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Sun Times Feature Story

Sun Times Issue 03.21.2019

A Worldwide Issue!

By Larry Blustein

Horrific Killings In New Zealand Shows That The US Is Not Alone On Gun Control

Are we watching what’s going on in New Zealand?

The attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, which left 50 people dead, has brought up the now worldwide issue on gun control.

Remember, this was deemed as one of the safest countries on earth when it came to gun safety - and for those who know the real score - believe it still is.

Two days after this tragedy, a country that this does not happen in, further illustrated its commitment in making sure that guns do not control the streets in any city in New Zealand, when the cabinet agreed “in principle” to tighten gun control. It is an issue that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been a huge proponent of since she took office.

But all the efforts that went on in the past - and will continue in the future - is going to come down to what we have in this country and many others around the world do. Is it just about guns?

“Gun control always makes it tougher to purchase weapons, there is no doubt,” said former police captain Ellis White, Jr., a seven year Hollywood resident. “But the reality of this - and we continue to preach it - if someone is sick enough to want to kill people - they will find a way to get weapons. It’s that simple, and will continue to play out that way.”

As White admits that there is so much effort - from manpower to money - to ensure that guns do not fall into the wrong hands, it continues to happen. That mosque tragedy could have been pressure cooker bombs, deadly gasses in the air system and dozens of other ways to kill someone.

We live in a society, around the globe, that has many who are mentally ill, and while gun laws are always fine, the right to protect yourself is being challenged.

“You always applaud people like Prime Minister Ardern and anyone who is in favor of limiting weapons and how to prevent them from getting on the streets,” Dania Beach resident Angela Morales pointed out. “But those who choose to own weapons - and have passed all the tests to have one - should stop being scrutinized. It’s totally up to people to protect life and property if they choose.”

Whether it’s a killing that happened in Hallandale Beach, Hollywood or any other south Florida community, the gun control debate will continue - with very strong feelings on both sides.

To further spotlight the issue, to get a gun in New Zealand, applicants must first pass a background check that considers criminal, medical, mental health and domestic violence records; provide character references; subject themselves to government interviews; pass a home security inspection; take a gun safety course; and then wait weeks or months for firearms license approval.

That almost beckons someone to look further than the gun control. Because if a country has that kind of control over who purchases a weapon, the problem goes a lot further.

“When I was on the streets as an officer, one of the things that you tend to find out quickly, if someone wants something - I do not care what it is - they will get it,” White said. “No matter where it is, you will find some mental health disorder will be present in every killing. Many of those killers would never be able to qualify to own a gun. The end result is that sickness drove them to get a weapon, and most of the time, they succeed. They are NOT thinking like you and I. Believe me.”

The alleged shooter is said to be an Australian citizen. Australia notably tightened its laws after a gunman used a semi-automatic rifle in Port Arthur to kill 35 people in 1996. Subsequent rules prohibited all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, imposed stringent licensing rules, background checks and waiting periods. A gun buyback program led to the destruction of more than 600,000 weapons.

In the end, while nations are coming up with their own ways to deal with gun control, there is a huge issue with mental health - and no matter what anyone tells you - it is the root of everything.

It is not possible to reliably tell whether someone is developing a mental health problem; however, if certain signs appear in a short space of time, it may offer clues:

• Smoking and drinking.

• Using drugs more than normal can be an early sign of a mental health issue.

• Withdrawing from people or activities they would normally enjoy.

• Sleeping or eating too much or too little.

• Feeling as if nothing matters.

• Consistently low energy.

• Displaying uncharacteristic emotions.

• Confused.

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