Posted on December 28, 2012

Soft Targets in U.S. Mirror South Africa

Glenn Jakins, Daily Herald, December 27, 2012

Having grown up in South Africa in the 1970s and ‘80s, and serving there in the military as a riot control officer, I have seen my fair share of violence — mostly violence through senseless acts of terrorism by the African National Congress on what are termed “soft targets” within South Africa.

Soft targets are targets that are easy to attack. Generally they were places where there would be little or no defense and where many innocent children and adults would be murdered.

Cowards go for soft targets so they can achieve their sordid goals with little or no resistance.

When I came to the United States more than 20 years ago, I looked forward to a life with more peace in a place where I did not have to carry a firearm everywhere I went (as I and countless other honest people did in South Africa).

As the ANC took power in the mid ‘90s, the government sought to disarm the general population through many strict gun control laws. They were unable to squash the terrible violence that comes when there is little or no self-discipline within the majority of a nation, and so they simply tried to take the guns away to stop the violent crime.

Unfortunately, all the law-abiding citizens complied, but the bad guys did not. And so, from 1994, violent crime in South Africa has steadily increased. People have not turned to the government for protection because the government has not shown signs of competence in this arena. Instead, people have turned to private protection companies and gated communities to take care of each other and keep the bad guys out. They have had to take responsibility for protecting themselves.

South Africa currently rates No. 1 worldwide for gun homicides and No. 1 in assaults, according to the CIA. So things are not getting better despite the government’s efforts to ban private gun ownership. The bad guys now have more soft targets to prey upon.

I have enjoyed, as I had hoped, a wonderful life in the USA. I have lived in a community for more than 20 years where there is much peace. Violent crime is not a big issue here in Provo, Utah.

One thing that I noticed when I arrived in America was that for some unknown reason the people here had set up soft targets for cowards to attack at any moment they desired. I am speaking of the rule where no firearms are permitted on school properties.

This is something I still cannot comprehend and am trying to understand why anyone would want to create a soft target where innocent people cannot be protected. Any fool who wants to do something crazy now knows that he has a guaranteed soft target and can go in anytime to do terrible things.

As a father with children in school I am very uncomfortable with gun-fee zones. I have overlooked their stupidity only because we do not have major problems with gun violence locally.

America has its problems with respect to violent crime, although nowhere near the widespread scale of South Africa. There, the violence arises from terrorism and racial strife, while in America it seems to be gangs and drugs and the occasional mentally ill person committing a random act of murder — always on a soft target.


Historically, Americans have always participated in their own security, but that ethic has faded as more people turn to the government to protect them.

This political split is a dangerous one. Many conservatives embrace the value of personally defending their families, while liberals tend to look to the government for protection that is not likely to come. Police are typically not present when a soft target like a school or movie theater is attacked.

As a society we need to bridge this gap. Politics should not be an issue, only practical solutions that will protect our children and fellow citizens. Liberals need to lose their irrational fear of guns and conservatives need to lose their irrational fear of liberals.