The tragic Sydney siege is being used to make political points. But the points people are making are as opposite as the political positions held.
First: better gun control is desperately needed. How on Earth was hostage-taker Man Haron Monis able to get downtown with a shotgun? Was he licensed? Where did he get the gun? Gun laws must be stricter and strictly enforced. People with Monis' history should not have guns.
But on the other hand "open carry" is needed. That means anyone can openly carry a gun. As it is, only bad guys and nutters have guns. Monis wouldn't have lasted a minute if customers and staff were armed. Grandma would have dealt to him without spilling her latte.
Second: security laws need beefing up. It's a travesty that Monis was able to take hostages in central Sydney. There needs to be better surveillance, better monitoring and more police power. Those who are doing nothing wrong have nothing to fear. Far better to deal to suspects before they take hostages and kill innocents.
But hang on, security laws don't need beefing up. The Australian Government knew everything they needed to know about Monis. He was on bail after being charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and faced dozens of indecent and sexual assault allegations. Serious concerns were raised about him from within the Muslim community beginning in 2008. It's reported he had been on Australia's national security watchlist. The authorities' lack of knowledge was not at issue.
Third: terrorism is a real and present threat. An attack took place just across the Tasman. We aren't safe in New Zealand. The same could happen here. We should not be taking any chances. Our world has changed. Terrorists are part and parcel of modern life. Nowhere is safe.
However, Monis was not a terrorist. There was no organised terror. He was a lone madman with a shotgun. He had no organisation, no followers, and followed no one. He didn't even have a flag. Sydney's was not a terrorist attack.
Fourth: tougher immigration laws are needed. Monis was a Muslim refugee from Iran. He should never have been let in.
But then again, immigrants aren't the problem. Disturbed people with guns are. The New Zealand Raurimu and Aramoana massacres were committed by locals.
Fifth: John Key was right to strengthen our anti-terror laws. Our security is threatened. It can happen anywhere. The namby-pambies bleating about civil rights should now shut up. Sydney proved Key's point.
On the contrary, though, not one of Key's changes would have made a difference. We are trading away our privacy and freedom without any gain in public safety. A few years ago a madman with a gun was a madman with a gun. Now he's a terrorist attack justifying new and intrusive laws.
Maybe the true point is that the Sydney siege was a tragedy. And politics should be put aside. Just for a little while.
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