BANG! BANG! By Trevor Plumbly
If we can learn anything from the Americans it’s that the love they have for guns has provided them with the capacity to engage in mass killings on a regular basis. Scarcely a month goes by without reports of another crazed rampage. Most of these are followed by a bit of presidential hand wringing on one side and mutterings of ‘constitutional rights’ on the other. One almost comic report showed a female member of the NRA proclaiming that, ‘We need more guns to combat the gun problem.’ Maybe somebody could explain to this latter day Annie Oakley that using guns to solve a gun problem is a bit like fornicating for chastity. This ‘constitutional right’ obviously made sense when they had the natives and the British to contend with, but now it seems firearms are necessary to protect them from each other. Statistically the ratio of crazies is quite low, but if you add the ease of firearm access, especially to automatic and rapid fire weapons to the equation you’d think somebody could do a bit more than the current, populist tap dancing.
Home is the hunter
Fortunately killing sprees are rare in NZ, more common down here is the ‘hunting accident.’ Last year a young schoolteacher on a camping trip was killed after being mistakenly identified as a deer by a night shooting party. Recently an 11 year old boy was shot by accident by a member of his own hunting group. I fail to find any form of logic in this annual shootout, they can’t possibly need the food, and to describe blasting away at relatively defenceless animals with a high powered rifle as ‘sport’ is nothing short of laughable. ‘Sport’ implies a contest, a trial of endurance and skill between evenly matched opponents. All in all there’s something slightly sad about this annual pilgrimage of trigger happy crusaders blasting away in an effort to reduce the accumulation of testosterone.
I’ve never been a gun fan. There’s an unpleasant finality attached to the things. I accept that farmers need them, but find it hard to argue why anyone else would want to own, or collect potentially lethal weapons. Those that do should be required by law to render them unfireable, that way possession of a functional firearm would be a punishable offence and help to deter any increase in casual access. The importing of air powered replicas should be banned altogether. Any criminal offence involving a firearm should carry a minimum sentence of at least five years.
Firearm abuse has grown in recent years mainly because it’s been regarded as statistically minor, in the light of that, the introduction of strict, enforceable gun control laws would be relatively simple at this early stage in the problem. For years now we’ve trumpeted ‘clean and green’ along with ‘nuclear free’, if we had the political courage to add ‘gun free’, wouldn’t that be something to crow about?