Season’s Shootings

07 December 2017
Author 

As the peak silliness of the silly season approaches, defensive firearm owners may feel a slightly heightened level of anxiety.

The reason for this is that they will expect more in the way of business robberies (particularly in malls) and cash-in-transit robberies, along with all of the other ‘lesser’ crimes that thrive during a season where there’s increased commercial exchange and larger crowd sizes for easy pickings, along with different residential property dynamics – such as more unknown faces being around certain neighbourhoods and the realistic expectation by criminals that lots of houses will be vacant. All in all, it is a fertile time for lethal encounters with criminals.

While it may be fair to have specific safety concerns about this time of year, before we go any further it must be emphasised that the potential for attack on yourself or loved ones exists throughout the year, and indeed in any location around the world. ‘One in a thousand’ statistics will offer very little comfort to the victim who is the one in a thousand. Be aware of this and focus on daily reinforcement along the lines of healthy, empowering awareness – and not crippling fear.

With that important caveat out of the way, let’s address a concern that’s raised more by those against firearms than those for, around this time of year – namely the idea that a defensive use of a firearm in a crowded space may create a more dangerous situation than originally occurred. When firearm owners in the Western Cape protested a local mall’s clamping down on legal carriers using their facilities during a spate of mall robberies, this was raised repeatedly as an excuse by the mall’s management.

To use this as an excuse for discriminating against legal firearm carriers is of course pretty much the same as saying that if somebody driving a vehicle sees another vehicle flying towards them, they can’t swerve to avoid it because there’s a risk they may lose control over the vehicle or hit somebody else. Yes, it’s a concern, but not one that overrides the right to react to save your life. And just as the average person with a sense of self-preservation isn’t going to swerve their car suddenly in traffic for the hell of it, neither is the equivalent firearm carrier going to immerse themselves in a firefight for the hell of it.

Knowing that their right to protect themselves is not reasonably overridden by the possibility of accidents doesn’t mean firearm owners don’t want to take steps to minimise the chance of accidents however. Ways of preventing and minimising harm are constantly discussed and improved upon, and indeed form a major part of firearm competency testing in South Africa.

Let’s have a quick refresher on the main points to consider:

  • Only shoot when there is no other reasonable way of resolving the situation, and grievous bodily harm or death are reasonably considered imminent. Robbers running away through a crowded mall can be left to do so unless you are the one tasked with apprehending them, in which case entirely different dynamics apply that you should seek out and study. Citizen’s arrest is a possibility, but a complex and risky one.
  • Know what’s behind your target. In this regard, proponents of hollow point ammunition might feel safer. Truly, the added safety that hollow points may offer by stopping inside your target is a marginal added benefit. A luxurious extra that while worth taking advantage of, should not be relied upon. Hollow points don’t magically make it a good idea to shoot when the space behind your target is not clear. You can miss a moving target, and the finest defensive ammunition in the world isn’t going to help you there.
  • Expect outliers. Robbers, especially of the organised kind that carry out large business robberies, often utilise spotters outside of the main field of view during a robbery. Some have even been known to sit down as ‘patrons’ in restaurants. Keep scanning (regardless of whether you’ve engaged with them or not).
  • Don’t underestimate the usefulness of simply providing accurate witness details after the event, or contacting the relevant emergency services with clear information as soon as it’s safely possible to do so.
  • Be as concerned about ways of administering first aid as you as you are with ways of shooting. Get the medical training and equipment (IFAK) you need. This will arguably come into play a lot more often than the need to shoot. Both are vital for saving lives.
  • Carrying a firearm for self-defence does not put the weight of saving the world on your shoulders. It simply gives you another tool with which to help protect yourself or anybody else if it’s reasonably possible.


  • By: Bernard Allen

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