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.

Ubuntu 9.04 Linux is awesome!

I’ve been using Ubuntu 8.04 Linux for the past year, but installed the new 9.04 on my new computer. I could not believe how easily everything worked.

Sound works, the wireless card works, suspend works, even the webcam works, with no fiddling whatsoever! Is this really Linux?

Linux just gets better and better every year, and I can honestly say now that Ubuntu now has far fewer problems on my laptop (emachines D620) than Vista – even though it was sold with Vista! And I don’t have to worry about viruses, or deal with Vista’s horribly annoying popup windows asking me if I really want to do everything…

The winds of change are blowing. I’m not saying that suddenly everyone will suddenly switch to Linux now just because Ubuntu has made a great distribution, we won’t see that until it is readily available in stores alongside Windows, but this feels like a turning point to me.

The question is slowly changing from “Is it worth the fuss moving to Linux?”, to “Is it worth the fuss staying with Windows?”.

Well done Canonical for putting out such a well-polished free operating system.

If you like the sound of this, you can download a bootable (“live”) cd and see if it works on your computer without messing up Windows at all.

I just wish I could buy a laptop in New Zealand without being forced to pay Microsoft for Windows, when I won’t even use it. I’d much prefer to be giving that money to Canonical (who make Ubuntu).

Windows Vista is worse than I thought

I got a new laptop on Friday, my old one was playing up (thanks to Rhys at Dick Smith Riccarton for sorting out a replacement easily). It came with Vista. I use Linux, but thought I’d shrink Vista down to a small partition and keep it just in case it came in handy.

But it wouldn’t shrink. Try as I might, I could not stop the Windows partition filling half my hard drive, despite there being plenty of free space.

Worse still, with 1GB of RAM (admittedly not much for Vista but the machine was sold with this and should work as sold) I kept getting messages saying I had run out of memory and had to close programs – even with NO programs open! I don’t know what it was doing in the background using up 1GB of RAM before I even tried to do anything.

Within a few hours I had given up and wiped Vista. I can’t mess round with software that won’t work, I have a thesis to write. I pity all you poor people struggling with Vista, I suppose it might be ok with 4GB of RAM but I really shouldn’t need that to edit a text document.

So I installed Ubuntu 9.04 Linux!