Lawlessness in South Africa an epidemic
Oscar Pistorius has claimed in a court hearing that when he heard noises in his home, he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder and accidentally shot her with his 9 mm pistol.This is an example of how restrictive gun laws breed more crime. I have watched a few shows on HGTV's House Hunters International where people are either leaving South Africa because of the violence are they are looking for a home there that will have security measures. Many of the homes look like a combination of fortresses or prisons. It is not some place I would chose to live at this point despite some of the natural beauty of the country. I think Pistorius's story is credible and tragic.
Plausible? The courts will decide. In the meantime, the killing has highlighted South Africa's history of gun violence and high crime. And it's shown the world that many South Africans live with a palpable, almost paranoid, fear of having their homes broken into.
In the past year, more than 50% of South Africans told the country's police force that they're afraid. The number of home burglaries across the country of 50 million have more than doubled. They totaled 9,063 in a 12-month period spanning 2002/2003; seven years later, it was up 18,786. And in a similar period ending in 2012, reported break-ins dipped to 16,766, according to South Africa's crime reporting body, the Institute for Security Studies.
The international group Gunpolicy.org reports that there are about 6 million licensed firearms in South Africa.
"The paranoia about being a victim of a house robbery is understandable," said the group's small arms researcher Lauren Tracey. "Victims are relatively helpless against these attacks."
It's common to see armed guards patrolling gated, middle-class neighborhoods.
Hiring a private security firm is not the exception but the norm. Workaday people install panic buttons, closed-circuit televisions, man trap doors, boom gates and outdoor point-to-point infrared motion-sensing beams on their houses.
Also unique to South Africa: When burglars break in, they likely aren't after a flat-screen television or jewelry, experts say. They want the homeowner's guns.
That's in part because it's very hard to acquire a gun legally in South Africa, but it remains, many say, relatively easy to get a gun illegally.
There are about 2,000 guns stolen from legal gun owners in South Africa every month, according to Gun Free South Africa.
Between April 2005 and March 2011, more than 18,000 police firearms were reportedly stolen or lost. Guns have gone missingfrom police stations.
There's also a severe backlog in gun license applications, some of which date back several years. A task force has been appointed to look into the problem, Taylor said.