For America and Americans there isn’t any, but for us in Aotearoa there is an upside. Especially when it comes to women’s health. The reality is that in America, and especially in the conservative south, many professionals working in women’s health live in fear – fear of being shot, fear of their work places being bombed, fear that their families might become targets for anti-abortion extremists. Who would choose to live like that? If enquiries from American health professionals to New zealand recruitment services are anything to go by, many have chosen to seek safer pastures.
For many decades, Aotearoa, like many smaller nations have have been the happy hunting ground where large American and European health organisations poach health professionals by offering eye watering salaries way beyond our capacity to pay. We simply don’t have those resources. As a consequence this country is critically short of medical staff in practically every field. And covid has only made thing worse with staff often working beyond the point of exhaustion. But perhaps the tables are about to be turned.
While I have the deepest sympathy for American women who have had their bodily autonomy stolen, I’m grateful that as a consequence of Roe vs Wade, many qualified and experienced health professionals are looking for alternative places where they can practice what they have been trained to do without fear of imprisonment and without fear for their safety, the safety of their families, safety in their place of work and safety for their patients. Many are seeking to make a new, safer and more balanced life for themselves and their families here in Aotearoa. We benefit by a reduction in our critical shortage of health professionals. Everyone wins (except for America and its women).
The YouTube video below is from Sunday, a weekly documentary series shown on TVNZ’s ONE channel. This episode describes the plight of American women seeking abortions in the south of America and also the plight of their health professionals. I can’t imagine living like that. I suspect this outside perspective of what America has become will be unsettling to many of its citizens, but I also suspect that those who should see it will be the last to even consider watching a foreign documentary. That’s what religious and political intolerance does.
(I have been going through the hundreds of unpublished articles that I had originally intended to post to this blog, but for many reasons I never completed. Most are being deleted as they are no longer relevant or have been said better elsewhere. A few are worthy of resuscitation, and while this article composed in August 2020 refers to a specific event, the message I intended to convey still holds true today.)
It’s really no wonder some people dream up some very imaginative scenarios based on so called reliable media sources. It only takes a minor error or oversight in reporting to give others a completely false idea.
Take for example this article from Reuters on 21 August 2020 which includes the statement “The attack led to a ban on firearms in New Zealand“. No it didn’t. This is a case of sloppy reporting by a reputable news organisation, and it’s the type of wildly inaccurate reporting that gets blown out of proportion by those living in other parts of the world, and in particular by the pro gun lobby in America.
I don’t intend this article to either an argument for or against the ownership of firearms, although I should state that I support strong gun control. I’m going to assume that the majority of those who believe in the right to bear arms are reasonable and rational beings. In the US, the courts have determined that the constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, and I have no intention to argue that.
Not only are our laws irrelevant to the situation in America, our laws do not not impinge on our freedom nor our personal safety. But first some myths that require correcting.
How many guns in New Zealand?
That question cannot be answered with any certainty. A firearms licence is required to own a gun or to use a gun without supervision, but up to now there has been no gun registration regime in this country. So what facts are known?
Best estimates of the number of guns legitimately in circulation in New Zealand is somewhere between 1,200,000 and 1,500,000 guns of all types.
There are approximately 250,000 licensed firearm owners.
The number of guns estimated to be affected by the law change was somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000. It was not possible to get a more accurate picture as guns are not registered.
Approximately 57,000 guns were handed in during the government buy-back scheme.
Not all licensed firearm owners own a gun. Many hold a license in order to be able to use a gun in the course of their employment (pest control, hunting tour guides for example) or for recreational hunting. In such case the guns may be owned by an employer or a recreational group.
The carrying of any weapon for the purpose of self defence is not lawful in this country. That applies to knives, pepper spray, bows and arrows, and baseball bats just as much as it does to guns. Even carrying a screwdriver for the purpose of self defence is illegal. The law change does not alter this.
The first mistake the pro gun lobby make is to assume that one in four Kiwis own a gun. This is patently false. They get this figure by dividing the population (5 million) by the estimated number of guns (1.25 million), completely ignoring the fact that there are only 250,000 registered gun owners. A more accurate figure is one in twenty Kiwis hold a firearms license and even fewer actually own a firearm. Those who do hold a firearms licence own many guns.
Inaccurate reporting has resulted in two distinct and contradictory perceptions by many Americans.
All guns have been confiscated and Kiwis are “defenceless” against criminals and an authoritarian government
Kiwis thumbed their noses at gun confiscation and the government’s ban has been a complete failure.
The myth that Kiwis have had their guns confiscated is widespread on the internet. Confiscation was never the intent – only specific types of guns, perhaps 5% of those in circulation were re-classified so that they could not be legally owned on a category A firearms licence, and the government offered a buy back scheme for those affected. In fact the estimated number of guns in circulation still remains about the same as before, as has been stated previously the estimated number of firearms in circulation vary by 300,000 or more.
The pro gun lobby also get the facts wrong when they refer to the “failure” of the government buyback scheme after those guns were reclassified. Remember that the number of firearms in circulation that were reclassified is unknown but estimates vary between 50,000 and 150,000.
Around 57,000 weapons were handed in during the buyback amnesty period. The reasons why the pro gun lobby argue it was a failure are based on erroneous calculations.
Few Kiwis handed in their guns: This argument assumes there was requirement for all gun owners to hand in all their guns. They compare their estimated (but wildly inaccurate) number of gun owners in the country (1.25 million) and the number of guns handed in (57 thousand). Using this calculation they claim that less than 5% of gun owners handed in their weapons and that 95% of NZ gun owners have thumbed their nose at the government. This is the stance taken by the NRA.
Few guns were handed in: Again an error based on the basis that all guns had to be handed in. They compare the estimated number of guns (1.25 million) and the number handed in (57 thousand) and conclude that less than 5% of all guns were handed in.
Their conclusion is that the citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand are openly defying draconian regulations imposed by a fascist/Marxist/authoritarian government hell bent on eliminating the last of our few remaining freedoms. This is just as false as the belief that all guns have been confiscated.
There is more than enough misinformation floating around to satisfy almost every nutcase and conspiracy theorists. When supposedly reputable sources provide “confirming” evidence through sloppy reporting we shouldn’t be very surprised.
As to the relative levels of freedom that Kiwis and Americans enjoy. Even though we don’t have guns to “protect” ourselves, I am admittedly biased and see Aotearoa as being significantly more free than America. Our gun ownership laws do not impinge on our freedoms, and in fact make this nation much safer and ensures we remain free. I do intend to look at the relative freedoms of our two nations at some time in the (hopefully not too distant) future.
As selection of Aotearoa New Zealand news items I found interesting…
Member of Parliament is provided with security escort
Sigh. Even in our relatively liberal multicultural society and perhaps because of the Christchurch massacre, white extremists seem to be more confident about expressing themselves more openly, while still hiding behind the cloak of anonymity.
Green MP (Member of Parliament) Golriz Ghahraman is being provided with a security escort any time she leave Parliament due to the nature of of online comments about her. Comments go so far as to discuss lynching. I don’t know what security is provided to legislators in other countries, but here the only other polititian to have a security escort is the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
[The above link to Statistics NZ is broken at time of publication. Instead, refer to this news release]
The large number of arrivals from across the Pacific region has given Auckland the largest Pacific Islander population of any city in the world. Almost one-quarter of Auckland’s population is now classified as Asian. This itself is a catch-all term for a wide range of peoples and cultures covering half of humanity.
But while diversity in New Zealand is greater than ever, there is a gap between the society we see around us and what is reflected on screen.
New Zealand-led research could change the way doctors treat asthma
New Zealand-led research on asthma treatment is being called a “game changer” for stopping mild asthmatics from having severe attacks, an author of the study says.
The four-country study conducted by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It involved 675 people who had been taking medication to relieve their symptoms, and divided them into three groups: one just using a reliever inhaler when they had symptom, one using preventer and reliever inhalers and one using a combined preventer-reliever inhaler only when they had symptoms.
Study co-author Richard Beasley said the third group had half the risk of a severe attack compared to using the reliever inhaler alone.