On Guns, New Zealand, and politics

It seems that the terrible act that recently occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand, is receiving the kind of media attention and reflective commentary that has little been seen since the Port Arthur (Tasmania) or Hoddle Street (Melbourne) shootings that took place decades ago. And that discussion (not the act) is something commendable, despite the shocking horrendous act the gunman saw fit to do.

For those who may not know (and I realise that many friends and acquaintances are aware of it) one of my closest friends was one of the seven people who died a victim in the 1987 Hoddle Street shootings. It is not only shocking, but the strain and pain it leaves is deeper than when someone dies of terrible but ‘acceptable’ causes, such as cancer or a car accident (and at my age, each of those has occurred).

To try and understand the mindset of someone who decides to either randomly target individual people or who targets non-violent people based on their own worldview is difficult for us in the western culture. I personally think that, collectively, we have striven to cleanse ourselves of this mental detriment following the horrible events of WWII. Yet to strive to have a discussion, understanding must take place.

I am reminded of a statement my grandfather made to me in the 1960s in France – he was old enough to have fought in WWI, and still young enough to also have fought in WWII… and somehow managed to live through both! – he mentioned that it is important to be able to understand and battle the ideas (in this case nazism) in order to avoid have to battle the people (in that case germans). Ie, unless one has the audacity to speak against worldview and points of view with which one disagrees or finds unworthy of civil society, one risks having to later on engage in not just a war of ideas, but the hideousness of warfare.

Where are we at in the West? increasingly it seems that people are unable to speak against points of view or religious views for fear of either ‘offending’ or, in some cases, of violent reprisals. The case in Australia of Section 18C as something introduced to placate religious views is a case in point. Where one is not able to speak and discuss and be critical of certain viewpoints, it is unfortunate that some will take the very path of violence that should never be tolerated.

On this note, the Liberal Democrats have always been strong in two areas with which I agree: small government and repealing Section 18C that goes too far in prohibiting discussion. Where they have gone too far is in the view now proposed for all-too-easy gun access. It should be remembered that most guns have been designed for the purposes neither of hunting nor target sportsmanship, but rather, and simply, for the purposes of harming other human beings. And those are the ones that, as far as I am concerned, need to be categorically prohibited.







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