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Standard Deviations: When it comes to guns, maybe New Zealand will get it right

By Mark Saal standard-Examiner - | Mar 24, 2019


Go figure, more senseless gun deaths.

Nine days ago, a 28-year-old Australian man used a small arsenal of firearms to murder 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the wake of this unimaginable horror, prime minister Jacinda Adern referred to it as her country’s “darkest of days.”

Here in America? We just call it “Friday.”

Why? Because every day, in the United States, guns take the lives of almost twice that number. Every. Single. Day.

That’s right, sports fans. Here comes another anti-gun column …

As mass shootings in the U.S. have become commonplace, we’ve settled into a fairly predictable routine following such tragedies:

1. Somebody gets hold of a gun/guns and shoots a whole bunch of people.

2. We all mourn the loss of life and wring our hands, wondering aloud how something so horrific could happen.

3. We do absolutely nothing about it, other than the obligatory thoughts-and-prayers for the victims and their families — all the while holding our collective breath, hoping against hope that was our last mass shooting.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Except this time it happened in New Zealand, a place where the gun lobby doesn’t have such a stranglehold on common sense.

Here in the good old U.S. of A., when one of these gun-wielding psychos shoots a bunch of teenagers, we do nothing. When he shoots a bunch of church-going Christians, we do nothing. When he shoots a bunch of gays, we do nothing. And when he shoots a bunch of country music fans, we do nothing.

(Anybody else detecting the pattern here?)

Heck, even when he shoots a bunch of 6- and 7-year-olds — in the head, at point-blank range no less — we still do nothing. So what makes you think we could muster anything more than a half-hearted “thoughts-and-prayers” response for 50 dead Muslims in a country halfway around the world?

It’s time to fess up to the saddest truth of all: America loves her guns. Even more than she loves her Americans.

You know that one guy who applies for a job, and when the interviewer asks him what he’d say is his greatest attribute he replies, “I’m a people person”? Well, we’re definitely not “people people” here in America. We’re more like “gun people.”

Ah, but New Zealand isn’t America. Politicians in New Zealand are determined to do more than simply throw up their hands and admit that a few unfortunate massacres are the price you pay to worship at the altar of the almighty firearm. 

I gotta admit, this Adern woman is rapidly becoming my new hero. In a recent speech she said that the shooter was clearly seeking attention — he broadcast part of the massacre on Facebook — so she’s not about to oblige him. Speaking before parliament, Adern said of the cowardly terrorist:

“He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety and that is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist, but he will, when I speak, be nameless, and to others I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing — not even his name.”

Instead, Adern would have us speak names like Haji-Daoud Nabi, who reportedly greeted the gunman with a loving “Hello, brother” just before he was killed. Or Mian Naeem Rashid, who bravely charged the gunman but was shot and later died.

Those are the names to remember in this tragedy, not some white supremacist who actually thought a gun could make him feel less insignificant.

Now, I realize that here in Utah many gun owners will dismiss this column as just more anti-gun rhetoric. They’ll say I’ve gotten predictable in my firearm rants, that I need to get a new shtick, that it’s getting old.

And I couldn’t agree more. Because if gun owners are just half as tired of hearing me as I am of hearing about more innocent people shot to death, they must be positively apoplectic.

Of course, the one glimmer of hope here is that while we in America continue down the more-guns-is-the-answer path, New Zealand seems poised to try a different approach.

I suppose only time will tell which country gets it right.


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