danger everywhere, at some point everyone becomes the enemy, everyone is out to do harm to us, and that attitude is not healthy.

Regardless of where we live, at some point, we will be in danger. South Africa is certainly a dangerous society, but if one takes common sense precautions, one is less likely to be harmed. Personal weapons just increase the risks of harm.

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association is similarly sliding over the line into the surreal world of black helicopters and wild-eyed federal agents coming to take away our guns. His grasp on reality has become tenuous at best, increasingly stridently militant and anarchic.

In a recent op-ed in the DailyCaller, LaPierre laid out his fanciful ideology. He started by claiming that “all over the United States, millions of people are preparing to Stand and Fight to protect their families and homes”. The implication is that he and his followers are ready to engage the federal authorities in combat.These people are getting ready to protect themselves”. From what?

The Black Helicopter Brigade appears ready to do battle against the Evil Empire. It makes me wonder whether I have landed in some alternate reality where Gandalf the Grey does battle with the Scions of Mordor.

It is worrying that the extremists on the right are becoming increasingly strident and disjointed in their accusations against the Obama administration. It is worrying, since countries have split apart for less. The proximate cause of Yugoslavia splitting was the assumption of the revolving presidency by the candidate from Bosnia, which precipitated a war resulting in the breakup of that country.

According to LaPierre, people should arm themselves against “violent criminals who prey on decent people”. He continued to say that Latin American drug gangs are invading our cities, along with criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping”.

I clearly live in a different United States to this man. He must live in a walled city patrolled by armed guards and attack dogs under continual invasion by Los Mexicanos who drag his sons and daughter away in the dead of night, demanding ransom and shoving drugs down their throats. Either that, or he is watching too many late night movies and cannot tell the difference between those and reality.

He does not stop there, weaving a fantasy America under continual attack by the forces of darkness, which according to him include terrorists that have crossed the border from Mexico, ready to launch their next attack against the homeland. Hollywood does not write junk like this. Even they have their standards. Unless by “they” we mean Bruce Willis, who continues to produce this kind of peurile garbage.

LaPierre’s claim is that the next “heinous act of mass terror” will release a tsunami of Gun Control. According to him, this is why people are buying guns in record numbers. The man who heads the most powerful gun lobby in the country shows signs of delusion, if not paranoid psychosis.

He continued to say “After Hurricane Sandy we saw a hellish world…with no food or water.and if you wanted to walk to get supplies you had better get back before dark”. I would love to know who his sources are, because with all the social media sites, network TV, radio news, newspapers, not a single case of looting or vandalism was reported to my knowledge. The North East was orderly, the National Guard moved in to provide power, power crews repaired electricity cables, soup kitchens opened up to get food to people.

This mans rant continued to talk about hurricanes, riots, tornadoes, terrorists, gangs, lone criminals, and arming yourself and your family before it is too late. Perhaps the Apocalypse arrived while I was watching TV and I really did not notice, and all those people on social media were too absorbed to pay attention to the rampaging hordes outside.

This is world that fear creates, a world in which true believers undergo a psychotic break with reality, a world that invades our own from the land of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and the Terminator. Their world is filled with danger, violent criminals, drug gangs and illegal immigrants stealing jobs. To them, dangers lurk behind every corner, under every bed, and if you go outside, there is the risk of the sky falling.

South Africa under the dreaded system of apartheid had a similar culture of fear goblins. We were informed that we should be afraid of the swart gevaar (black danger) from the locals, or the rooi gevaar (Communists). Some of the more ultra conservatives known as the bitter einders (bitter enders) wanted to draw up the laager (circle the wagons) and fight off the barbarians.

This is the similarity between people like Oscar Pistorius and Wayne LaPierre, the fear of everything and everyone, and in Oscar’s case it caused the death of an innocent (as far as we know), young woman. It is a great shame. South Africans, and people around the world were rooting for Pistorius, who had overcome so much, or so it appeared. He was humble, softly spoken and presentable. We all wanted him to succeed. We shall find out his version of what transpired today at some point.

The irony of Oscar Pistorius’ current travails is that he recently made an advert for Nike. The slogan for this advert reads, “I am the bullet in the chamber”. Chilling words indeed for his girlfriend. Perhaps using weapons as a metaphor in an advert is unbecoming, and a violent means of getting a message across.

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