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By Amanda Watson

News Editor

SA women are arming themselves

'You don’t need to be strong or young, all women can defend themselves,' organisers say.

It drizzled, then it rained, then the midday heat and sunshine tried to sap everyone’s energy, but the women taking part in Gun Owners South Africa’s event, Girls on Fire, refused to let the weather dampen their spirits on Saturday.

“Of 130 ladies, only three didn’t pitch today, so it’s absolutely amazing. We had a couple of extras who took their place, in any case,” said Lynette Oxley.

This year’s theme for Girls on Fire was ‘We are every woman’, said Oxley.

“You don’t need to be strong or young, all women can actually defend themselves.”

And for the very young to the quite senior women, novices who had never handles a firearm to pro shooters who could make one hole with three bullets, there was a wide range of firearms from pistols, semi-automatic plinkers and bolt action .22 calibre rifles, to the big boy of the shoot, a Truvelo .50 calibre rifle.

Training was an essential part of owning a firearm, Oxley said.

“Historically, handguns are not the easiest to shoot, rifles are much easier. At least go and shoot once a month, join a club, so you know how to clear stoppages and what your capabilities are,” Oxley said.

“The situation in South Africa is changing so much, we have a lot more women joining us wanting to defend themselves.

Oxley spoke of a group of 32 women who had joined Gosa in the Western Province en masse.

“They’ve all passed their competency tests and are becoming responsible firearm owners. They are all farmers and they fear for their lives,” said Oxley.

With Police Minister Bheki Cele recently admitting he would prefer no firearms in private citizens hands and drawing up a draft bill to exclude self-defence as a reason for owning a firearm, owning one legally could be a problem if he has his way.

There is currently a Gosa interdict preventing the police from taking away firearms of which the licence has expired.

To this end, Gosa chairman Paul Oxley said the organisation was planning a series of marches around the country leading up to the national firearm summit to be held at Parliament later this year.

“We can’t just sit idly by, this is too important,” Paul said.

“We have a national police commissioner who admits in Parliament the police are unable to fulfil their constitutional mandate to protect South Africa.

“What’s going to happen if the police can’t protect us, and the people can’t protect themselves? The police are going after the licenced firearms, there’s no plan to go after the unlicenced firearms.”

Paul noted it was the police in 2016 which disabled the ability to renew firearm licences.

“The police will eventually arrive when the crime is big enough to draw chalk outlines around the body. Who’s going to help us in the third most homicidal nation on earth?”

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