Letters : Don't be smug

Don't be smug

The tragic shooting of school children in the United States is, as Tony Orman pointed out [Letters, Express, December 20], the result of society's downhill spiral.

In the case of the US, the peculiar twist is society is so dangerous that people need to be armed to protect themselves. Crazy, eh?

But don't be smug here in New Zealand. Remember how murders were, years and years ago, a rare happening? Now they are not even headlines, just a little bit in news in brief.

New Zealand is on a downer. Once murders were only in Auckland. Now they are anywhere - Balclutha, Ashburton and so on.

The stupid thing about knee-jerk reactions to shootings (remember John Banks as minister of police?) is that firearm restrictions hit the people who are law-abiding. Criminals and gangs will get firearms, no matter what the law.

Television has to look at itself. Programmes are rubbish and violent. People get ho-hum about violence. Young kids grow up thinking violence and killing are normal. They are tomorrow's adult citizens.



Gun controls

I noted Tony Orman's letter [Express, December 20] and agree entirely. Firearms seem to attract a hysterical reaction. Other weapons don't.

As an example, in a weekend paper of December 24, the US shootings had two full pages. On the other hand, just a paragraph in "news in brief" told of a knife-wielding man in China who stabbed 24 people. The weapon was a kitchen knife.

Do we put restrictions on the ownership of kitchen knives?

As Tony Orman pointed out, in 1994 a New Zealand police study showed that 75 per cent of murders were committed with weapons other than firearms - knives, probably softball bats and boots and fists.

There's an old saying: Guns don't kill people - people kill people.

New Zealand's firearms laws are envied by other countries. The laws recognise people act, and the fitness of the individual is gauged to own a rifle. So, too, there are irresponsible drivers.

Yes, there are idiots with firearms who shoot road signs, poach deer with spotlights on back-country roads and have no respect for others or property.

Even a car becomes a weapon in the hands of a hoon or drunken driver.

On irresponsible shooters, when is the Government going to raise penalties for irresponsible shooting?

In the US, poachers get jailed, are fined several thousand dollars, and have to do six months' community service and cannot get a firearms licence for 10 years.

Here, fines seem to be a cheap licence to poach again.



Parental neglect

In response to Dave Patterson's letter on child poverty [Express, December 18], I believe in most cases, this should be redressed as parental neglect.

I understand a benchmark for child poverty in New Zealand is, if your child goes to school hungry, they are deemed to be living in poverty.

There is zero excuse for a child to go to school hungry in this country. Weet-Bix, toast and a sandwich are cheap.

How many of these households have Sky TV, parents who smoke, drink and have a TAB account? That would make for an interesting research study.

Sure, there are damp houses, and this needs to be addressed.

There is no doubt that some families are suffering hard times in some form and need a hand up.

Mr Patterson doesn't give any solutions. Neither do I. There is no magic bullet.

But perhaps the taxpayers could throw another $20 a week to these 270,000 children's parents to ensure they don't go to school hungry.

Mr Patterson also showed his envy in commenting on Mr Key taking his family to Hawaii for a holiday. He needs a holiday too, just as the teachers go on a well-earned six-week holiday.

The rich people had the same opportunities as Mr Patterson and everyone else, but chose a different path and made some money. All power to them.

If it wasn't for them and the tax contributions that they make, the country would be in real poverty.



The Marlborough Express