On 25 July 1993 Charl Van Wyk was sitting in church, minding his own business, when armed bad guys entered the building and started shooting automatic rifles and throwing grenades. This happened in Cape Town, South Africa where, luckily, it was legal for licensed citizens to carry concealed weapons. Charl had one in his pocket.
Although most of us probably think of Africa, all of it, as worse than the wild west, most of the country is pretty much civilized. But then, there are bad guys everywhere, and Charl, who had had some military training, didn’t intend to be a victim if he could help it.
Cape Town was probably less violent than Washington, D.C., but it wasn’t exactly day care, either. Other areas of Africa had lately seen similar attacks, such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Sudan, and Angola. A favorite MO of terrorists was to catch a bunch of folks in church and kill them. All of them.
But because Charl was at St. James Church in Cape Town, with a pistol in his pocket, only 11 people were killed, and 53 wounded. There were about 1,400 people in the building at the time. The terrorists probably planned to kill them all, or as many as they could. They probably didn’t plan for one of their victims to pull out a small .38 and start shooting back.
Charl’s selfless bravery saved a lot of people, but it also brought him a bushel of criticism. In the weeks after the attack, which became known as the St. James Massacre, Charl was blasted for taking a gun to church. This seems strange, considering the events that brought the gun to light were irrefutable proof that it was necessary. But then, people in Africa are probably not any smarter than some in America.
After the fight, Charl examined his motives and beliefs carefully, and decided he had done the right thing. His reasoning, and his first hand account of the attack, are explained in detail in his book, ‘Shooting Back – The Right and Duty of Self-Defense.’
I find myself wondering what would have happened at St. James Church in Cape Town that day if South Africa had had its own version of Handgun Control, Inc. Incidentally, HCI got its start because of another shooting, one that got a lot more press in the U.S. than the St. James Massacre.
On 30 March 1981, President Ronald Reagan was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. when John Hinkley, Jr. started shooting at him with a .22 revolver. The president and three others were wounded. It might be relevant to point out that handguns had been outlawed in D.C. for several years when this incident occurred. For some reason, the president still got shot.
Another fellow who took a bullet that day was White House Press Secretary James Brady, who has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. His wife, Sarah Brady, started HCI shortly thereafter. This seems somewhat ridiculous, since the fact that James Brady was shot with a handgun in a city where handguns were outlawed proved that any legislation HCI could help to enact would be ineffective. But making guns illegal was not Sarah Brady’s goal. Her goal was making them unaffordable.
In his book, ‘From My Cold Dead Fingers,’ Sheriff Richard Mack published a document leaked from the files of HCI. The document was marked ‘Not For Distribution’ to try to keep the public from learning what HCI planned. It spells out the goals HCI, and Sarah Brady, hoped to achieve, and it’s no wonder they didn’t want it to get out.
First on the list was a ‘Handgun License Fee.’ Not mentioned is that, in order to charge such a fee, all handguns would necessarily have to be registered. The fee for the first couple of years was to be set at $50 to $75 annually, per handgun. The idea was not to make the cost exorbitant, so people would go along with it. The third year the fee was to be raised to $150 to $250, to ‘reflect the cost of enforcement and discourage new ownership.’ The fifth year, if ‘private ownership has not been prohibited,’ the fee was to be raised to $550 to $625. Per year. Per gun.
Penalties for non-compliance ranged from $1,000 and six months in jail to $15,000 and 18 months in jail.
That was the plan for the federal license. The states would also be encouraged to charge fees and levy fines. The plan included similar annual fees for rifles, shotguns, gun safes, and even ammunition. There was also to be an arsenal fee, required to own more than 20 guns. Bear in mind this could all be implemented legally, without touching the Second Amendment.
Sarah Brady, and plenty of others like her, hates freedom so much she wants to take it away from you. If she succeeds, only the criminals will remain armed. If she succeeds, I wonder how many deaths she will be responsible for . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who gave all his guns away (just in case Sarah Brady reads this). Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org