You don’t need a gun to be a dangerous psycopath

Following the shooting of 4 people in Napier by an man with 18 guns and no firearms licence, 60 minutes has managed to buy a gun without a licence, very easily.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. No-one knows how many guns are actually in NZ, but estimates are generally over a million. With only around 230,000 people holding gun licences, the reality is that many of these guns are owned by unlicenced people already. When you are talking those sorts of numbers, there are bound to be a few people willing to sell to an unlicenced buyer.

In the country at least, people don’t generally get a licence to buy a gun. They get a licence to buy ammunition for the guns they already have.

But is this really as bad as some sectors of the media might imply?

New Zealand’s violent crime rate is over double that of America, with Auckland having a comparable violent crime rate to Washington. But gun crime is only a small fraction of this. Because guns aren’t the problem.

Anything is a weapon. I have been working on the farm today, and as I write this am wearing a sheath knife on my belt. That is highly lethal (I kill sheep with it), but I can buy that wherever I like with no licence at all. And if I couldn’t buy it, I could easily make one with a chunk of steel and an angle grinder.

You can kill a lot more people with a car than a gun, and you don’t even need a driver’s licence to buy a car. Or you could use an axe, a machete, a kitchen knife, a chainsaw – the average home is a formidable arsenal of lethal weapons.

But despite being well armed we don’t all go around killing people – because we aren’t all violent nutcases.

Violent crime is not about the availability of weapons. It’s about what makes people violent nutcases.

We can only solve violent crime by addressing the causes of violence: family situations, drug addictions, mental health, violence in the media, and so on. We must empower parents to actually discipline children when they are young so the police don’t have to do it later.

There is a lot we can do. But restricting a few tools won’t do a thing.

Smacking with a wooden spoon

It is encouraging that John Boscowan (ACT MP) is introducing a private members bill to modify Section 59 of the Crimes Act to allow light smacking again. However we have yet to see the details of his proposed amendment. David Farrar has suggested he base it on the Borrows amendment, as this was originally supported by National so should gain National’s support again.

The Borrows amendment would allow physical discipline unless:

  1. It causes or contributes materially to harm that is more than transitory and trifling; or
  2. Any weapon, tool or other implement is used; or
  3. It is inflicted by any means that is cruel, degrading or terrifying.

Point 1 makes good sense. It ensures you cannot beat your children then get off prosecution by saying it was “discipline”. Point 3 also makes some sense, however it would provide a lot of scope for prosecution lawyers to call virtually anything “degrading” (he was smacked on the bottom, bottoms are private parts, that was degrading etc).

However what about point 2? Now I know as soon as I criticise that point I will immediately be labelled as advocating “beating children” by some people, but as they wouldn’t listen to anything I said on the issue anyway I’m not concerned about that. For the rest of us, what need is there for point 2, when you already have point 1?

If no more than “transitory and trifling” effects are produced, what difference does it make whether a hand or a wooden spoon was used? homerstranglesbart1

In fact, it is quite possible to beat a child to death with your bare hands. You don’t need a weapon to inflict major injuries. Whether an implement is used has absolutely nothing to do with preventing child abuse, and is actually a distraction from the real issue.

It also opens up a new issue – what is an implement? Is a ring an implement if a child is smacked with an open hand but accidentally injured by a ring? What about if the parent happened to be wearing a soft glove? What about a thick leather glove?

Let’s not go there. The issue is whether harm is caused that is more than “transitory and trifling”. Forget about whether an implement is used – that is completely irrelevant and just another point of dispute.

I am not writing this to promote disciplining with a wooden spoon, a strap, or any other implement. That should be unnecessary, in my opinion. But I also know some people will disagree and I am not arrogant enough to force my views on them.

My concern is that the government should not be regulating activities (such as methods of discipline), and instead should be concerned with real crime (whether or not the child is abused).

Let’s keep our laws simple and to the point.

Child dropped from bridge – blame politicians

A man has dropped his 4 year old daughter to her death from a bridge in Australia. So who do people blame?

The roading authorities. Because there weren’t any safety barriers stopping him.

That is ridiculous. If someone is wicked enough to want to kill their daughter, they’ll figure out a way to do it. If there are barriers on that bridge they’ll just do it somewhere else. You can’t expect the government to prevent every problem. Why do people have to find someone other than the perpetrator to blame whenever something like this happens?

No, this girl died because her father is a sick idiot. That is all.

Children forced into adoption by gay couple

Two young children are to be adopted by a gay couple, despite the protests of their grandparents.

The devastated grandparents were told they would never see the youngsters again unless they dropped their opposition.

Right, this is completely wrong on so many levels. Certainly I don’t like the idea of gay adoption. But the biggest issue is

Why is the State dictating who raises the children at all?

This should be the decision of their family. The State has no business taking children away from a loving family, full stop.

KG at Crusader Rabbit asks “Time for insurrection?“. I don’t know if they are serious or not. But taking people’s children away is serious business, and some otherwise law-abiding people will feel forced into violence to protect them, especially in the heat of the moment. Policies like this could certainly lead to civil unrest, if not armed revolt. Hopefully our government can have the sense to step back and not provoke people into that.

America, guns, and Campbell Live

According to Campbell Live, Americans are panic-buying guns in the wake of Obama’s election. Business is up over 400% in some stores. Obama campaigned in part on tightening America’s gun laws, so this is completely understandable. I’d probably be doing exactly the same if our laws were about to be tightened (still further) here.

But how does Campbell Live illustrate what this is about? Using a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting, calling for more restrictions to stop such events because guns are bad. Well pardon me, I thought that shooting occurred because guns were restricted on campus so no-one was able to stop the shooter. Virginia Tech is the perfect illustration of why America should NOT be tightening the gun laws. There are so many guns in circulation there that the criminals have no trouble obtaining them, so restricting guns just leaves their law-abiding victims defenceless. In New Zealand, with far more restrictive laws than the USA, criminals have no problem obtaining high-powered weapons. Think how much easier it would be in America.

Look out world, arguably the most powerful man in the world is now a socialist. We can expect a lot to change in the next four years.

Capital punishment

Following the shocking Nia Glassie case, and a similar case in the UK, there has been some discussion on the blogs about whether we should bring back capital punishment. Few people have dared suggest this controversial idea in their posts (except for MK at Crusader Rabbit), but plenty of commenters have suggested it.

Back in the early ’90s, the Christian Heritage party (whose policy was to bring back capital punishment for murder) put out an excellent brochure on it, analysing the issue from a Christian perspective, which I will reproduce in part here (skipping only those bits that directly relate to CHP policy). The issue was analysed in detail in this brochure and I think it would be a good contribution to the debate today.

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CAPITAL PUNISHMENT – IS IT BIBLICAL?

There is no doubt that Capital Punishment is an emotive, controversial subject. Many Christians are confused on this issue. Love, grace and mercy are often emphasised without due recognition of justice and the task of the State to uphold all that is good. …

Is Capital Punishment Biblical?

In Genesis 9:6 the Bible says:

“Whoever sheds man’s blood By man his blood shall be shed For in the image of God He made man.”

It is not without significance that this verse should come after the flood. According to Genesis 6:13 the main cause of God deciding to judge the world by sending the flood was because “the earth was filled with violence”. This verse, then, is God’s remedy for violence.

Essentially it is teaching that capital punishment is the just and right punishment for murder. The verse gives a reason why such a heavy sentence should be given, namely, that murder is an attack on the image of God in which we are made. For this reason it is set apart from all other crimes in its seriousness.

We should also note that this verse is not restricted to Israel; it falls outside the Mosaic law and its supporting rationale is of abiding significance: each new life continues to be made in the image of God.

In the New Testament, Jesus says in Matthew 5:17,18:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfil. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law…”

Jesus essentially reaffirms the law. He does not pit the law against the grace He was ushering in. Rather He shows the full significance and extent of the law. Thus we should not be surprised to find in Romans 13 a reference to capital punishment where Paul explains the task and function of the State.

He essentially argues that the State is to act on God’s behalf in promoting good and suppressing evil. He says of the State:

“But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.”
(Romans 13:4)

In this context the Bible everywhere uses ‘the sword’ as a symbol of death and judgement. Thus, it is teaching that the State is to avenge all evil, on God’s behalf, even to the point of using the sword.

The Evidence Required

It is important to also observe scripture’s teaching on the standards of evidence required before conviction. Both in the Old and New Testaments, such a sentence could not be carried out unless it be on the testimony of two or more eye witnesses. This is to ensure that no innocent person is executed. …

In practical terms this means that Arthur Allan Thomas and Lindy Chamberlain could not have received death sentences as they were convicted on circumstantial and forensic evidence. However David Gray, in Aramoana, who killed many of his victims in front of many witnesses, would have been liable to the death penalty. Most people see the justice in that.

Important Distinctions:

Many Christians get confused on two issues.

  1. Grace versus Law
    Some people pit the wrathful God of the Old Testament against the love and grace of Jesus in the New Testament.

    This is, in fact, an ancient heresy. The Bible is clear that God is the same “yesterday, today and forever”. Thus when God judged nations in the Old Testament for shedding innocent blood (e.g. abortion), sexual promiscuity and violence, He is just as likely to do so in our times! The fact that He has not, only proves He is merciful.

    The coming of Christ does not mean that law is totally done away with. Neither does the existence of grace and mercy mean that a Government is wrong to insist upon certain standards in society. In fact the very opposite is true. The Government must restrain evil, if the gospel is to spread and be heard (1 Timothy 2:1-7)! If God cannot ignore evil, neither must we. He even sacrificed His own Son in order to satisfy His own holy and just requirements and allow us to live.

    When the thief, who was under the sentence of death with Christ, repented and believed, Jesus said that he would be in paradise with Him that very day. But the thief, while eternally forgiven, still had to pay for his crime. It would make mockery of the civil law if belief in Christ allowed one to be pardoned. The same is true for convicted murderers. They may be sentenced to death, but be eternally saved. They certainly have more opportunity to repent and be saved than they gave their victim.

  2. Personal responsibility versus State responsibility
    Some Christians are against the death penalty as violating the spirit of Christianity and the example of Christ.

    However, this is often based on a misunderstanding between personal responsibility and the God-given task of the State. As Christians we must not murder, but ‘love our enemies’ and ‘turn the other cheek’. But the State is given the task of suppressing evil and promoting good; to act as a minister of wrath on God’s behalf (Romans 13:1-4). God has ordained it to do what we as individuals cannot do. This is the only way to understand the Bible which sometimes commands us not to kill, but in other passages gives mankind the right to execute evil doers. Such state executions lift them out of the sphere of personal revenge and hatred, and places them in the realm of justice and the preservation of the lives of others. When Jesus dealt with the woman caught in adultery in John 8, He did not let the woman go free. He told them to stone her, if they were without sin! Clearly, Jesus was dealing with their hypocrisy. But He never said that the law was now null and void. He upheld it! When finally his prosecutors withdrew, He dealt with her on a personal level and forgave her sin, something that only Christ as Saviour could do. This is not to suggest that capital punishment should apply to adultery. We reserve this punishment for murder as the only crime sanctional outside the Mosaic law.

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What do you think of this? Is capital punishment biblical? Is it applicable today? Would it help reduce our violent crime rate? I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts.

NZ Abortion Law

It may surprise many readers, but abortion is actually a serious crime in New Zealand. The Crimes Act 1961 states that anyone carrying out an abortion may be imprisoned for up to 14 years. This is perfectly consistent with law throughout much of history, as abortion has generally been a crime. It was also a crime in our former Offences Against The Person Act 1866, a copy of the same British law from 1861 (read it here) – in this law abortion was punishable by “penal servitude for life”. Even back in the old Jewish law, anyone who caused an abortion had to pay the father whatever he demanded as compensation (Exodus 21:22).

Let me stress this – abortion is, and always has been, a serious crime.

However, subsequent to 1961, abortion has been allowed under very limited circumstances, under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, which also added section 187A to the Crimes Act.

  • Any abortion must be signed off by 2 certifying consultants
  • Abortion is only allowed if:
    • Continuing the pregnancy would result in serious danger to the life, or to the physical or mental health, of the mother.
    • The child is likely to be severely handicapped.
    • The child is the result of incest or rape.
  • Abortion is not allowed after 20 weeks gestation except to save the life of the mother or prevent “serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health”.
  • The woman MUST be advised of her right to seek counselling from any appropriate person or agency.
  • It is illegal for any woman to procure her own miscarriage.

The intent of this law was obviously to allow abortion only under specific severe circumstances, where it is believed to be the lesser of two evils. Abortion is still illegal, however abortion practitioners have an immunity from prosecution when conducting an abortion under certain circumstances.

However despite this, we now effectively have abortion on demand, and one of the highest abortion rates in the world. This is because the excuse of “mental health” is being used as a catch-all reason for abortion. I understand around 98% of NZ abortions are for the reason of “mental health”.

This practice is probably illegal. Right to Life has taken the Abortion Supervisory Committee to court over this, and earlier this year Justice Millar ruled that, in his own words:

There is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants. Indeed, the Committee itself has stated that the law is being used more liberally than Parliament intended.

This decision is being appealed by the Crown (so Right to Life is paying for the Crown’s legal costs through their taxes, then has to come up with their own legal costs too… but that’s another issue). But if it is upheld, this could cause a major shakeup in our abortion system.

Just ensuring that the current law was administered correctly, and abortion was only provided where it would actually prevent great harm to the mother, would probably dramatically decrease NZ’s abortion rate. This can be achieved with little or no change to current law. That is not to say we can’t do better, I will address that later. But even within the current law, if applied correctly, we should not have abortion on demand. Abortion is a serious crime.

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