Guns really must be kept under tight control

By Scott Inglis

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I remember New Zealand's notorious Aramoana massacre like it was yesterday.

I was a young reporter when gunman David Gray's rampage erupted on November 13, 1990.

As the nightmare unfolded overnight and into the next morning, I hit the phones to contact anyone in the remote settlement to find out what was happening.

It was big news across the country, and the world, and we needed to get our own story on the front page.

It was a time when everyone was stunned. How could that happen here? Gray killed 13 people before police shot him dead. Thankfully, such tragedies are rare here. But not in the United States.

The US is a country embroiled in huge controversy over its gun laws after 20 children were gunned down in their classes in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14.

The right to bear arms in the US is enshrined in the country's fabric. The National Rifle Association has historically promoted gun ownership, safety, hunting and self-defence but, as a lobby, fiercely believes the constitution's second amendment gives people the right to own firearms.

It's something I struggle with. Guns are instruments of death and need to be carefully controlled. While I have no interest in hunting, I support the right of honest, law-abiding, right-thinking adults to hunt fair game in the rural parts of New Zealand.

Likewise, I think people who shoot as a sport are pursuing a pastime that requires great skill, and some people will want to collect certain guns.

And, of course, our police need efficient access to firearms to protect themselves and the public. But that's where it should end.

There should be no need for anyone else to have guns.

The US needs to get tougher on guns, but I wonder if it is too late and the problem too big.

In this country, the law is strict on possessing and using firearms.

Those wanting to do so undergo a police vetting process. No law will be perfect and criminals will always get their hands on such weapons, but it is crucial New Zealand keeps a tight lid on gun ownership.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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