Applications for gun licenses and firearms proficiency have significantly increased among women in this country, according to firearm associations and dealers. The number of women purchasing firearms from her Randburg, Johannesburg-based business, Kalahari Arms, has tripled in recent years, according to owner Bianca Bell.
“There has been an astronomical increase in sales to women of colour,” she notes. The organizer of the Girls on Fire campaign Lynette Oxley claims that women are not merely learning how to use firearms for self-empowerment but also to compete in historically male-dominated sporting shooting competitions. She claims that because of the campaign, women from all backgrounds have attended competency training sessions in an effort to obtain a firearm.
The South African Gunowners’ Association’s chair, Damian Enslin, claims that when high crime numbers are reported, a spike in applications for firearm licenses and competencies is observed. The fact that more women are purchasing firearms lately is significant.
During its presentation before a parliamentary portfolio committee in August 2021, the South African Police Service (SAPS) revealed a rise in applications for firearms. According to the Central Firearms Register (CFR), 107 000 applications were made in 2019–20, whereas 143 000 new firearm licenses were recorded in 2020–21.
According to the CFR, 188 296 competency certifications were handled throughout the 2020–21 term. Oxley notes that many of the women who signed up for the Girls on Fire campaign revealed having experienced gender-based abuse and abusive relationships in the past. She continues, “Most women want to own a self-defense weapon because it empowers them and transforms how they feel about themselves.
Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, remarked that the first quarter of 2022 was particularly severe for women and children when speaking about the release of the most recent crime statistics on June 3.“Murder attempted murder, and assault GBH [grievous bodily harm] all recorded double-digit increases. Murder and assault GBH of children under the age of 17 years, also recorded sharp increases. However, the number of attempted murder cases of children has declined by 6.8%, Out of 6 083 people killed in the country, 898 of them were women and 306 were children under the age of 17 years.” he said.
Access to a firearm is a significant risk factor for intimate femicide, according to research. Nechama Brodie reports that more than 80% of femicide victims who were assaulted by their partner were women in her book Femicide in South Africa. Nechama says “Majority of women are killed by a firearm injury, mostly from a single gunshot to the head or face … In three-quarters of these cases, the perpetrator is a legal firearm owner using a licensed weapon.”
Results of research evaluating the effect of the Firearms Control Act on firearm homicide in five of South Africa’s largest cities show that between 2001 and 2005, the law’s implementation prevented the deaths of 4,585 individuals. This is why the government’s review of the law, which is currently underway, is crucial because it aims to further limit the public’s access to firearms. Such an action can supplement the current efforts to reduce gender-based violence in the nation. The Gender-Based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan was endorsed by the government two years ago, and a website called Femicide Watch was established.
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