Prof. Sebastian van As and the Gun Control Lie

Regarding the article in the Cape Argus “The war raging against our kids”, I find the subsequent calls by Prof. Sebastian van As for stricter gun control in light of the tragic deaths of several children at the hands of gangsters and criminals illogical and unreasonable. Professor van As is a board member of Gun Free South Africa and his statements should be seen as those of an anti-gun ownership activist rather than a respected academic and doctor. It is disingenuous that he would use his position at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital to this end and make unsubstantiated claims that expanded gun control in South Africa would stem the violence currently perpetrated against its citizens, regardless of their ages or backgrounds.

According to Prof. van As, “…research shows that the Firearms Control Act of 2004 helped to bring down gunshot injuries to children by a significant amount – but in recent years the number of children shot has crept up to unacceptable levels.” So if the FCA of 2000 has been a success, how then does he explain the upsurge? The criminals who are responsible for the shooting of these children did not acquire their firearms legally. They did not complete the required firearms competency course and did not purchase their firearms from registered dealers. Clearly gun control has not affected their ability to gain access to illegal firearms and ammunition, considering that corrupt elements within the SAPS and armed forces are a ready supply. The abject failure of the Firearms Control Act is also evident in the increasing levels of violent crime we have been experiencing: for the year 2011/12 to 2012/13 incidents of murder increased by 4,2%, attempted murder by 10,1%, and house robberies by 7,1%.

Gun control is obviously not the solution. Gangsters and criminals live beyond the boundaries of the law, and stricter gun control will only serve to make their potential victims completely defenceless. Gun sales are completely banned in the City of Chicago, Illinois, and handgun ownership is so restricted as to fall under a de facto ban. Yet, despite having among the strictest gun control policies in the United States violent crime is rampant in Chicago, and it was recently named the “Murder Capital of America”. Politicians are wringing hands over the problem, with some calling for even more gun control. A famous quote misattributed to Einstein is quite appropriate in this context, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

Law enforcement and the combating of criminal gangs is a challenging and difficult process. The structural and resource related problems plaguing the South African Police Service is making the task even harder. Considering the prevalence of gang related violence and crime in our country, the socioeconomic problems facing the communities most affected by it, and the near impossible task of containing it, it is cheap politicking from GFSA to suggest that further gun control would make anyone’s children safer. Their organisation is not known for its scruples, considering that the Advertising Standard’s Authority recently pulled their “if your gun was there, so were you” television advertisement from the air due to its misleading nature.

All South Africans have the right to Life, Property, Freedom and Security as stipulated in Chapter Two of our Constitution. Without the means to protect these rights they are but pretty lines written on a piece of paper.

Photo Credit: Richard Upstanding

15 thoughts on “Prof. Sebastian van As and the Gun Control Lie

  1. Professor Van As is an idiot. He does not understand the basics of life. Criminals don’t obey laws. How simply is that! Rather go study at the university of life, there you are exposed to more than one subject.
    P.S. I don’t own a gun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The research of van As was refuted and debunked by Peter Hammond of UCA.

    Nevertheless, a Dr. Van As of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital was quoted in the Cape Argus (17/8/00) as calling for “tougher gun laws.” He related various heart rending stories of children wounded and even crippled in gang crossfire. However, upon investigation, I found that only 4 patients a month at Red Cross Hospital were gun shot victims, and almost all of those were from illegal guns in the hands of gangsters. Some of these patients are actually gang members themselves.

    It does not seem logical to disarm the licensed firearm owners when they are not even the problem. Further research revealed that the vast majority of casualties admitted to the children’s hospital were for falls (2 338 cases in the last year), motor vehicle accidents (1 030), burns (532), assault with blunt or sharp instruments (208), and poisoning (452 in patients and 292 out patients). Even dog bites (91) were more numerous than firearm wounds (50).

    Some people do use firearms for evil purposes, but far more people use firearms for defensive purposes to prevent crimes from being committed.

    Vastly more children die each year in bicycle accidents, car accidents or drownings than from firearms. Children are 1450% more likely to die from a car accident than from a firearm. Should we outlaw all motor vehicles? No, the solution to the horrific carnage on the roads is not to ban motor vehicles, but to improve safety features in vehicles, educate drivers, promote the use of seat belts and severely punish drunken or reckless driving. As with motor vehicles, it would not be right to take away everyone’s freedom because of the criminal activities or carelessness of some.

    Actually, vastly more people die of medical malpractice each year than from firearms. The American Medical Association recognises that 93 000 patients die each year due to medical malpractice by doctors. Another 110 000 patients die from unforeseen reactions to prescribed medicines. We could also add the number of babies killed by doctors through abortion. In the light of the fact that doctors kill more people each year than firearms do, it seems very hypocritical for a medical doctor to blame a cold metal inanimate object – a tool – for the evil that some people do.

    However we recognise that doctors save far more lives than they take – and that is exactly the same for motor vehicles and firearms. Transport carries life-giving food and medicines to those who most need it and patients to hospitals where they will be treated. And every day countless crimes are prevented, hundreds of victims are protected and many tragedies are averted by armed citizens. Armed citizens save lives andparents need to be prepared to protect their children from all threats. It is criminal to interfere with a father’s duty to protect his children.

    Children Injured by Guns

    On another occasion, I was debating two Gun Free South Africa advocates in Cape Town in a public meeting. Dr. Van As, of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, called for tougher gun laws because he was sick and tired of treating children wounded and crippled by gun fire. This was the first time that I had heard this argument, so, in trying to understand the situation, I asked him: “How many of these children are gang members or criminals that were shot by police, or in self defence, by victims of their crimes?” His answer was: “All of them!”

    Later, upon investigation, I found out that only four patients a month at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital were gunshot victims, and almost all of those were from illegal guns in the hands of gangsters, numerous of the patients were actually gang members themselves.

    The Main Causes of Injury to Children

    It does not seem logical to disarm licensed firearm owners when they are not even the problem. But further research revealed that the vast majority of casualties admitted to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital that year were for falls (2,338 cases), motor vehicle accidents (1,030), burns (532), assault with blunt or sharp instruments (208), and poisoning (744). Even dog bites (91) were more numerous than firearm wounds (50) for that year.
    – See more at:


    • Thank you very much for posting this Peter. It is an invaluable resource, and worthy of an article on its own in future.

      Despite his academic qualifications and, one would hope, adherence to medical ethics and professionalism, the good professor does like to cherry pick his statistics and disseminate his supposed evidence in a very unscientific manner. Hardly the behaviour one would expect from a man holding his station.


  3. To add to the mystery. He will be presenting at the parliamentary committee. I have been reading up on his other reports. He claims that cars, fires burns etc. is the leading cause. depending on the flavour of the month research. Intersecting that he and Richard Matzopoulos is GFSA board members!


  4. Let me just say, that here in Germany we have stricter gun laws. We have about 100 gunshot wounds per year with a population of 80 Million people. South Africa had 127,000 gunshot wounds in 2006 with a population of 52 Million people. If 4 injured kids every month in one hospital alone is not “enough” for you to think about a change, there is clearly something wrong with you.


  5. The professor own research shows that more children die from traffic accidents, burns and falls and knives. More children are bitten by dogs than shot. So why does he not call for a ban on dogs as well?


  6. @gunservant85:
    You can find the statistics’ sources yourself – there is this thing called “the internet” – only takes about 3 Minutes :-)…
    (If you need help – pubmed is a reliable source – biggest scientific database in the world provided by the us-gov)
    Seems like your gun laws are still not strict enough then (By the way – if you would carry a gun anywhere in public in germany – no matter if you have a licence or not – people will call the police. Let’s just simplify: ‘Gun moral’ is stricter).

    The permanent presence of guns in daily life is the main problem for kids getting injured – because most of those injuries are accidental. Keep your guns for your own private pleasure if it turns you on, or if you just feel too weak and useless without one – but please store it safely!

    As a fellow surgeon treating kids – dogs are being put to sleep after having bitten someone – are you also destroying your gun, after it has injured someone?

    Of course ‘MORE’ children die of other causes – let me just spell it out for everyone who has never seen a child die before: NO death of ANY child should be the goal of every statistic.
    Seriously, there is something unbelievably wrong with your way of thinking.

    Instead of bashing Prof. van As, who has clearly seen enough of misery to try and change something – be productive! If you don’t like his way to change a common problem for the better – find a solution that works AND suits your needs as gun-lovers.


    • I used my gun to save my friend’s life three months ago. If I hadn’t, he would have been stabbed to death on his own property by a drug addict. South Africa is not Germany.


    • van As lied to the parliamentary portfolio committee during the National Firearms Summit in March. He is not a reputable or reliable source of information, and is nothing more than a biased propagandist with an agenda.


      • @ GN. Thank you for your comments. Yes I agree 1 death is one to much. But why lie to Parliament? If my telling the truth is seen as bashing, then so be it. I used the professors own research to expose his lies to Parliament. Why did he need to lie?


  7. I don’t see any productive comments here anymore.
    Admitting to having shot someone might sound heroic to you – I am just sad about it. I know that South Africa is not Germany – but – look where Germany has been 80 years ago.
    Change is possible. I agree that it is necessary to use the right methods for that change.
    So, AGAIN: come up with your OWN plan to make your country a more pleasent and safe place. Pointing out what others did wrong doesn’t help anyone.


    • Dear GN. Yes we are working on positive items as well. I am not sure of you are following events closely here in SA? Speaking for myself, I also follow what is happening in other parts of the world. Not just shooting bombing but other events that are shaping the world that we live in.

      Like it or not, what happens in one part of the world has an impact on another. Refer to people arriving by the boat load full.

      I follow events in Germany as well and watched the berlin wall come down. Not sure how old you are, but I gave my age away.

      Constructive results can only come when we address the real cause of violence. Irrespective if that was by means of a stick, stone, axe knife or hammer.

      Do you agree, that with rights (whatever they may be) also come responsibilities?

      I hope that you will see the above as something constructive positive?



  8. I agree!
    Seeing a disease as a metaphor for violence – it is always best to treat the cause directly. But sadly enough – as with diseases, treating the real cause can be far out of reach. So measurements to ease the symptoms are necessary.

    Don’t deny the cancer patent pain medication just because there is no cure for his disease yet.

    Thank you for beginning a productive dialog @Ludwig!


    • @ GN. Always willing to discuss constructive and logically.
      1) We need to agree what is the disease.
      2) Then agree what works and what does not work.

      Analogy. A patient arrives at hospital due to car accident. Full of cuts bleeding profusely.

      Do we first ask his medical aid insurance details or treat him first?
      (No medical aid might mean no or little treatment)

      Fist ask patient (assuming they can reply) if his religion allows him to have blood transfusion.

      The patient may have insurance but his religion denies basic medicine.
      So patient gets some sugar water and prayers to help.

      Now we need to decide what is the real facts and causes of deaths in SA.

      My ancestry is German, hence my name and surname, and I love the German trait of paying close (very close) attention to detail.

      Below is the link to the stats used by GFSA. Detailed review of the research papers revealed many serious concerns. Hence reasons to objections raised by me and many others in this regard. Have a look and see if the famous German paying attention to details reveals some errors. See how many errors you can spot in the NIMSS 2003 research paper?

      See if you can find chapters 2 3 and executive summaries of NIMSS 2003 report as well. See how easy it is to read and find data on the reports. You need to compare summaries, details in chapter 1 and tables and graphs to others details in the same report in chapter 2, 3 etc.

      Short cut available. Or you can accept my findings?
      My comments are based on many months reviewing GFSA research.

      Kind regards


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