South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. This incident has begun to spark debate about gun ownership in a country where estimates show that there are 12 firearms for every 100 citizens, 6 million guns overall. The gun laws in South Africa stipulate that potential owners undergo a competency test and a background check. As it stands there are few facts as to why Pistorius allegedly shot his girlfriend in the head and arm in his home in Pretoria this morning. Police have disputed early morning reports by Afrikaans publication Beeld that claimed that the athlete attacked Steenkamp because he had mistaken her for an intruder in his house. Pistorius is currently in police custody.
On the same day that President Jacob Zuma is set to deliver his State of The Nation Address, the shooting has dominated news in South Africa with some callers on the popular talk radio station CapeTalk, saying that this is just another example why people should not keep guns in their homes.
In a country with such high rates of violence, particularly against women, this debate is bound to gather steam as the facts of the morning’s deadly incident become clearer. One report has referred to Pistorius’s “affinity for guns” and the Independent Online referenced the star athlete’s interview last year with the New York Times where he spoke about his 9mm handgun and took the reporter to the shooting range.
The independent broadcast channel MNet, which airs the Academy Awards to its subscribers, is pulling its billboard that features Pistorius in Rovonia, Johannesburg. “Out of respect and sympathy to the bereaved, M-Net will be pulling its entire Oscars live coverage campaign featuring Oscar Pistorius with immediate effect,” M-Net’s Head of Communications Lani Lombard is quoted as saying.