Firearms Safety for private owners in Africa – changing times.

    Hello all.

    Just a few thoughts on safety and careful gun handling in the developing world…

    In this, I am only talking about the emerging group of enlightened NON-MILITARY firearms owners in some parts of Africa. Military/ Police firearms safety, and occasional lack of, is another subject altogether…

    The best firearm safety for non-military gun owners in most of Africa is the remembered welts from a whipping. Don’t get me wrong, I do not support abuse in any form, but most of us grew up in Africa getting a good hiding with belts, cables, flip-flops when we did something wrong or mischievous… This included going to touch one’s father’s gun in his wardrobe. This is so from the villages in the deepest Congo, to the cities in Nigeria or the towns in Kenya…

    So when one learns to be terrified of going to touch one’s father’s gun, you end up almost NEVER picking up the gun to figure out (from all the war movies) how to load it and then possibly blast a hole through the TV, or ceiling, or through some unfortunate soul nearby. We NEVER touched our fathers’ shotguns or rifles if they had them. It was like Kryptonite: when your hand would reach surreptitiously towards the gun, your butt would start to tingle and smart in remembrance of the last flogging you received…

    However, more recently, the spirit has changed, especially with education, enlightenment and the global access to information now changing parents’ orientations and lifestyles. In this generation in a lot of Africa, beatings and floggings are no longer the norm. Care for children is increasing, with more love and teaching and coaching…

    Many firearm owners here (As few as we are…) are now more open to teach their children about firearms, in a proper manner, teaching them to learn how to care for these firearms, identify unsafe situations and finally, how to shoot them, safely and carefully. More and more children are being taught to respect the firearm, follow the safety rules and learn never to put themselves or others in unnecessary danger.

    My example: I have taught my ten year old son from when he was seven that any firearm must be handled with care and respect: and he has really taken the lessons. He knows for example: that “Red is Dead” (When you can see a red dot on the tang safety of the Mossberg 500A, or the Red band around the push-button safety on (for example) the Remington 870, the gun is HOT, and “WILL FIRE…” He knows this deeply now. I have also taught him the rules of safe gun handling… He has fired a gun a few times, but doesn’t think of it as a toy. He respects the firearm, and does not fear it.

    The other day, I caught him having a serious talk with his younger brothers (Aged four, and two… adorable rascals!). It was all about the safe gun handling he had spotted – trigger discipline, muzzle awareness, and tight coordination – while watching the movies, BlackHawk Down, Act of Valor, and  Zero Dark Thirty. I nonchalantly walked past, but my heart swelled with pride!

    When he asks me questions, I remember myself as an eleven year old just entering the Air Force military school in my country, and being trained in how to handle the FN SLR 7.62X51 Rifle. The rifle was taller than I was then! At that time, I could barely cock the rifle, and when out on training with blank rounds (No firing adapter!) and having to cock each round to fire: it was painful! But I learnt! And by the time I left at about sixteen years old, after several thousand rounds of blank ammo fired on assault training, and several hundred rounds of live ammo on 165 and 330 feet ranges, I was reasonably proficient with the FN SLR, the Browning 9mm pistol, and the Sterling 9mm SMG. I also learnt how to strip, clean and assemble especially the FN SLR (I even learnt, by myself, to do this blindfolded…)

    I also had learnt gun handling safety, sometimes the HARD way. I remember being kicked in the hand by an officer when I inadvertently put my finger on the trigger just before a training in flanking assault (That kick was captured on national TV that time! We had a news crew visit on one of our training days…My parents actually saw the kid being kicked in the hand but under my oversized helmet, did not know I was the one!) That kick taught me trigger discipline! To this day!

    We also learnt the hard way about muzzle awareness, and not to point firearms loaded or not, whether on “SAFE” or not, carelessly. It was punishable by a few nights in the “Guard Room” with its trained commando mosquitoes, to “flag” a colleague…

    Things have changed, and  are quite bad now, restrictions are worse, politics has damaged everything, crime is widespread, and nationwide corruption is sky-high. The military schools are a shadow of the good old days, and I would NOT EVER send my sons to them. (These schools now barely do well in academics, and military training is a shadow of the past…) But I can teach them what I know!

    But before I forget:

    I also use a Master Lock Trigger lock, and the keys and spares are ONLY within adult reach (Adults – the wife and I…) and I keep my ammo SEPARATE from the firearm, though I always have a full magazine and a full reload nearby: I have also trained and trained in reloading, reloading in the dark, reloading while lying behind or even UNDER the bed…

    Y-man's Master Lock Trigger Lock

    So, what is my message here? Gradually, the good things are catching up to us in the “Dark Continent”, and it is not all bad stories coming out of here. I and a few others with like minds have set up picnics to work on bonding, and to get the kids interested in tactics and firearms-related activities, even if we are extremely restricted in what is available. We are articulating a request to the government of my country to permit import of some paintball equipment, so we can set up a club for fun family days. We have support already from some senior officials, and we hear another group has already succeeded and has a club already set up.

    Maybe when our club is up, we might have some constructively competitive weekend matches with those guys. You guys will ALL be invited! Welcome to AFRICA!

    Y-man

    Y-man is based in a firearms-restricted environment in West Africa, he is really interested in shotguns [Which is all he can legally get], and he makes the best of whatever he is able to lay his hands on in terms of DIY and improvising.

    He did have some training at an early age attending military school in his country, including some weapon training…

    He always appreciates all your advice, comments and feedback.


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