Guns Girls and Money - The Real Thing

If you’ve been watching any kids playing on the x-box lately you will know that life really is all about the Guns, the Girls and the Money. You might wonder how healthy it all is, as you watch a real 14 year old breaking and entering a virtual house with a virtual gun and taking anything he pleases, (the girl and the money), solely because he’s the one carrying the gun.

I know. It’s just a game. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

Except that I can’t help but think that it’s actually… people with guns that kill people. I mean when was the last time you heard someone go on a fatal rampage taking out random victims with… a leaf-blower?

When has a kid ever had a bad day at band practice somewhere deep in the Southern States of America and gone on a spree of mayhem and murder killing his classmates with… a clarinet?

Nope – guns are definitely the weapon of choice if you are serious about killing someone.

Bank robbers don’t show up for work armed with a pair of chopsticks and the police don’t retaliate with bags of marbles – guns may be used for lots of legitimate purposes but they also happen to be really good for intimidating and killing other people.

And it turns out we do have a bit of a gun problem in New Zealand and indeed in the North. Last week the police had to deal with 2 armed offender call-outs, close down State Highway one and put 2 schools in lock-down in the space of 4 hours in Whangarei alone. Expensive, not a good look for the tourists and scary for the kids. Fortunately no bystanders were killed in either incident. However, given that a ‘small picturesque town’ in Germany is dealing with the fallout of a teenager, armed with a hand gun, shooting 13 innocent people, and Alabama lost 10 victims to a mad gunmen last week, I’m beginning to think we got off rather lightly.

Which was why I was surprised to find in my Wilkinson’s Sport promotional flyer – a full back page of hand guns that were guaranteed to be ‘high precision’ that I could pick up for less than it would cost me to buy an x-box. It turns out I wouldn’t need a license for them because they are only ‘air’ guns. This felt slightly reassuring until I realised that I couldn’t tell the difference between the ones advertised and the ones that I see on every cop show. So I rang the firearms licensing division of the police to ask how they did it when they get called to armed incidents. “We don’t.” came the unsettling answer. “It’s very difficult to tell them apart – especially at a distance.”

Whoa. Let me get this straight. Any idiot over the age of 18 can buy one of these things over the counter (and possibly give it to even younger kids – it’s what happens with alcohol after all) and once they have one in their hands – even firearms experts find it difficult to gauge if they are the real thing or not?” “That’s right.” “And this is legal?” “That’s right.”

“How dangerous are these things?” I asked. “The undercover policeman (Don Wilkinson, killed last year) was shot with a high powered air rifle.” “I see.” “He wasn’t wearing his vest.” “So, unless you’re wearing a bullet-proof vest these air-guns are potentially lethal?” “If they get you in the right (wrong!) place they certainly are.”

Whether or not these guns are ‘air guns’ or not seems largely irrelevant. The police certainly can’t afford to try and distinguish between them in tense armed situations.

The woman fatally shot in Whangarei was armed with nothing more than an air rifle. Look how that worked out for her- the outcome was the same as if it had been real.

Why should the licensing be different?

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