Controls on nail gun hire urged after suicide

KERRY MCBRIDE
Last updated 05:00 01/08/2012

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The suicide of a Paraparaumu man has prompted a coroner to call for tighter controls on the hire of nail guns.

William McLay, 56, was found dead in his home by police on March 16, 2009. Coroner Ian Smith concluded last week that he committed suicide.

Mr McLay hired a Ramset nail gun two days before he was found by police.

In evidence presented to the inquest, it was stated that home handymen hiring powder-actuated nail guns did not require a firearms licence.

Instead, some hire companies would ensure people knew how to use the nail gun and provide written safety instructions.

Mr Smith said it was not the first time he had dealt with a fatal accident involving a nail gun.

He recommended to the Consumer Affairs Ministry that the hire of bolt and stud guns should require a licence to operate them.

"I can accept this is a difficult area to deal with, and that it would be onerous to expect a firearm licence to be issued with respect to a Ramset nail gun or something similar.

"However, I do believe that the operator or hirer of such equipment should hold a licence to operate such a machine and be required to produce it at a hire centre if attempting to hire such a piece of equipment."

Mr McLay, who was unemployed and lived alone, had a history of anxiety and depression.

He had not been on any medication since 2007.

Although he had been a casual patient at a Paraparaumu clinic, he had not regularly checked in with mental health specialists or been prescribed further medication.

The level of mental health services on the Kapiti Coast was also cause for concern, Mr Smith said.

"It is well known to me as a coroner that communication is paramount when dealing with mental health issues. It is not good enough to simply post out a letter to a patient regarding their next appointment."

Introducing a process of regular telephone and at-home contact was "not rocket science" but was "simply a process that needs to be implemented".

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- The Dominion Post

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