2007-07-26 : Over half of firearms illegal

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2007-07-26 : Over half of firearms illegal

Postby GOSA » Mon, 2007-08-06 17:08


Over half of firearms illegal
Guns feature prominently in domestic violence - poll

July 26, 2007 Edition 2
Aziz Hartley

FIREARMS are used in a third of domestic violence incidents in the
province, research by the University of the Western Cape's Community Law
Centre has found.

Although not scientific, the study, "Does he have a gun?", provided a
reasonable reflection of the extent to which firearms were used in domestic
disputes, Helene Combrinck, the centre's gender project co-ordinator, said

Police statistics did not specify whether assaults and attempted murders
were committed using firearms, hospitals did not record injuries as being
related to domestic violence, and there was no register of all protection
orders sought.

But the research, involving urban and rural NGOs and community groups
supporting victims of domestic violence, found a firearm featured in three
in 10 incidents.

"In many domestic violence cases, there are other kinds of threats
involving firearms," said Combrinck.

"These are invisible threats, such as intimidation because of the mere
presence of a firearm. A woman feels threatened because she knows there is
a gun in the house."

A Medical Research Council study had found that 40% of all women murdered
in domestic violence in 1999 had been shot dead, Combrinck said.

The findings, presented at a Gun Free SA (GFSA) meeting in Athlone
yesterday, highlighted such issues as how often and in what ways firearms
were used in domestic violence.

Findings showed an almost even split - 12:13 - in the use of legal and
illegal guns. Obstacles victims faced to removing firearms included threats
from the aggressors, the gun was not the perpertrator's, and the
unhelpfulness of police.

It was also found that domestic violence was most problematic among gang
members, police and security industry staff, and alcohol or substance
abusers, followed by clerics and professional people.

GFSA advisory committee member Margy Keegan said: "This research is
important if we are to understand the impact of guns in domestic violence.
A lot of invisible violence happens in homes.

"We need to find out a lot more so correct policies can be created to help
address the problem of domestic violence."
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