Deborah Coddington
Deborah Coddington

Credo

(A pre-election speech to members of an Auckland gun club.)

I don't speak to you as a member of the gun lobby, but coming from a farming background and growing up with four brothers, guns were a part of my life. We grew up firing an airgun indiscriminately around the paddocks, and graduated to 22s and the boys moved onto 303 and 4-10 shotguns. But that's about as much as I know about guns. I don't really like them and I'm not overly keen to know a lot about them. I can admire the skill with which people learn to shoot accurately, but the only trigger I pull these days is when I spray the roses.

I'm a founder member of Libertarianz, a political party set up just before the 1996 general election. We have a tough job to do. We have to change the culture. We have to persuade people that they can live their lives without Nanny State watching over them night and day.

The political essence of libertarianism is the non-initiation of force. That means every person has the right to live his life exactly as he pleases, so long as he doesn't infringe on anyone else's right to do the same. So being a libertarian means you have to be tolerant. You have to put up with things you don't like. You might abhor the things some other people do, but you don't have the right to stop them from doing them, so long as they are not hurting anyone else. You might be anti mind-altering drugs like cannabis, heroin, cocaine. You might think prostitution is immoral, on religious grounds. You might think historic buildings should be preserved. You might like to see more quality documentaries and current affairs on television. You might like to have more native bush preserved. What you don't have a right to do, is force these beliefs on anyone else. So it's a freedom issue here. Freedom to live your life how you see fit. With that freedom, of course, comes responsibility, above all, responsibility for your actions, and not demanding that someone else take care of you should everything turn to custard. So you have the right to inject heroin, snort cocaine or smoke cannabis until you're paranoid, but you don't have the right to force someone else to pay for your healthcare when your body is destroyed from this. Or to force someone else to pay you a benefit when you can not hold down, or obtain a job because of what you've done to your brain.

Now you guys sitting here, and other gun lovers in other types of clubs around the country, are right now, I should imagine, pretty alarmed that your freedom as a responsible gun collector or owner is about to be curtailed. I'm talking about the compulsory registration of firearms. I'm not going to insult you by banging on about how it won't work, will penalise legitimate owners, etc., etc.. But I just want you to think about how you feel, personally, when Nanny State arbitrarily, just because it "feels good" decides to take away your freedom. Does it make you feel angry? Good. I want you to hold that thought.

Libertarianz has written a constitution upholding the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of property and happiness. Libertarianz is the only political party that will put your freedom beyond the vote. We uphold the right to bear arms; the right to self defence because if you can't defend your life then you haven't got a right to it. In our constitution, every individual (and note the wording here, we're not, like the American Constitution, talking about "the people") every individual has the right to keep, bear and use arms and obviously this does not exclude arms for sport, hunting, collecting, etc.

This right has to be protected from the vote and that's why a Libertarianz government would protect this right in a written constitution. So the smart-asses will ask, what about bazookas, and ackack guns? I suspect these are what some of you guys are into. Are these commensurate with self-defence? Well, clearly they are beyond what one needs for self-defence but you would still have the right to keep these weapons so long as you don't impinge on anyone else's right to life or pursuit of happiness. So if you are building a nuclear arsenal in your back yard, and have a few cannons pointed at your neighbour's window and he thinks you are a threat to him, then he would be able to take an action and attempt to prove that you are an objective threat. The onus of proof will be on him, and a loser-pays system will be in place.

The objective threat test is a good one because it requires someone to make the case that a threat exists, that it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt, and because it recognises context. For instance, if you live by yourself out in the middle of the Kaimanawas then grenade launchers, flame-throwers and anti-aircraft guns are not as much as a threat as if you lived in downtown Parnell.

So in this way government, through an objective court system, is properly protecting the right of individuals to pursue their lives, so long as they don't threaten the right of others to pursue theirs.

This, I should imagine, is something that would please you. It won't please those Chardonnay socialists and café revolutionaries in Herne Bay. The Philip Alpers of this country who say things like, "I can't understand why anyone would want to own an automatic rifle" so they ban them. I don't want it, I don't like it — so no one should have one.

That hypocrisy raised its ugly head a few weeks ago when the drinking age was lowered to 18. I heard commentators on radio pontificating that it was the end of civilisation as they knew it, when I know those people drank alcohol before they were 20 years old. In other words, "I can handle it but no one else can." I bet you're guilty of this too. You probably enjoy a beer on a hot day, or a glass of whiskey but you'd have problems with Libertarianz drugs policy. We say that because each individual is the owner of his or her own body, then he or she has the right to put into that body whatever he or she desires. If you think some drugs should be banned just answer this question — who owns your body? You? Or the government? Remember the proviso, however, that each individual is responsible for paying for the health and upkeep of their own body.

Take this a bit further. If those same junkies had to work to pay for the fix, instead of using their welfare handouts — if there was no sickness benefit, dole, etc — in other words neither you nor I were forced to pay for their drugs, then do you think they'd be so cavalier with their money? I think no and if they were, then it's not money that's been coerced from others so it's not of any concern to others. It does not impinge on us unless we voluntarily want it to. By this I mean we should applaud voluntary charity.

You might have a good friend who is heavily into dope and asks for help because he's financially destitute. I should imagine most people would not turn down such a request from someone they care about, but there would be provisos, such as, get yourself off the drugs and let's work this out together. I doubt you'd turn away from such a request for help, so why do people think that other people would.

It always disgusts me how the Alliance socialists think they have a monopoly on caring. We have to be forced to give money to welfare, because we would not do it by choice. They care about the less fortunate, but nobody else does.

Let's talk about another freedom which has been taken away from us. The freedom to do what you like to your own property. Hitler knew better than to have the state own all property; he let the people own it in that they were responsible for the taxes and all the upkeep, but the state ordered what could be done with "private" property.

Right now I'm doing a story on a man called Les Harrington who lives on Great Barrier. The Auckland City Council dumped truckloads of rocks on his property, upstream from his house and business site, in his own stream. It blocked and his property flooded. He had to move into a loft above his shed, with his wife and three children. The Council then classified his property as a flood plain, so he couldn't build in it, then took him to court for living in a building for which he didn't have a building permit. He's still in that one room, with his three children one of whom is a Downs Syndrome child, and not surprisingly he's nearly going mad. He can't sell his property, he can't build on it, he has to move out of the loft, he has to pay the mortgage and he can't earn a living out of his own land, as he had hoped to when he applied to build a lodge there.

Call that freedom? Who was he hurting? Some people on Great Barrier didn't feel like having a lodge there so they objected to it. If you don't like it, ban it. If you live in Waitakere City and you don't like pink houses, ban them. If you don't like drugs, ban them. If you don't like guns, ban them. Freedom, gentlemen, doesn't come in little packages. You can't sign up for some, and reject others. You can't ask for the freedom of your choice, and stamp on the freedoms of others. Because if you do, then sooner or later someone will come along and stamp on your freedom and you should know, that as guns owners, your freedoms will be the first to be destroyed. What do fascist states do? They disarm the people.

As I said, you don't have the right to force your beliefs, your thoughts, your choices on anyone else. Just as they don't have the right to take your weapons away from you. Or me. I'm not even allowed to carry pepper spray. Some of you might remember that I put out a very controversial book on paedophiles and sex offenders. I realised that women are powerless against the strength and violence of men, despite what the feminists say. Rape Crisis opposed the right for women to carry pepper spray because they said it would be ripped off women and used against them. So we weren't even given the choice. We don't like it so let's ban it. You only have to look at the number of women around Auckland who've been killed in the past 12 months, crimes which haven't been solved because the police are too busy rounding up cannabis growers, to see that this is not a safe city. I strongly believe that if the culture changed, if we were allowed to carry a concealed gun, then the incidence of violent crimes would go down. It has in certain states in the United States and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out why.

So you have to remove the initiation of force from the equation. Libertarianz is the only party of principle so it is the only party that will guarantee your freedom. You can't say a little bit of force is okay. You can't say there should still be state welfare as a "safety net" for those who "through no fault of their own" need a "hand up". That means money will still be taken from you by force and given to those whom Nanny decides needs "a hand up". That is a degree of force and from little degrees big dictators grow. This is what Michael Joseph Savage advocated some 60 years ago, just a "safety net" and look where we are now — half the country's got a bad back and the other half's supporting them.

In my capacity as a journalist for North & South magazine I interviewed ACT MP Muriel Newman. Even Muriel, who's probably gone further than most in attacking the welfare state, still says that some money should be taken off us by force for welfare spending. Don't you see what this means? It means that politicians can't trust us to help each other by choice, so they have to force us to do it. If they don't trust us, how can we trust them? At a political debate a couple of weeks ago I heard another ACT candidate advocate compensation for property owners who own, for example, stands of native bush which the state might want to nationalise. Compensation is just giving away money that has been stolen from someone else. I would like to see that ACT candidate's reaction if his own house was stolen and given in compensation.

This, you will see by now, is a black and white issue. There is either force, or no force. Individualism or collectivism. Freedom or slavery. If politicians are comfortable with the initiation of force "but only on a little scale" as they will say, then they can not be trusted. If they are happy to point a metaphorical gun at my head and force me to support a solo parent, then they are happy to take your gun from you. So don't just think about your own freedom because if you sit back and allow freedom to be taken from someone else then rest assured that your freedom will just as easily be taken from you. And you'll only have yourselves to blame.

Epilogue: Despite this, and similar appeals from Libertarianz to the gun lobby, most of them still gave their votes to the ACT party. Where is the voice of ACT now, when Matt Robson announces he is going to tighten gun laws even more than National advocated? Silenced by the ammo of its own unprincipled howitzers.


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