Columbine Victim's Father Injects Himself in New Zealand's Gun Debate

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

The Columbine massacre was an unfortunate marker in American history. It really seems to have sparked the modern mass shooting epidemic in many ways. Numerous mass murderers were found to have pretty much deified the killers, referring to them as martyrs.

It was a terrible massacre and is still one of the bloodier school massacres.

Another bloody massacre wasn't American at all. It happened in Christchurch, New Zealand. In response to the shooting, the nation basically banned semi-automatic firearms across the board. Some are still in private hands but only a few hundred people in the entire nation have a license to shoot them.

For now, at least.

As we've noted previously, there's an effort underway to examine New Zealand's gun laws and possibly repeal the semi-auto ban.

Which brings us back to Columbine, strangely. It seems the father of one of those slain that day wants to warn New Zealand.

Fifteen-year-old Daniel Mauser was one of those killed in the school’s library.

Daniel’s father, Tom, has spent the last 25 years advocating for gun control in America and told The Front Page that it’s important New Zealand remain vigilant when it comes to firearms.

Three of the guns used by his son’s murderers were obtained through loopholes in Colorado legislation. And while the exact technicality adopted by Harris and Klebold cannot be applied in New Zealand, Mauser said everything should be done to give less opportunity to those who want to exploit the law.

“So often what killers do is they find loopholes in our laws. And if you’re going to give them an opening, they’re going to take it. And I think we have to do all we can to close those loopholes,” he said.

Using loopholes is also what [the Christchurch killer] did to make his weapons more deadly on March 15.

While [he] was not entitled to own military-style semi-automatic firearms with his standard firearms licence, he was able to legally acquire both the rifles and the large-capacity magazines separately.

Not having an E endorsement meant it was illegal for him to put those large-capacity magazines into his semi-automatic rifles. But he was able to do so anyway.

Except the Christchurch killer broke the gun control laws on the books. That's not a loophole, it's a violation of existing law.

The Columbine killers also broke the law, having someone else buy the gun for them. That's a straw purchase. It's not a loophole, it's flat-out illegal.

New Zealand, however, isn't Colorado.

Prior to Christchurch, there hadn't been a mass murder by firearm in New Zealand since 1997. From 1990 to 1997, there were six total, and the one previous to that was way back in 1951. In other words, with a brief exception during the 1990s, New Zealand didn't have a lot of mass shootings, even with relatively ready access to semi-automatic firearms.

They've had one since Christchurch, though. The killer used a pump-action shotgun, which is kind of the point here.

You see, while I get that Mauser is still shaken by his son's murder, the truth is that a bad guy doesn't need a semi-automatic to murder a bunch of people. That's especially true in a society like New Zealand where they're not especially known for their gun culture. There aren't likely to be many people who can fight back.

Mauser, however, is like many other survivors of those killed in mass murders. He's looking to blame someone or something and anti-gunners were ready to provide someone he could blame.

Let's remember a few things that Mauser neglects to mention in his discussion of New Zealand's gun laws.

First, Columbine happened smack dab in the middle of the era when the Assault Weapon Ban was in effect. In fact, the killers didn't use AR-15s or anything of the sort. One weapon used by them was a pistol-caliber carbine, as well as a couple of handguns and a couple of different shotguns. Again, they were also too young to obtain the firearms legally, so they got them illegally.

Gun laws failed in Columbine. They failed in Christchurch. They fail time and time again.

So Mauser needs to wake up to that fact and recognize that the two people responsible for his boy's murder are dead and the world is a better place because they're dead. It's not because of guns, so he do well to stay out of New Zealand's discussion here. He clearly doesn't understand the topic he's spent a quarter of a century discussing.