Guns Kill

In the midst of a weekend of death in New Zealand some good may result; not enough to compensate for the hurt that has been inflicted on our country and especially its Muslim population – but perhaps enough to reduce the chances of it happening again.

I was impressed with the leadership shown by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In particular I was encouraged by her early assurance that New Zealand’s gun laws would be reformed. You see guns are a subject I happen to know quite a bit about. From my early teenage years I hunted goats, pigs and deer. A thousand animals have met their end from a rifle aimed by me. And one thing I know for certain is if you are interested in recreational hunting there is no need for telescopic sights, magazines full of bullets and semi-automatic, semi-military firearms.

Just look at the picture on this post. That’s not a hunting or target rifle. That’s a weapon designed to do what it did in Christchurch. Guns like that should be banned today and the laws relating to ownership of all legal guns made far more severe. Oh and anyone who bought a gun in the days since the Christchurch killings should be required to return them. Their motives are just too suspect for words.

In order to highlight the need for instant tougher gun control in New Zealand I have copied below a story previously posted on Swimwatch. Here is that story.

“I have written several stories about hunting pigs, deer and goats on the East Coast of the North Island. It was a source of income that I used to pay for my annual trip to Australia to train with Don Talbot. I guess it qualified me as a small time professional hunter. There were however fairly strict rules imposed by my parents that controlled what I was allowed and was not allowed to do on my weekend trips into the bush. I was not allowed telescopic sights. I was not allowed a magazine of bullets. Every shot had to be individually loaded. I was not allowed to load a gun unless a prey had been identified.

But probably the strictest rule of all was the clear instruction that if I was hunting with a mate we stayed together. Under no circumstances were we allowed to split-up. “You go down the hill and I’ll climb above and we will catch the deer in the middle” – that was absolutely forbidden. The reason of course was the risk of shooting each other.

With that history you can imagine how disgusted I was last night watching TVNZ Duke program “Wild Kai” (8.30pm on Saturday). Disgusted, because there on film were two lunatics with guns. Not only guns, they had telescopic sights, silencers, tripod stands and powerful binoculars. Their gear must have cost a fortune. This wasn’t hunting deer on the East Coast. This was the war in Iraq in a nicer setting. Even their truck was an upmarket version of the ones you see fighting desert wars. The shallow pretention of the whole program was highlighted when one lunatic complained to his mate that some deer blood had dripped onto his dog box in the back of his precious truck.

But then, as I sat with my mouth open in amazement, TVNZ showed these two guys make a plan to split up and approach a deer from opposite directions. They said it would double the chances of a kill. The multiple increase in the probability of shooting themselves was a footnote to their hunting success. Oh, they mouthed a few cautionary words about being careful not to shoot each other, but for them the advantages clearly outweighed the dangers.

What made all that totally irresponsible was the sun going down and night arriving as they went their separate ways. Dangerous? It was suicidal. Alison asked me if the program was anything like hunting as a teenager in Te Reinga. I said, “Not at all. If we had been caught doing what those guys are promoting on TV we would never have been allowed to go near the bush with a gun again.” And as for TVNZ they have a responsibility not to promote dangerous behavior. TVNZ do not have a license to encourage street car racing or boating in heavy seas without a lifejacket or hunting separately in the dark. Without question TVNZ should face some sort of sanction for irresponsible journalism. Banning the company from showing any hunting programs for five years would be a start.

The reality of TVNZ’s decision to show the behavior of these two lunatics was brought into sharp focus by a court case in Invercargill. Here is a summary of what the Stuff website reported this morning.

Shirley Whyte can’t fathom how her 16-year-old son died. “I still don’t know what happened that day,” she says. “It was a beautiful, clear sunny day and Mark was shot in an open paddock. This much is known: Tuatapere man Brendon Diack, another hunter, fired at least one of the shots that passed through Mark Whyte’s green-brown Swanndri on September 21, 1996. Diack admitted a charge of careless use of a firearm causing death, and served 29 days in jail. Remorseful, he later told media he wasn’t allowed to go hunting again, and didn’t want to.

Because Diack was not true to his word. As the years passed after the killing, he decided he did wish to go hunting again – and five or six times, he applied to police for a new gun license. Every time, they refused. And so, frustrated, he took the NZ Police to court.

Late on Friday afternoon, Judge Mark Callaghan refused Diack’s bid to get his license back, pointing to the 1996 tragedy and two angry outbursts in 2013 and 2014 to show Diack was not a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence.

This was not a case of a hunting group splitting into two. This was two separate hunters in the same area, at the same time. This was not at night, in the dark. But even so a boy got shot by someone who should never be allowed a gun again. Thank God, the New Zealand Police and the Courts appear to have a more responsible attitude to gun ownership than the national, state owned, TV channel. There is no statute of limitations on what Mr. Diack did. The same rules should apply to TVNZ for aiding and abetting irresponsible gun behavior.”

In that post I suggest that the current laws on gun ownership are good and proper. That is not true. New Zealand still allows idiots to own weapons designed to kill people. That should stop today.

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