The NZ Herald reports here that a coroner has recommended that a licence should be needed to hire nail guns – a move labeled an overreaction by DIYers.
William McLay, 56, was found dead in his Kapiti Coast home by police in March 2009. He had hired a Ramset nail gun from Hire Equip two days before his death.
In July 2012, Coroner Ian Smith concluded that Mr McLay, who was unemployed and had a history of anxiety and depression, committed suicide. The coroner has recommended to the Government that people who want to a hire nail guns be required to produce a licence to operate such equipment.
He noted that he had dealt with other cases involving the tools.
Now, Coroners inquests in New Zealand are inquisitorial; they are fact-finding exercises. They establish cause of death, and if the coroner finds that there is something we could change that would significantly reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences without other undesirable consequences, he or she may make a recommendation. In this case, Mr McLay killed himself with the nail gun. A gun, eh?! Guns are deadly, says Ian Smith. All guns should be licensed and heavily restricted. After all, just look at what happened here. Nail guns can be hired freely, and William McLay took advantage of that, hired a nail gun and committed suicide with it. Obviously the only remedy is to introduce yet another restriction, yet another control, yet another compliance cost, to the nanny/school-marm state! It is the only politically correct thing to do. Right?
If we followed Ian Smith’s recommendation and legislated to require licensing of all nail gun users, what consequences would we expect?
- Well, it would inconvenience DIYers, who would either face the compliance cost of obtaining a licence, or would no longer have the option of hiring a nail gun for their larger projects.
- For some, lacking the nail gun option might prevent them altogether from doing all but the smallest DIY projects.
- It would increase the work-load of the licensing examiners and bureaucrats, thus increasing their numbers, inflating the compliance costs and possibly forcing increases in taxes and rates.
What consequence should we not expect?
Any reduction in our suicide rates. It might, just might, reduce the likelihood of the choice of a nail gun as a suicide method, but would not prevent the seriously depressed from ending it all. There were other avenues open to McLay.
In fact, if the coroner recommended restricting access to ropes, cutlery, power tools of all sorts, streams, rivers, oceans, all bridges more than one metre above the surface, gas heaters, razor blades, rat poison, motor vehicles, ladders, petrol, LPG, pool chlorine and anything remotely capable of causing death, it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the suicide rate.
It would merely make our lives even more difficult and costly than the nanny and school-marm state zealots have so far succeeded in achieving.