The Independent on Sunday reports that the Republic of South Africa has banned guns from its football (soccer) matches for the duration of the forthcoming World Cup. “For the first time in the country’s history, personal firearms will be banned from stadiums during the tournament. But, when the contest finishes on 11 July, guns will once again be allowed in all public places.” Detect a hint of disappointment there? “Every year in South Africa, some 10,000 people are killed with guns. Those who have fallen victim to the country’s lax gun laws are disappointed that measures to take guns off the streets will be only temporary.” Guns don’t kill people. Lax gun laws kill people. In fact, South Africa’s gun laws aren’t lax at all—their enforcement is. And it’s what you might call selective. Virtually no new firearms licenses have been granted under the Firearms Control Act B34-200— which legalizes the confiscation of unlicensed guns. Of which there are at least 500k. And growing, as legal owners can’t register their weapons (more than 650,00 unprocessed applications). With the World Cup in town, the tide continues to turn against RSA’s legal gun owners, at least on the PR and U.N. fronts . . .
Now, players including the Manchester City and Argentina striker Carlos Tevez and the Ivory Coast’s Sol Bamba are backing a campaign led by the International Action Network on Small Arms (Iansa) to extend the gun ban beyond the World Cup.
As part of the campaign, the British fashion designer Katharine Hamnett has designed a T-shirt carrying the slogan “Don’t Shoot: Gun-Free World Cup” – which The IoS is giving away to 10 competition winners this week.
“Guns have no place in sport, or in society,” Tevez said. “And if it’s possible to have a gun-free World Cup, why stop there? When I was growing up in Buenos Aires, I often heard gunshots at night, and I had to choose between following my dream, football, or falling into a life of crime. Hopefully, the World Cup will inspire kids in South Africa in the same way.”
Not a lot of balance in this piece. So we turn to A Critical Analysis of Firearm Control in Post-Apartheid South Africa, a senior dissertation by Sheila Coxford, professor at The University of Cape Town.
An examination of the evidence from Southern Africa and abroad indicates that the alleged positive correlation between the prevalence of civilian gun ownership and the incidence of violent crime has yet to be empirically demonstrated. It appears that international comparison yields no such evidence and certain studies, in fact, find a negative correlation between high levels of civilian gun ownership and violent crime.
The lack of reliable evidence that consistently demonstrates the alleged positive relationship between high levels of legal civilian gun ownership and levels of violent crime, does not rule out the possibility that such a relationship exists. Also, that certain studies from America have indicated the exact opposite, does not imply that this is necessarily the case elsewhere in the world.
As this dissertation has demonstrated, there are a myriad of factors that impinge on the relationship between civilian firearms and violent crime, assuming such a relationship exists. What is fairly certain is that, despite assertions to the contrary, the relationship between levels of civilian firearm ownership and violent crime is neither simple nor direct.