GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Complacency Delivers Misery


Yesterday we witnessed the best and worst in humanity in one day.

49 people murdered in Christchurch and many injured in an act of hate, while thousands of school students ignored warnings of punishment to protest our lack of progress on climate change..

Both events are connected by the complacency of New Zealand governments over many years to regulate on some serious issues in the greater public good.

As we struggle to understand the terrible events in Christchurch yesterday and what we could have done to have prevented it, we should remember that after Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and injured 23 in Port Arthur Tasmania in 1996 stricter gun laws were imposed throughout Australia banning semi-automatic and self -loading rifles .

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Why? Because, the reasoning went, it is possible to disarm an offender as he reloads a single shot rifle . It is virtually impossible to disarm someone shooting a self-loading weapon.

So the Howard government brought in a more stringent licensing system and a national buy back program of banned weapons resulted in more than 700,000 of them being surrendered and burned.

Why did we not do the same after the Aramoana tragedy ?

The answer lies in a mix of complacency and putting the political problem in the too hard basket.

There is no reason why anyone should be allowed to own assault weapons in our country . Farmers do not need them to put down sick or injured animals nor do hunters .A single shot weapon, properly licenced and controlled is all that is needed.

The same mix of complacency and ill-perceived difficulty pervades our thinking over Climate Change

The students on the protest march yesterday spoke out because they are angered at how successive governments, around the world , have dragged their feet to impose the regulations we all know could stop our planet heating up and causing misery and death for the generations who follow after us.

So what do we need to do?

We need more governance for the public good.

We need to legislate against the possession of automatic, semi-automatic and self -loading rifles and we also need to legislate more rigorously and with greater speed against all those human activities in New Zealand which significantly contribute to Climate Change.

Because if the purpose of government is not to legislate in the public good… then what good is government?

Good government requires courage and it requires our support.

Yes we have some terrible problems, but there are many things we can do to solve them – if we want to .

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


      • As far as i am aware, it is not legal to own an automatic weapon in New Zealand. (with the possible exception of some collectors???) Semi automatic (self loading) rifles are a different matter with a significant percentage of sporting rifles being of this type, some with the possibility of conversion (illegally) to fully automatic.

      • You can get gun licenses switched over from NZ to Australia and vis vis pretty easy. Don’t want to go into detail but it’s easy.

  1. Yesterday we witnessed two of the biggest news items for years, the children’s strike for the climate being for me the most hopeful, and the Christchurch mosque shootings being for me the least hopeful.

    Now I get that the shootings would dominate coverage, but where is the balance?

    Why repeat and repeat the same info on the most negative? All night long. Giving the perpetrator the oxygen they did it for (TV, radio)

    And just ignore the hope, the feel good energy of our children’s engagement (TV, radio). Once the shooting started it was just dropped. Today there isn’t even mention on the NZ Herald website.

    Martyn, you run the most intelligent blog in NZ.

    Bryan, well done for bringing the topics together.

    Let’s get balance back into the reporting and coverage. MSM stop just playing to fears.

    Jacinda, lead by shifting some (some, how much is your judgement as a leader) focus to the positive event yesterday. People are in need of hope right now and a positive internal charge. Balance is important. You were gifted some yesterday by the children.

    Everyone else, please help Jacinda and James Shaw get the moral mandate for rapid change with respect to the biggest issue we face together. 50 lives are important, significant, meaningful, worthy of focus and compassion. Let’s hope we may limit climate change to 50 lives.

    Kia kaha NZ.

  2. @ Frank… I don’t think automatics are legal here. A while ago there was discussion about the difference between a semi and a fully automatic weapon. A semi requires a device to be inserted into the mechanism of an automatic to interrupt the repudiative action. Called in America a bump-stop. A fully automatic is a simpler device than a semi .

    It has been suggested that this horrible event is somehow associated with feelings of resentment against immigration . If you stand back and look at the world, our side of the world, what leaders of which major countries stand out?
    The example set to us all is of the leader of the free world spending I think over half of it’s annual budget on fantastic ways of killing people. Hundreds, thousands, millions of people. They are obsessed with it. Military basses all over the world and wars instigated fermented threatened and fought all over the globe. Mostly with innocent victims in the firing line. This is what “normalises” the behaviour we saw in Christchurch yesterday.It’s what our governments do , or send some of our young people to do to people over there; without them threatening us in any way whatsoever.
    D J S

  3. Since all has been said about the bad now, I want to say that we were so very proud to stand among our awesome young folks yesterday as they proudly said and sung we are ready to save our planet and future in Gisborne, it was simply one of the best days of my life.

    Bryan; I am also in full agreement with this statement you made today.

    “we also need to legislate more rigorously and with greater speed against all those human activities in New Zealand which significantly contribute to Climate Change.

    Because if the purpose of government is not to legislate in the public good… then what good is government?”

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