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Your Views: Americans to Kiwis: Lay off the calls for gun control

The campus shooting in the US has once again raised questions about gun control. A number of US readers below are especially taking issue with the views of Kiwis in this debate and some are strongly justifying their "right to bear arms."

This forum debate has now closed. Here is a selection of your views on the topic.:

Andy
There has been considerable invective visited upon New Zealanders by American folk on this forum. Less than 10 per cent of Americans have passports.The majority of New Zealanders have travelled. We have a different perspective on world affairs because we are a small nation - and therefore tend look constantly beyond our own borders. What is out there is not pretty. Nor is a lot of what happens here. Insecurity and a questioning disposition tend to result in a more balanced world view. I am pleased that most of the world don't appear to know much about us including our location. Tragedy is part and parcel of everyone's life. It is not exclusive to Americans. This event was a tragedy - but has been blown totally out of perspective. For example more than 30,000 people in third world countries die from rabies every year vs one every two years in the USA. The media lens roves randomly across the agar plate of human life and does not always focus upon the major pathology.

Chris
As an American who spent a year living abroad in NZ, let me say that many views espoused by many Kiwis here are willfully ignorant and downright laughable. I worried more about my personal safety in Dunedin than I do in my hometown in Vermont. I've never worried about violence while living in the US and I lived in NYC for three years. While there are many guns in America, many many many Americans do not own one. Those who think your average American walks around terrified of violence are ignorant. For those who tell Americans to butt out of other people's business: Butt out of ours. For those who have offered their condolences: Thanks. We do appreciate it.

Hayley
I am a New Zealander - born and raised - lived there 27 years of my life. I have lived in the US for 7 years and hold dual citizenship. I think its fair to say that I have a fairly broad view of this issue. I support gun control - even though I was around guns my whole life in NZ (parents were hunters and farmers). I work with minority youth in the inner city of a very depressed American city. This is what I know to be true - we would be better off without guns in this country - but I do not believe this incident will force that change. That said - you wouldnt believe what it is like to live here relative to NZ - its different - both better and worse. The average white person living in the average white neighborhood leaves their car unlocked at the grocery store. In that neighborhood stuff does not generally get stolen here the way it might in NZ. I've been burgled twice in my life - both times in NZ. I have family who work in social services in NZ and the child abuse and family violence there is out of control (as it is here). Here - people dont generally dialogue across cultures, racism is the elephant in the room (but it is in NZ too), ethnic groups are geographically and economically siloed, many people are way too preoccupied with material possessions. The moral of this I think is that every country has its issues and challenges. To quote Mahatma Gandhi: You must be the change you wish to see in the world. That starts here. I do wish people would stop throwing stones. Most importantly - my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families - including the family of this very very troubled and sad young person who so clearly did not get the help he needed. And thats as true for Cho Seung-hui as it was for David Gray in 1990. Lets start seeing connections and start talking rather than being divisive.

Daron Brinsdon
I was a little surprised at the amount of feedback from Americans on this subject (considering it's a NZ paper). I've read the editorial and in context it's pretty harsh. I hope people from everywhere can see a view expressed in an editorial would not necessarily reflect the views of everyone else in that country.I am truly sorry for the hurt that has been caused by this incident. It's difficult to comprehend the tragedy. Still, the question is: Do you actually need that many weapons?

Daniel
The issue has nothing, I stress nothing, to do with guns. Guns is only the means to commit such a crime, not the initiation. If it wasn't guns it would be explosives converted from your own excrement. If you talk about banning guns why not ban hands? Hands cause all the issues in the world. The issue is to do with something much larger than petty differences between countries. Its about the society we have created and tolerated. Are we satisfied to in a world forced into enslavement paying off a credit system we don't have any money to pay off? Are we content for being singled out as a digit in a world of digits, where the cries of the needy are drowned by the cries of the greedy? Are we ignorant to the fact we pay people less than what is required for them to live but they have "a choice" to spend the money on something else to make themselves feel better about their life? Look at people out there? Why are they fighting? They are fighting to hold onto the very thing they are losing. Their direction in life, their clarity their identity, their culture. Yes we have created a society that works, but society is about the people in it. Why has the lone gunman "types" been missed and missed? Because the culture of the people in charge are far less concerned about other people today, and it trickles down the whole system from political, to economic, to education institutions to health institutions. Its fairly easy to create the "shooter" personality, they are everywhere in the world, in every school in every institution and unless people are willing to "care" and support everyone, there are millions of ticking time bombs today, all a symptom of a much bigger social/political/economic pandemic. I am not even going to tie all the other issues into this, because they all do. So get your head out of the barrel of the gun and focus on why people pull triggers.

Darren (USA)
As a NZder living in the US for 13 years I find the comments made by the editor typical of the one-sided view that New Zealanders hear through the main stream media. First, Michael Moore is a left-wing (liberal) extremist. His views are very politically motivated, this is demonstrated in his "documentaries" (I use the term loosely). When the movie mentioned in this article is viewed with an open mind it actually endorses gun ownership. When Detroit was compared with (the name escapes me—the Canadian city on the opposite shore). Mr. Moore found than even though the Canadian city had more gun ownership per capita, they has less gun crime. I don't have the exact facts before me, but, there was another school shooting several years ago (A law school in rural America). This time, another student went to his car, retrieved his hand gun and stopped the gunman before he could shoot anyone else. The point to this story is: out of the hundreds of American newspapers, only one published an article that correctly identified that a citizen who owned a gun stopped the gunman. Sure, access to guns needs to be addressed by the US government, but removing guns from peaceful citizens is not the answer. C'mon Kiwi's, don't be fooled by the slanted garbage coming from the media. Their goal is not to tell the truth, it's to sell newspapers and ad time on TV. The way they do this is by finding as many angles as possible so that they can suck us in, hook, line, and sinker. Before going off half cocked, do your home work; look for the other side of the story. To be fair one should look to a right-wing commentator. The truth is likely somewhere in between. As for Virginia: quit trying to find blame (the only person who can be blamed is dead) and pray for the victims and their families.

Frank McNabb
Yes, I agree gun control should be reviewed however, let's look at the other side of the coin here for a minute. Isn't about time we looked at antidepressants control? Wherever we see school violence, anti depressant drugs seem to be found at the scene of the crime. The correlation is not coincidence. The links between antidepressants and violence are well documented. This so-called "bad guy" was apparently taking antidepressant drugs! Did we hear, read or see anything about this mentioned in the mainstream media? Not to my knowledge. Why I wonder? Let's go back almost eight years now to Columbine High School where the shooters in that massacre were also - yes, you guessed it - taking antidepressant drugs. Giving young men antidepressant drugs is just like building silent time bombs and waiting round for one suddenly to go off. The question now is what is the most important issue here - antidepressant control or gun control? I'd go for the first option myself. My heart goes out to all who has died and their families - on both sides in this what I call a "preventable" incident. But it really doesn't end here with the 32 dead at Virginia Tech. In America alone over 100,000 people every year are killed by prescription drugs and millions more killed around the world by pharmaceuticals, whether or not they were killed in a headline-grabbing act of extreme violence. The shootings won't stop until the pills are banned. Period. If we all want to see and end to this type of violence, and I'm sure we all do, especially us parents, then we must end this "chemical warfare" being waged against the minds of our young men and children by the drug companies. Unless we restrict the use of pharmaceutical drugs and find a way to help young men achieve mental health through nutrition (what a great idea), and the avoidance of toxic chemicals, we're going to see more of the same - unfortunately. And it won't only be America. This problem is international and calls for an international response. Forget the guns - they can wait. They have been doing the same damage for centuries. This cannot wait!

Stephen C
I am a Kiwi living in the U.S and can honestly say that tighter gun laws here would increase the amount of violent crime. People who want to commit crimes will get a gun by any means possible - thats why they are criminals. Without the fear of being stopped by law abiding citizens carrying weapons, the result would be horrendous. N.Z how about getting your underage drinking and drug problems under control. Heres a suggestion to stop that - allow parents to smack their naughty kids!!

JohnH
My condolences go to the families and friends of those students murdered at Virginia Tech. My apologies go to those Americans who have been unduly criticised by my fellow countrymen and women. IMO it is impossible to compare American gun laws with those of New Zealand. Neither are "lax"; neither are perfect - they are just different, and many parts of the extensive US gun laws are a great deal more restrictive than those in New Zealand. It is difficult to diagnose mental illnesses and particularly so when only a few symptoms are expressing. When all of the facts are known there may be some consensus on actions that could reduce the possibility of similar incidents. Let's hope so!

David
As an American constitutional lawyer who has studied in the United States, I have observed that most Americans quote the second amendment to the constitution without knowing what it means or indeed, what it intended to achieve at the time it was created. Like any historical document, it needs to be considered in the context in which it was written. The amendment reads: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The purpose of this amendment, in my view and that of many scholars, was only to establish the legitimacy of a militia, whether standing or otherwise. To 'bear' arms as was intended in the amendment, means to carry arms for a military, or in this case a lawful militia regulated purpose. A hunter or recreational shooter does not 'bear arms'. To keep arms in this instance means that a militiaman could keep his rifle so as to be able to participate in a militia without the need for district armouries which could be destroyed or captured by an enemy and therefore eliminate the ability of the militia to arm themselves. How any American living in 2007, or even in the last 100 years, could try to interpret that this amendment justifies their right to carry and use firearms as individual citizens is a subject for debate. However, in my opinion it is preposterous. It was not what the authors of the constitution intended and I am amazed that American lawmakers continue to allow widespread misinterpretation to prevail.

Vivien
I hold dual NZ and USA citizenship. I live in the USA. After reading so many of you on this forum, I have to say that I am ashamed of so many of my NZ countrymen. Instead of showing compassion over this killing spree in Virginia Tech, you have quickly turn to the usual "America bashing." Your lack of kindness towards this country never ceases to amaze me. Consider this: Gun crime in the US is on the decline; 60 per cent of all aid around the world comes from the USA; I have never met an American who doesn't love NZ and NZers - even those who have never visited NZ - and even those who have no idea that you hold these small-minded, despicable views of this country; • If NZ ever goes through a national tragedy, you will find multitudes of Americans will run to your side and will sacrifice financially and personally to see you restored. Your American-hating words are getting so old. May I ask you to pray for the victims and their families and speak just a little more kindly to your American brothers - you will be heard much more clearly when you are kind and polite.

Raj
The appalling tragedy that reverberated around the world this week demonstrates yet again that until The United States grows up and realises that it can do without readily accessible lethal weapons, this will not be the last such killing spree. For a society that prides itself on forward thinking, capitalist virtues, freedom of speech and liberal values, the US has yet again shown the rest of the planet that underneath it all, it clings to the frayed, aged principles of history that anyone has the right to bear arms and protect themself, like some sort of latter day wild west gunslinger. Wakey wakey America, while the rest of the world shakes its head again at another demonstration of your moronic and anachronistic mandate of the gun culture, you should take the time to reflect on the now shattered lives of the 32 families bereft of their loved ones. Shame, shame, shame.

James
Well, quite frankly I'm appalled that anyone in America can be so horrified about the 33 deaths at Virginia Tech. So much grief and angst. Well, today alone 200 innocents were massacred in Baghdad. Where is your grief and angst for them? Are they not worthy? Not American enough? Well if they aren't, the reason they are dying is certainly very American indeed. Get over it and start looking around at the results of your great nation's hideous foreign policies...

Rick
I am deeply saddened by the events at Virginia Tech. To all all pro-gun Americans I have one comment. War zones aside, name one other country where you see the frequency of school and now university gun massacres that the US is experiencing? Name one! Step back and look at the big picture - there is something deeply wrong with your society and moral fabric if you continue to produce teenagers and young adults capable of such horrific monstrosities. Every country has its problems. There is no paradise on earth (including New Zealand!). As far as these massacre' go, the US is no.1 so you have to look at whats causing that and remedy it. You can't continue on business as usual.

Julian
I am pleased to read how indignant some of the comments are as to the constitutional right of Americans to own and bear guns, even more so by the baseless reproaches against New Zealand. It is laughable that people can get so worked up about items that are unnecessary, violent, and stupid. "How long before it happens in New Zealand?" you point out angrily. Not long, perhaps, but certainly not every weekend. The US is a wonderful country with many beautiful cities and countless amazing people. But those who support their constitution and government with blind faith are kidding themselves. Pointing out the many good things that America has done for the world does not eliminate the bad. Pointing out other countries' faults does not eliminate your own glaring flaws. The majority of the arguments posted here are baseless, delusional, ignorant and (I'm sad to say) American. If it weren't for the rest of the world we'd all be speaking American.

Sonja
I ashamed to be a Kiwi, after reading some of the vitriolic posts on this website. I am also ashamed to be a resident of the US. Blaming America as a whole or calling New Zealand "insignificant and ignorant" is both rude and ignorant. The blame for this tragedy lies squarely on the shoulders of the man who pulled the trigger. Finger pointing will not change anything. With or without guns, this man was a ticking timebomb. He would have found some other way to cause the mayhem and grief that he did. And have New Zealanders forgotten what happened 20 years ago or so, when a crazed man went on a rampage in New Zealand and killed a bunch of people, including children and the local cop, even thought "nobody in New Zealand has access to guns"? That sort of thing is going to happen regardless. The only thing we can do as citizens of this world in pay attention to those around us and hope that we can help someone before they resort to this kind of action. New Zealand is still a fabulous place to live (I miss home daily) and the US is also a great home to me and my family. Quit harping on each other. It is infantile behaviour at best and does not do either country any justice.

Mary
To those ignorant and arrogant Americans criticizing Kiwis who dare to speak out against the US abhorrent gun laws, you are really pathetic. While sympathizing with those who lost loved ones in the recent terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, I have come to the conclusion that there are many Americans, not all, who are paranoid morons, believing they must protect themselves at any cost and arm themselves with guns against whatever imaginary foe their stupid and warped minds can dream up! I'm sure this paranoia has led to the ongoing incidence of children killing and maiming other children at schools and colleges in the US, something which seems to be at the moment exclusive to America! Perhaps this could be something to do with the "right to bear arms" law! Some American correspondents in this column have said we Kiwis would be speaking German or Japanese if it wasn't for the Americans intervening in WWII in Europe and the Pacific. Such statements are a load of absolute codswallop to say the least! As far as WWII in Europe was concerned, the Americans only went in towards the end of the war when they could see it was almost over, after many, many Kiwis amongst others sacrificed their lives in an effort to make this world a better place. No thanks to the Americans in this respect! Again many Kiwis gave their lives protecting their own territory in the Pacific. So no America, you definitely did not save our bacon in either case!

Tarns
I am a New Zealander and am appalled by the 'taunts' by both sides. Don't let comments from both sides form your view on this country or the US, both are proud nations. We forget a tragedy has occurred and yet many kiwis find it necessary to talk about the perceived lack of gun control in the US. Who cares, its their country and their laws. We all look at one incident and judge a country on that. What is ironic is that many of us kiwis have been affected by this type of violence, let us never forget the Aramoana massacre, the Pukekohe family, the Cullen-Bairn killings... all with shotguns.

Barry
The best form of defence is attack, that is why there are such strong views against New Zealanders questioning gun control laws in America. Americans realise they have a major problem with guns but are too proud and steeped in their history of allowing guns to ever change. Yes these nutters exist in every society, yes they are going to do bad things but properly vetting people who want to buy guns before giving them a licence and not allowing the private ownership of semi automatics will limit the harm they can do. There is a large gun ownership in New Zealand but no-one will be allowed to own semi automatics and licencing laws are very strict. Therefore a nutter is more likely to go at you with a machete than he will ever be able to do with a gun meaning the number of victims will be limited. I don't know actual statistics but I am sure gun incidents in NZ are rare whereas there are thousands of cases in the US.

Pamela
Many social services worldwide are just an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Prevention and care of those with problems is really needed. However, guns are a dangerous weapon to have handy and more restrictions on gun ownership would have helped to prevent this occurring.

Kris
A tragedy happens in the USA and we are all to stop and go oh my God? Tragedy is happening in Iraq every day and what are you Americans doing about it? Is sad what has happen, but get off your high horses you Americans the rest of the world is already suffering for your mistakes!! How sad. NZ'ers criticise American gun control (or the absolute lack thereof)& have an opinion about a massacre and we get venom from Americans giving us an ancient history lesson about how they saved our backsides in WW2. We are so grateful that you did & that you have made the world a better place for it (Yeah, right!)It took you 2 years to figure out there was even a World War happening!!! How about you concentrate on avoiding massacres in a gun soaked society instead of patting yourselves on the back about how brave & noble your country is in watching over us like some kind of benevolent old uncle. You are not doing to well at it lately - are you!

Victoria
Has anyone taken note of the rules of this forum? Nope, didn't think so...definitely no courtesy or respect for other's viewpoints in here...just an excuse for a good old prejudiced rant.

Steven
I've just read messages from American's celebrating their constitutional right to bear arms. Wasn't this right written into the constitution by people who'd just fought a revolution, by people who saw the importance of a well armed population in raising a militia to defend the mother land? The ability to use this same right in today's world to justify the sale of small arms so indiscriminately as occurs in the US highlights the dangers of allowing people from so long ago to frame entrenched laws to govern the lives of people today.

Mark
Please ignore the anti-US bigots here. A New Zealander myself you must understand that we are constantly bombarded with anti-US propaganda from the mostly leftist media here. And like most people worldwide, few question what they are force feed by the media. But deeper than that is an inferiority complex; everybody outside Rome hated Rome, everybody hated the British Empire when it was the biggest, and now it's fashionable to hate the US as the new Rome - it's just how jealous minds work.

NeillR
Tragic would be if something like this happened once. I can only presume (like other NZer's) that these events are no longer tragic, given that they are occurring regularly with an easy (but tough) solution. The authorities are trying to hunt for motives, but they are immediately clear. The gun's the critical element. It's pretty simple - you have a case of someone who lacks power (through bullying or feeling left out) who gains it through the gun. It's his one and only shot (excuse the pun) to get back at all those people who upset him through the years. The gun gives him power that he wouldn't get from other means. If he had a knife he could be easily overpowered (forcing him to confront his lack of power once again). No other weapon puts you in control like a gun. It's the powerless fighting back - just like in "Falling Down". One day America will wake up to the fact that the easiest way to stop this from happening is to deny the downtrodden, bullied "little guy" access to that which allows him to live out his greatest fantasy - the feeling of finally having some power.

Stephen (US)
Kiwis, stay home please, you have nothing to offer us.

Callan
Everyone writing in has entirely lost sight of the issue at hand. . Kiwis- yes, we feel America has some fundamental cultural issues to confront around guns and guns possession. We don't need to be nasty though, the situation is awful in the extreme- how would we feel if Americans gave us this kind of attitude? Americans- you need to confront the issue. One submitter wrote that Cho was a 'guest' in America, he had been there many years (more than in Korea) and was thus in the most part a product of American culture and upbringing. Despite that fact he had a family of Korean origin, he cites fundamental issues with American culture as maybe his largest motivating factor behind his actions. In addition, America does have a gun culture problem. It is time it faced up to the problem (just like all countries have their own issues). To bog the debate down in emotive mutterings about constitutional rights , hunting and self-protection is ridiculous.

Madeleine Ware
This latest incident cannot be explained away as the shooter not being an American simply because he lacked the right piece of paper. He spent 15 years of his youth there. That's more than enough time to have become culturally assimilated. It is true that if someone else had had a gun, then the VT shooter could have been stopped - no-one can deny it. However, it is also true that this disturbed young man, while having been disturbed for some time, did not kill anybody until he had a gun. Here's a statistic: Firearms were used to commit 68 per cent of the 14,860 homicides in the United States during 2005 (www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_06.html) Incidentally, someone's assertion that gun deaths were higher in gun control states than other states that are more pro-gun appears to be bogus: www.vpc.org/press/0602rank.htm
While trying to get rid of all the guns may seem an impossible task, restricting access to ammo should be comparatively easy. A gun without ammo is no more harmful than any other blunt instrument. I think the real issue lies in the US's apparent enthusiasm in the use of force and violence to solve problems, as role-modelled by US foreign policy.

Phil Wallington
So a homicidal nutter shoots a group of people... and the gun gets the blame. If he did not have a gun he might have used a knife or a bomb or a chainsaw. He might even have waited till it was dark and set fire to the dormitory and killed everyone it. I recall the case of a mass killer in outback Australia who used his semi-trailer to demolish a roadhouse from which he had been ejected for drunken and threatening behaviour. He managed to kill just about everyone in it. Get a life anti-gun nazis. If you take away guns next it will be steak-knives or umbrellas or tennis racquets or something else. A gun is a most useful tool... just like a chainsaw, a car a boat or even an aircraft. Give any of those to a nutter and you will just as likely have another massacre.

Pascal
It seems that once more my countrymen focus on the narrow-minded propaganda that is fed to them by the likes of Michael Moore. Forget the selective edits, the level of dramatization and just gobble up what he has written.Yes, there can probably be more control over guns, but with that we have to consider the nation and it's culture as a whole. In America this might not be entirely appropriate or even desirable, whereas here it seems to work well. But that is because we are different culturally, we have different situations and attitudes. For us to turn around and condemn and dictate to America what they should be doing is laughable. And this gun control frenzy is coming from a nation that legally sanctions the murder of 18,000 babies a year. Give me a break. We should clean up our own act before even daring to offer suggestions to other nations.But I'm saddened to read what some New Zealanders write to our friends in America. They are a nation of big hearts and tragic events like this hurts them all. There's no need for us to rub salt into their wounds, but as a Western ally we should be extending our condolences and love to them.

Mike D
I don't get why the whole universe is concerned with this. Its a tragic situation, but then its an American problem. Americans believe in their right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment. One would presume then, that they're also ok with the occasional "gunfight at OK corral" that breaks out as a result. And the theme seems to repeat with frightening regularity, like some kind of macabre Hollywood sequel gone mad. Thanks to gun control, Kiwis and Aussies will hopefully never face another Aramoana or Port Arthur. We learnt that lesson the hard way and should be proud our leaders showed the wisdom and the strength to do what was necessary (they don't always, so we should be grateful for those moments). What I worry about is how much more of this puerile media coverage we'll have to endure? It seems the Americans would rather live with this problem than deal with it, so lets everyone else just move on. Did anyone realise the cricket world cup is on? And we're still in it!

Ray Butler
Every country has its good and bad points. Yes NZ is a small group of islands with high rates of child abuse and teenage suicide. (We really need to address these issues). And yes, American culture glorifies guns and the right to bear arms therefore making them far to easily accessible. China once it becomes the new super-power will be and currently is criticized for its lack of human-rights and freedom of speech. Let's all agree that none of use are perfect and be respectful to the people whose lives will never be the same without their loved-ones.

Joe Barnett
I am used to people all over the world condemning the USA for our (relative lack of) gun laws -- and whatever else happens to be the fashionable anti-American stance of the day. Yes, millions of Americans own guns. And millions of those guns are pistols and semi-automatic rifles, and even the occasional automatic rifle here and there. I will not rehash "why" the framers of the Constitution were adamant that citizens have the right to arm themselves (in fact, the framers position is/was that free people have a right to bear arms that exists in Creation -- it is not granted by the Constitution, rather it pre-exists and is protected by the Constitution), but I do question why so many in the world (and in the US) are so willing to leave themselves defenceless. Defenceless against criminal activity, and even defenceless against governmental tyranny. I will agree that if "all" private ownership of firearms (and that means those in the possession of criminals too) were eliminated, then this tragedy would most likely not have occurred. At least not with a gun. Of course it might then have occurred with a vest-bomb of the type so widely used in the Middle East. Or possibly a bomb containing chemical agents, which we also see terrorists using. Or it might have occurred with the use of a vehicle (I believe something like this was attempted recently in North Carolina or nearby). The reality is that those who wish harm on others are going to find one way or another in which to cause that harm. I have family in New Zealand, and I have visited your wonderful country. But please understand there are vast differences between a nation of 300 million and a nation of three (four?) million. New Zealand, to be sure, is dealing with her own problems of drugs and violence. Our population is 75-100 times greater and, as such, we face a far greater amount of this kind of trouble. To take away o

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