Editorial: Time for common sense on gun laws

By Kim Gillespie

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I suppose it's easy to sit back on this side of the world and judge gun-toting Americans and their vehement opposition to attempts at stricter firearms laws.

After all, New Zealand is a different kettle of fish.

New Zealand hasn't seen more than 1000 gun deaths since Sandy Hook. New Zealand doesn't have about 32,000 gun deaths a year.

So what would we know about it?

What we do have is common sense.

When President Obama promotes universal background checks on all gun buyers and a renewed ban on military-style assault weapons among other measures, who would argue that this would make the situation worse, that children would be even more at risk?

The NRA, that's who. The National Rifle Association, once famously headed by Cold Hand Chuck _ Charlton Heston _ is denouncing new laws as an assault on American's liberties.

"It's not about protecting children, it's about banning your guns _ period!'' wrote one of the NRA's top guns in a fundraising letter.

I'd argue that the measures noted above seem perfectly reasonable, in fact necessary and overdue.

And we should get our own house in order too.

More than 5000 licence holders in New Zealand are permitted to possess military-style semi-automatics.

That's just the legal ones. The number of illegal firearms in circulation is unknown.

We may not see ourselves as a gun nation but there are more than 24,000 firearm licence holders in the Bay of Plenty alone.

Many in the States may feel their right to carry military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines outweighs the rights of everyone else to not be ripped to shreds by bullets, but do they also feel that right extends to extremist groups on the left and right, the mentally unbalanced, the angry and frustrated?

Unfortunately, yes. The right to bear arms seems paramount.

Surely it shouldn't take mass shooting after mass shooting for the United States to seriously crack down. But it's such a political hot potato that even the shooting deaths of 20 young children at one school isn't evidence enough for the gun lobby that there's a problem. Or rather, that the problem isn't Hollywood or any other number of factors that aren't gun control.

"We can't put this off off any longer,'' Obama said as he unveiled his proposed new gun laws.

No, you can't. What took so long?


- Rotorua Daily Post

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