Priorities: Killer Guns or Killer Cancer?

Which kills more New Zealanders every year, guns or cancer? Okay, so it was a trick question because firearms don’t kill people: people holding the firearms kill people.

The data showed that more than 9500 people died from cancer each year, representing 31 per cent of all deaths recorded in New Zealand.

A Newspaper – May 2018

On a global scale, New Zealand’s rates of gun violence are extremely low.
In 2016, there were nine gun murders or manslaughters in New Zealand, a rate of 1.87 per million people.


Actual figures are a bit hard to find but, for the last few years, the number has been around 2 per million, ie about 8 – 10 per year.

This year we had a tragic anomaly in Christchurch, delivered by an Australian; but even adding that tragedy to the baseline numbers, the comparison is still 60 vs 9500.

Which is the more effective place to put government resources?

Should the government purchase firearms from people – many of whom will take that money, go straight back to the gun shop and buy a newer model that is still quite capable of killing a person?

Or should the government spend all that money on people who are suffering from cancer?

And we all know that the CoL budget for the firearm confiscation and purchase scheme is woefully short. $168 million could become $500 million or more. Who knows? The police don’t and the CoL don’t; they are simply virtue signalling because of one tragic, anomalous act.

We are going to be safer, they tell us. Given the odds of 9500:10 or even 9500:60, the safer bet is helping cancer patients, not wasting our taxpayer money on firearms.

Step forward National with their big policy announcment:

National leader Simon Bridges has pledged to introduce a $200m cancer drugs fund and a new cancer agency if elected in 2020, a strike deep into Labour territory. […]

Labour promised to set up a similar national cancer agency to end the “post-code lottery of cancer care” – where survival rates differ between regions – but have not yet implemented that promise.

“New Zealanders shouldn’t have to mortgage their houses, set up a Givealittle page, or take out massive loans to be able to afford medicines which are funded in other countries.”

Bridges said cancer was New Zealand’s biggest killer and Kiwis shouldn’t have to move countries to access treatment.[…]

As Prime Minister I will not stand by and watch as people die when we have the opportunity to do more.” […]

“The sad reality is that most New Zealand families will be affected by cancer. Cancer doesn’t discriminate when it chooses its victims and people shouldn’t be discriminated against when it comes to treatment depending on their postcode,” Bridges said.

“So I’m also committing to a National Cancer Agency. This would be independent of the Ministry of Health and focus on greater accountability and consistency of access across New Zealand.”

The national cancer office would cost $10m a year according to National’s costings, and come out out of the regular health budget baseline. This is the same costing Labour have estimated for such an office.

It would ensure a consistency of diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes across all district health boards (DHBs), with targets set by the agency, who would then hold the DHBs accountable.