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Guns in the Hands of Security Guards: Vital or Detrimental?

If You were in charge of Security for a venue, perhaps for an exciting event, what would be your first order of business to ensure both the site and its people are safe? For many, the first thing that pops into their head would be to hire armed guards. Big, Intimidating security guards carrying guns around? Of course that would make your venue safer! In a perfect world that is. In reality, arming Security Guards with guns very often has more cons than pros.

The main reason our reality is so very cruel compared to the idyllic universe I just described comes down to a single fact: Criminals Want Guns!

In South Africa alone there are countless instances of armed guards being threatened, shot and killed, not just for the resources they’re protecting, but also for the very tools they use to defend said resources.

In September 2023, 2 Security Guards were murdered in Philippi East, Cape Flats while helping with a waste collection job. As the nature of the job involved collecting and dropping off waste, there were no valuables worth stealing, except for their weapons. Yes, after the 2 men’s deaths, both of them had their firearms stolen, presumably to cause others harm and fear down the line. If the guards had just been armed with batons and tasers, there would be much less incentive to steal from them as again, all they were doing was assisting in a waste collection project.

Another thing to consider is arming guards with guns on a site attracts a different type of criminal, one that comes into a robbery expecting a gunfight. Pair this with the fact that many security guards do not receive proper/full firearm training and you have a recipe for a site that’s unsafe for everyone, civilians included. These types of criminals also get more “practice” actually shooting people, while security guards are only supposed to shoot people in defence, not to mention many of these criminals being ex-military.

The biggest advantage criminals have over security is the element of surprise, such as a case in Soweto in which 2 Security Guards were sitting in a parked car, the day moving slowly as they often do during patrol jobs, one of them even reading a book when they were suddenly gunned down on both sides and looted for their service weapons. Even the Head of Security, Geoff Schapiro said, “ We believe the motivation for the attack was to disarm and steal the officers’ firearms”. If that doesn’t convince you criminals are out for fresh guns, I don’t know what will.

Of course, sometimes armed guards are necessary, such as CIT or Cash-in-Transit jobs. Even with the use of armoured trucks guards need to be armed with guns in the highly probable event of a robbery. Even with guns, South African CIT guards seem to be consistently failing in gunfights with robbers. Between January and August of this year alone there have been 217 CIT robberies. 

One of these robberies took place in Khayelitsha, In which 2 guards, one of them carrying a 12 gauge shotgun and the other a revolver, were rushed by 6 robbers and disarmed, the 2 guards lived but a third man who was unloading boxes of money into an armoured truck was tragically killed.

The CIT Association of SA has improved their firearm training in recent years, but they obviously haven’t improved the firearm training enough as the number of CIT robberies has increased by 14% compared to the same time frame in 2022. This issue is less about the guns themselves and more about the training needed to wield said guns, which is vital to the task of keeping Security Guards safe.

What we have hoped to achieve in writing this blog is to clear up the misconception that installing armed guards instantly makes a place safer, as too often it does the exact opposite. 

Written by Tyler D’Aquino

Featured image – Adobe stock images


EncA Interview about a Security Guard being killed for his weapon in Soweto:

More info on Soweto killing: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-10-15-heartless-criminals-behind-killing-of-security-guards-in-parked-car-in-soweto/

Site that lists the BENEFITS of arming security Guards at SCHOOLS, so many reasons this is a bad idea. https://vigilanttiger.com/blog/benefits-of-armed-security-guards-for-schools/

Another incident of 2 security guards being shot and their weapons being stolen: https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/two-security-guards-shot-dead-in-cape-town-during-waste-collection-run-20230915

Promising blog about armed guards increasing school shootings, cant use directly because of country and situational differences, but can use their logic: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2021/02/16/research-finds-armed-officers-increases-mortality-at-school-shootings