‘I Hunt, Shoot and Vote!’

Sitting behind a ute the other day I wondered what this bumper sticker is supposed to mean. Does it mean that if I vote for someone that doesn’t let him hunt and shoot willy nilly – that he will vote for someone who will?

There’s something vaguely threatening in these slogans.

If I had a bumper sticker on my car which read ‘I Embroider, Watch Coro St and Vote!’ would it have the same impact? What about … “I Morris Dance, Make Love to Rubber Chickens and Vote!”?

Who cares what your hobbies are or why they are intrinsically linked to your voting behaviour if your hobby happens to be shooting stuff? I know. It’s duck shooting season and most people want to put food on the table so why should the actions of a few lunatic loners restrict the leisure hours of everyone else?

But Jan Molenaar wasn’t a loner. It’s standard in every nutjob shooting story for reporters on the scene to claim that the madman was a loner, but how alone can you be with friends whom you text in your dying hours, a Mum, a brother, a partner and a son? This was a man with family and by all accounts, more than a few friends. Surprisingly he wasn’t on P but anyone who spends hours in the gym and eats raw eggs for breakfast has got to be mentally unstable.

But it seems that not even your nearest or dearest can pick when you’re going to go loopy so is there any point in having the gun user rather than the gun registered? The problem in Jan Molenaar’s case seems to have been his easy access to an unlimited arsenal of weapons and explosives. The fact that the police turned up at his house unarmed meant that no one who knew him thought that a stash of guns and bombs ‘enough to blow the house of its foundations’ might be more than a bit of weekend fun and that perhaps someone might want to notify the authorities. Jan Molenaar wouldn’t have been on the police radar for having guns because he wasn’t a licensed holder of one anyway. Easy.

Before 1983 every gun in New Zealand was registered to a particular license holder i.e. the guns not the people needed the license. Every gun picked up in a crime could be traced back to its owner – a fast trail of accountability for police to work on and a real incentive for gun owners to report stolen guns and notify authorities on their sale. Not so now. In Napier, front-line police were left to play eeny meenie miney mo from a veritable catalogue of possible weapons that might have been in the house while simultaneously being shot at.

Given that customs officials estimate that over a million unregistered guns, some off-loaded from foreign vessels have found their way, into the country and the army in a genius attempt to gather revenue appear to have upgraded their weaponry in the late eighties and sold all the old gear (specifically designed for killing people one would imagine) at public auction, it’s a wonder the police show up for breakfast unarmed.

It’s one big unregistered gun garage sale out there. After the Port Arthur massacre where 35 Australians were murdered by a lone gunman the Australian government got serious about gun laws. They confiscated, destroyed or bought back over 700,000 weapons effectively taking them out of circulation in a population of just over 12 million people. They prohibited the guns designed to kill in quick succession (pump action rifles among them) and made gun registration to licensed holders obligatory and only possible after a thorough vetting by police. Their gun suicide and homicide rates have plunged and they’ve been mass murder free for over a decade.

Read carefully for I will write this only once. The Aussies are doing it better. Pass it on.

The idea that we all have to start arming ourselves to the teeth is the acceptance that we have lost all faith in the law and those that uphold it and it’s every man for himself. I’m thinking of what kind of stickers I could ride around town with.

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