JOHANNESBURG — In his Olympic year, Oscar Pistorius steadily became an avid firearms collector, joining a gun-collecting club and purchasing a collection of firearms that included a .500 Magnum pistol dubbed by its manufacturer as "the most powerful production revolver in the world" and a civilian version of a military assault rifle.
At the end of 2012, in the first blush of his romance with Reeva Steenkamp, the model he later shot and killed, Pistorius got deeper into his hobby. It was known that Pistorius liked guns but only now, from Associated Press interviews with other collectors, is it becoming clear the extent to which he became a dedicated firearms aficionado in the 12 months before he shot Steenkamp.
The track star not only applied for licenses to own more guns, but actually bought them, too, according to John Beare, vice chairman of the Lowveld Firearm Collectors Association, which accepted Pistorius as a paid-up member last April. He and Pistorius were introduced at a Johannesburg hotel in January 2012, and it was there Beare first told the athlete and some of his friends how to become certified collectors.
Had he not become a collector, Pistorius would under South African law have been limited to a maximum of four firearms for self-defense, of which only two could have been handguns, according to Johannesburg attorney Martin Hood.
Carvel Webb, chairman of the National Arms and Ammunition Collectors Confederation of South Africa, an umbrella group for the country's 2,000 approved private collectors including Pistorius, said that in the wake of Steenkamp's killing his group will now verify that Pistorius fulfilled the necessary requirements to be accepted as a collector.