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.

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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.

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.

The morality of abortion

In my opinion, as I have stated before, the biggest issue facing this country today is abortion. Over 18,000 babies are killed every year by abortion. If we had 18,000 people killed on the roads every year there would be an outrage, but when this occurs behind closed doors we somehow manage to ignore it.

I believe abortion is murder. I don’t believe this for religious reasons, the Bible doesn’t go into detail on when life starts. Rather I believe it for scientific reasons, and my Christian faith then tells me that murder is wrong.

The key issue here is when life starts. There is only one scientific point when a new human being is formed, and that is conception. At this point the new baby has a unique genetic makeup to its mother – her immune system actually has to be repressed to ensure it doesn’t kill the baby, as it is recognised as not being part of her body. There is no other point that can be defined scientifically as when life starts.

Sometimes people say life starts at implantation (which would justify the morning-after pill, which prevents implantation, but would not allow abortion). But nothing really changes at implantation for the child, rather it just goes from floating freely to being attached to the uterus – implantation is really just a change of location. Sometimes people say life starts when the child is conscious. But life has nothing to do with consciousness – when you are asleep it isn’t ok to kill you, when you are in a coma you aren’t dead, when you wake from a coma you haven’t come back to life – you are still alive, and still a human, regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not. There are all sorts of definitions, but none stands up to scientific scrutiny. Generally these definitions are used specifically to try and accommodate abortion, rather than to genuinely work out whether or not abortion is wrong.

If a child truly is a living human from conception, and killing a human is murder, then abortion is by definition murder.

This is a terrible thought to have to deal with for most people in our society today, as many people have had abortions, and pretty well everyone knows someone who has had one. As a result many people are not willing to address the issue and even entertain the thought that a child in the womb may have rights. Most teenagers these days have been raised to think the foetus is just part of the mother’s body and she has the right to destroy it if she wishes, and many are not willing to consider the implications of if this is not true.

But we must consider the implications, because if true, this is a massive moral outrage.

Furthermore, abortion is not just a simple procedure. Generally the baby is torn to pieces with no anaesthetic, it is a terrible way to die. Abortion can also have health implications for mothers, which people aren’t generally told about in NZ.

One emerging problem with abortion is eugenics. Eugenics is the belief that some people are “inferior” (such as disabled people, black people, homosexuals, Jews or pretty well whoever you want to define as “inferior”), and it is ok to sterilise or kill them to ensure the human race as a whole is healthy. This is an idea that was popular in the early 20th century, started in America, and formed the basis for Hitler’s slaughter of the mentally ill, homosexuals, Jews and gypsies. Before the Second World War many people favoured eugenics. After the War, seeing the horrible reality of what it actually meant when put into practice, eugenics was suddenly unpopular.

But it is back. Increasingly, genetic tests are available that will allow you to determine all sorts of things about a child in the womb. At present you can detect genetic disorders such as Downs syndrome, but the tests are becoming more accurate, and can conceivably be used to determine everything from whether you have a risk of developing cancer when you are 50 to your eye colour. As a result, parents can choose to abort children that are defective.

This is eugenics all over again – find the “defective” humans and cull them. But there is little outrage, as the moral standards of Western society have declined since the War and fewer people actually recognise that this is wrong. Effectively you are saying that disabled people don’t have a right to live, and it is ok to kill them. This is exactly what Hitler was doing, the only difference is that you kill them before you can hear them scream.

For more information, check out:

MandM’s excellent series on abortion from the perspective of liberal philosophy:

Is Abortion Liberal? Part 1, Part 2, Sentience Part 1, Part 2

Klan Parenthood – abortion and eugenics in America

Pictures of what abortion is really like from CBR and Priests For Life

Risks to the mother from afterabortion.org and abortionfacts.com

What are your views on the issue? Remember abortion is already illegal in NZ, the abortions that are carried out are done through a legal loophole, and although we effectively have abortion on demand this was never the intent of NZ’s abortion law.