Are We Safer Yet?

By Beth Houlbrooke
ACT party Deputy Leader / Vice President  

Why on earth would you make the handing in of firearms a media spectacle? Is this to make law-abiding gun owners look like some kind of scourge on the community? There is no need for public “events”. This is just a PR stunt designed for international news media coverage, and it is utterly sickening.

Around 3000 ill-gotten, illegal firearms have been marked for collection in the Government’s buyback scheme and are not eligible for compensation, Police Minister Stuart Nash says.

And police have seized an additional 1300 unlawful guns since March, many from gangs and people without firearms licences.

Umm… isn’t the latter what the police should be focussed on anyway?

There’s a hierarchy here of likely hand-ins:

  1. Legally acquired for legal purposes (the majority of guns being handed in)
  2. Illegally acquired for legal purposes (such as being handed down grandad’s old gun without having a firearms licence)
  3. Legally acquired for illegal purposes (such as the Christchurch mosque gun-man)
  4. Illegally acquired for illegal purposes (such as gangs and drug dealers)

That the Christchurch mosque gunman was in any other category than the first is something that can never be 100% avoided. If anything, we are less safe with only the guns in the latter two categories left in circulation.

This weekend ACT will be at Alexandra Park Auckland Antique Arms Association Show. Call by our stand for a chat about our draft Firearms policy, on which we are seeking feedback.

The Homicide Report by Stuff makes interesting reading. It reveals that the vast majority of those who kill with guns are unlicensed and their weapon of choice is often a .22 calibre rifle or shotgun.

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

What a brilliant solution for reducing waste. These redundant unused plastic bags are being given new life as – plastic bags. Without this initiative, we could see the dumping of thousands of stocks of plastic bags by businesses. I applaud this.

For other uses, many of us are unwillingly moving, virtuously, to paper bags. Hang on, haven’t we been told for years to “consider the environment” before printing out e-mails? Haven’t we all moved to paperless systems to save the trees? With the plethora of paper bags that seem to be finding their way into my household lately, for which I have no secondary use (they don’t fit the rubbish bin, can’t tolerate anything wet or oily), I’ve started to fill my recycling bin with them. More paper than I’ve ever thrown out.

In another swiftly ensuing unintended consequence, local councils are being asked to provide doggy-doo bags and dispensers in parks, funded by ratepayers. Don’t look for the link, take my word for it: I’ve had two such requests just this week.

The ban might even be a boon for plastic bag manufacturers who can now make bigger profits from selling plastic bags bundled, packaged and labelled as things such as bin liners, nappy bags, and doggy doo bags.

If we really care about the effects of plastic in the environment, then we need to focus on the 93% of plastic waste found in the world’s oceans that’s been traced to ten rivers in Asia and Africa. David has suggested a levy to help fund clean-up efforts. This is optional; user pays. If you don’t want a bag then don’t take one and don’t pay the levy.

We may end not too removed from a situation like this skit.

LAST WORD

Only ACT is prepared to stand firmly in the court of the most fundamental freedom all of humanity must have, that of expression through speech or written word, in the face of tighter restrictions. Please sign our Freedom to Speak petition here.

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