Notes from the desk of peace activist Polly Mann (b. Nov. 19, 1919)

Guns banned in New Zealand

During World War II my husband spent about a year on duty in Australia and his letters to me from there exacerbated my interest not only in Australia, but also New Zealand. So, the New York Times article about gun usage in New Zealand drew my attention.
The New Zealand government has banned the use (or possession) of guns. For those people still possessing them, the government would buy them at what is considered a fair price. Mike Johnson, the commander of the district’s police department, told reporters that gun owners would be paid $300,000 for 324 now-illegal guns.
This occurred as the result of a March 2019 gun attack on a mosque where 51 people were killed and several others wounded. New Zealand’s prime minister announced that semi-automatic weapons would be included in the ban. Police are also trying to seize unregistered arms.
A 2017 small arms survey estimated that there were 1.2 million guns in New Zealand, which has a population of 4.8 million people. I suspect there would be a fierce political battle in the U.S. were such a ban submitted either to Congress or to a vote of the public. New Zealand does not have a strong political pro-gun lobby or the National Rifle Association to contend with.

U.S. federal government revisits death penalty

The federal government is going to execute five people starting in December of this year, the first such event since 2003. Although the death penalty is legal in 30 states, executions called by the federal government are rare. There have been only been three since 1988. Executions are not cheapo. The average cost of one is $620,932. In 2014, following a botched execution, President Barack Obama directed the Justice Department to conduct a broad review of the process. There are now 61 inmates on death row and five are slated for execution this year.
Norway has done away with executions and it has also done away with lifetime imprisonment.There each inmate has a cell with a bathroom, television, desk and computer. Guards are encouraged to maintain friendly relations with prisoners. I wonder what it would take to convince our government to follow the Norwegian plan and eliminate executions?

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