The ‘othering’ of a minority group is as old as society.
Throughout the ages groups have been picked on, singled out (‘othered’) and marginalized, stigmatized for their differences, invariably to deflect attention from some other flaw in society.
Licensed firearm owners have long been the subject of this ‘othering’ process. A process which has been used relentlessly and with great effect by the news media, who have without analysis or rationale leapt on the bandwagon initially inspired by our central government.
Let’s go back three years or so, to the immediate aftermath of the mass-murders in Christchurch on the dreadful day in March 2019. Within days, our Prime Minister was quoted as saying, “…the gun lobby will not dilute the planned crackdown on firearms following the Christchurch mosque massacre…’There is resolve and Cabinet has already made its decisions’, she said at Parliament yesterday.” (Young, 2019, p. 3).
Within 24 hours of the massacre, an MP was heard to indicate that the government had to be seen to do something, adding that whatever it did would not prevent another such incident.
The government duly did – it rapidly enacted a ban on centrefire semi-automatic rifles, and magazines with a capacity of more than ten cartridges. In so doing, it included a multitude of 19th century pump, lever, semi-auto and even a few bolt action rimfire rifles whose magazine capacity exceeded 10, and also included a handful of historic century- old centrefire rifles too.
Of course, as is common for such sweeping laws, only the law abiding complied. Gang leaders indicated they would not comply, despite threats from the then Minister of Police, “Hand in MSSAs or face jail….” (Cheng, 2019a), quoting the Police Minister).
Guilt by association is what this is called, and the fact that a licensed firearm owner was convicted for the mass murders enabled the news media to, without any justification at all, happily link all licensed firearm owners with crime, violence and gangs.
Ask yourself, where have you seen a newspaper article or heard or watched a news story about firearm-armed violence, where the storyline indicated that an unlicensed firearm user committed the offence?
This tends to link all firearm users (I am referring to those licensed for firearm ownership) with all kinds of mayhem involving firearms).
It’s time it stopped!
Cheng, D. (2019a), “Hand in MSSAs or face jail”. Otago Daily Times, 02/04/2019, (pp. 1 & 4). Forsyth, C.I.H., (2022), Firearms in the New Zealand community: A study of place, socio-economic considerations and urban-rural contrasts. PhD thesis (in preparation).
Young, A. (2019), “Swift gun reform justified; tackling social media a long haul”. Week in Politics. Opinion, in Otago Daily Times, 06 April 2019, p. 27