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Firearms expert highlights Pistorius’ love of guns

  • South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock on day eleven of his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on March 17, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/POOL/ DANIEL BORN)

PRETORIA: Months before he killed his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius said he drew his gun and went into “combat mode” after thinking he heard the noise of an intruder at his home, which turned out to be a washing machine, a South African guns expert testified Monday at the athlete’s murder trial.

Sean Rens also said Pistorius wanted to buy seven more guns in 2012 – to add to the 9 mm pistol he already owned for self-defense – and asked the firearm trainer to procure them for him under a gun collector’s permit.

The guns included a semi-automatic assault rifle, three shotguns, another self-loading rifle and two Smith & Wesson handguns. Rens, the manager of the International Firearm Training Academy in Walkerville, south of Johannesburg, produced one invoice that included five of the guns and nearly 600 hundred rounds of ammunition made out in Pistorius’ name.

That total price came to nearly $5,000, and Pistorius had already paid around $4,500 of the bill, the invoice showed. The order was canceled after Pistorius shot dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in early 2013, Rens said. The remaining two guns were contained on a second invoice, the firearm dealer said.

Rens also said he had many conversations about firearms with Pistorius, who is accused of murder in Steenkamp’s shooting death on Valentine’s Day last year. Rens said the double-amputee runner had “a great love and enthusiasm” for guns.

Rens met Pistorius in 2012, he testified, and trained with him at a gun range. In one conversation, Pistorius described how he was startled by a noise at home and decided to clear the house by drawing his gun and checking rooms, according to Rens.

“He went into what we call ‘code red’ or combat mode,” Rens said.

“When he came to the source of the noise, it was the laundry or something,” he added

Pistorius tweeted about the incident in November 2012: “Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking its an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry!”

Pistorius said he killed Steenkamp by accident before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013, shooting her through a bathroom door after mistaking her for an intruder in his home. Prosecutors say he killed her intentionally after an argument and also questioned Rens on Pistorius’ firearm training.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Rens to describe how Pistorius was quizzed on how to handle a firearm in various scenarios, for example when two unidentified men approach the house of a gun owner; then when they break into the house, begin to steal belongings and order the gun owner to leave; and if the men threaten to kill the gun owner, who is behind a security gate in the house.

In each case, Rens said, Pistorius was asked if it was OK to fire at the men and Pistorius correctly answered “No.” Pistorius correctly said he was only entitled to shoot at them if they advanced on him with a gun, according to Rens.

Nel was trying to show that Pistorius flouted the regulations that he knew well when he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius says he fired because he thought he was under threat.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 18, 2014, on page 10.
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Summary

Firearms expert highlights Pistorius' love of guns

Months before he killed his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius said he drew his gun and went into "combat mode" after thinking he heard the noise of an intruder at his home, which turned out to be a washing machine, a South African guns expert testified Monday at the athlete's murder trial.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Rens to describe how Pistorius was quizzed on how to handle a firearm in various scenarios, for example when two unidentified men approach the house of a gun owner; then when they break into the house, begin to steal belongings and order the gun owner to leave; and if the men threaten to kill the gun owner, who is behind a security gate in the house.


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