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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Naivety costs lives (again)

14 August 2019

Right now, lawful, responsible gun owners in New Zealand are being punished for the crimes of a "lone individual" with a mental health problem.

As we all well know, when an Australian gunman ran amok in Christchurch a few months ago, people died.

Predictably, the government responded by effectively saying "guns kill people, let's get rid of the guns".

Naivety at its worst.

So, in the wake of this event, just as in the wake of the Aromoana shooting many years before, our dullard politicians decided that "we must be seen to be doing something", even if that "something" was not addressing the root cause of the problem.

After Aromoana, military-styled semi-automatic rifles were given their own special categorisation and subjected to far more stringent controls in respect to ownership and storage. After the Christchurch shooting, they were banned completely -- along with a whole lot of very useful and practical semi-automatic sporting rifles.

For the actions of two rogue individuals, an entire nation of firearm owners were penalised.

And politicians sat back smugly (again) thinking "job done!"

Yesterday, the scale of their naivety was demonstrated for the world to see.

A man with a knife ran amok in Sydney, just across the ditch.

The man, who killed a woman with his knife before injuring another and menacing many more, was appparently heard to shout "Allahu Akbar", suggesting terrorst sympathies.

However, reports also claim he "was most likely a troubled man with a long history of mental health issues" rather than someone with alliances to any terrorist cause.

I'm sure that police in Australia and New Zealand will be slapping themselves on the back and saying "if we hadn't banned those guns, scores more could be dead right now".

And once again they'd be demonstrating their ignorance and naivety.

If the goal is simply to save lives, then ban cars. Hundreds of people (more than all those who have ever died in mass shootings in NZ) die every year on our roads -- but that's okay, apparently.

Now you might think "but cars are a necessity, guns aren't" and therefore it is practical to bank many types of guns but impractical to ban cars. And you'd be right.

However, we're constantly being told that "Speed Kills" and every year many millions of dollars in speeding fines and countless demerit points are issued for speeding offenses in this country. So here's an idea... if safety is really the goal, how about we mandate that all new cars are limited to a maximum speed of 100KPH?

According to police, it is *never* legal to exceed that speed on the open road, even when passing or when doing so could avoid an accident. So, if speed really does kill and there is never any legal justification for exceeding the posted open-road speed limit then what is the problem with winding back the maximum speed of modern cars with computer-controlled engine management systems?

Indeed, most high-performance cars sold in Europe are already limited (by design) to no more than 155MPH, even though many are capable of more than that. It appears that even the Autobahns have their limits.

If this move reduced our road toll by even just 10%, that'd be a saving of dozens of lives each and every year -- without *any* inconvenience to "law abiding" motorists.

But no, even though we have the technology to do this, even though we know it would save lives, even though it would inconvenience no law-abiding road-user -- we refuse to implement this simple measure to save lives.

Crazy!

And speaking of crazy... we don't have a gun problem in New Zealand, we (like Australia) have a mental health problem.

Perhaps the government decided that $200m spent on buying back semi-auto firearms was a better investment than spending that $200m on providing a more effective mental health system. If so, they are even thicker than I had imagined.

Nobody of sound mind goes around slaughtering innocent people. And, if they can't have access to a gun, they'll (as proven yesterday) use a knife, or a car, or some other method of killing. Simply confiscating "the weapon de jour" will never solve this problem. Addressing the root cause is a far more effective solution.

Your thoughts on this?

Is the "ban hammer", a very blunt instrument that seldom achieves the desired results, being used far too often by dimwitted politicians who simply want to be seen to be doing something (anything!)?

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