Monday, June 10, 2019

Clive Bibby: A disturbing aspect of a disturbing bunch of statistics

I wrote some time ago criticising the reaction of the Government to the Christchurch massacre by rushing to introduce legislation that would render automatic guns illegal and also allow for a "buy back" scheme aimed at removing those in existence from the public arena.

In doing so l voiced an opinion that their focusing on the elimination of the right to own or use automatic weaponry was largely a waste of time and money if the objective was to prevent a reoccurrence of that tragedy or even one of less magnitude.

At the time, l could not have imagined how much negative reaction that column alone would generate. And believe me, most of it was pretty hostile.

I can refer to a few choice words used to describe my persona - actually some l haven't been called before and that in itself is surprising because when you become a social commentator, you are instantly fair game for those who think you're a waste of space.

Fair enough, although in retrospect, as we are able to measure the accuracy of my comments against events that have happened since that horrible time, perhaps those who were vociferous in their support of the Government's actions may like to reconsider their position.

I read the other day that there was a possibility or even a probability that the "buy back" scheme is already approaching the $one billion mark and may even cost the taxpayer more.

So, on that basis alone, surely it is reasonable to ask if that exercise is worth it in comparison with that amount of money being spent in other areas that promise so much  more dealing with these threats to public safety. In the same context, we should also ask  if the banning of these guns in itself has made any measurable difference to public safety.

The answer must surely be the same as when l first proposed the question when the ink was not yet dry after the legislation was passed under urgency through the House.

It has almost certainly made little difference and is unlikely to do so in the future either.

I can hear the howls of abuse already but that won't do anything in defence of these precipitate government responses to a serious issue that must be addressed.

You see, the government has demonstrated yet again that it is more concerned about its popularity than in taking the time to think this through and hopefully come up with a solution that at least offers the prospect of making a difference.

To do so however, does require a re-examination of the evidence upon which the government based its hip reaction to the public calls for action following the massacre.

When they do, they will find that the one thing in common with the perpetrators of these criminal acts is not the weapons they use or even the nature of their birth or their ideological persuasion.

It is the fact that they are all mentally disturbed individuals even though some may not satisfy the requirements of being classified as criminally insane. There is no question that they all needed help and it is probably a fair bet that had they either sought or encountered that type of assistance from the highly skilled professionals capable of providing it, many of those victims would still be alive.

The most recent reported incident in the US of this type of indiscriminate slaughter listed the killer as a black man using a hand gun.

So, out the window goes the claim that all these crimes are committed by white supremacists using automatic weapons.

Sadly it will be of little comfort for the grieving members of the victims' families in realising that their loved ones may still have been amongst us had successive Governments acknowledged earlier that the recent budget allocation of significant amounts of taxpayers' funds to the mental health agencies around the country was a far more constructive move in mitigation than simply banning the guns. 

Unfortunately for them it will be considered too little, too late but l'm sure that most will agree that it is better late than never and be prepared to give this Government the credit where it is due.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.


Keith said...

The idea that banning, or making it illegal, anything will actually remove it from society has been proven to fail time and time again. Since the Order-in-Council and the subsequent legislation, only 300 - 400 of the now banned firearms have been surrendered, the remaining ones (several thousand) are still being held by the owners. We are not seeing the events the legislation was intending to prevent occurring, despite the continuation of ownership of these firearms. My only gripe is, there is an unfortunate misunderstanding amongst a large sector of the community regarding the difference between AUTOMATIC and SEMI-AUTOMATIC firearms. It would be helpful if, as a 'commentator' you could get your facts right. The Arms Amendment Bill has targeted SEMI-Automatic rifles - and has caught up a host of other MANUAL operation rifles at the same time. AUTOMATIC rifles have ALWAYS been subject to very strict control and can only be held by approved collectors.

mike said...

Well said Clive. As we have seen in other countries, if the taking of lives is a reason, the means will be whatever weapon in available. Not a specific weapon. Knives are probably more common a weapon than guns.
Any way you're correct in saying the buy back money would be better spent on mental health and maybe better gun licencing protocol. Lets face it, if the reports are correct, that person obtained his gun licence under suspicious circumstances.