My Time in Papua New Guinea - Would I Own a Gun or Not?


Would I Own a Gun?

In 1990 I experienced the fear of home invasion that can affect everyday life.

The time I spent in Papua new Guinea was fear filled for the last couple of years I spent there.

Our house was 2 levels but built on a hill. There was a laundry and a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor at the front. My 15 year old son used this bedroom, it gave him a grown up feeling of some independence. . On the upper level the lounge and other 2 bedrooms were at the front and on a second level, while the kitchen and dining area at the rear were on the hill side and were on a first level entry.

We were all asleep one night when we were woken. A gang tried to break into our home; first they cut the fencing and lured the 3 guard dogs out of the property. Only one stayed, but poor old thing just lay on the front porch with his paws covering his head.

Then they proceeded to try to break into the house. Fortunately all of the windows had cast iron bars and the doors had cast iron outer grills. On finding that they could not find an easy way in they then started shooting through the windows with shotguns.

While shots were being fired my ex-husband ran to get our 11 year old daughter and I went down the stairs to my son’s bedroom I crawled along the floor, my heart pounding at the thought of what I might find. Luckily none of the bullets had hit him and I found him terrified and under the covers, I had to get him out of bed, down onto the floor so that we could crawl across the hall and up the stairs to the upper level. Several shots were fired through his bedroom windows which ran along most of one wall and floor to ceiling. So I was extremely relieved to find him unharmed.

Most standalone houses occupied by expatriates in Papua New Guinea had a ‘Safe’ room, where you could lock yourself in until help arrived. Ours was the main bedroom and this had a cast iron grill in front of the bedroom door. We locked ourselves in there and while the gunshots were still hitting all around the house, we phoned the police (who took 4 hours to travel 10 minute drive to reach our house)

We were lucky in the fact that the company my ex-husband worked for ran its own security patrol; they had 6 armed vehicles patrolling the streets. Each expatriate employee had a radio to be able to reach the security centre by. They arrived within 4 minutes of receiving the call.

The following day we were moved into a secure compound. My son gathered up the shells, there were 47 in total. That was they day I decided to return home to England alone with my children.

Would I own a gun… yes most definitely in circumstances like this.

© Rosemary Sadler December 2011

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Comments 57 comments

Sunnie Day 5 years ago

My Dear Rosemary,

How horrific was that situation to go through. I don't think I would ever be the same..I can see why you would choose to carry a gun..I would think that is how it is in the inner cities here in the US..Many can attest to gang violence as they live in fear everyday..Thank you so much for sharing..I will be linking yours as well..Thank you for sharing..I thank God your family was safe and made it home

Take care,


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Sunnie

It took a long while to get over. My daughter would not go to bed for about 3 months, she slept on the sofa with me beside her.

What is the world coming to when people have to ak themselves these questions

Thank you for linking

Nat Amaral profile image

Nat Amaral 5 years ago from BC Canada

I wouldn't blame you. In this situation, you need to protect yourself and families by any means necessary. Those idiot cops should have been there much, MUCH sooner, and your case is proof that even they're not always reliable. I had once carried a knife for protection. I'm very glad that you and you're family are alright.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Nat. Nice to meet you

We had decided not to have a gun in the house before this situation because of the children and their many friends who often stayed over. But now if I were in that situation again I would definitely have one.

But luckily there is no need for one where we are now, thankfully.

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Like I wrote in a comment to Sunnie's hub, I have a 45 automatic and a shotgun and know how to use them. I will use them if I need to and in the State I live in, if you are in fear for your life and use one to protect yourself or your family, they will not arrest you. It is called self-defense and we all have a right to it. I keep trigger guards on them and they can not be fired until the guards are taken off with a key. They are safe for my grandchildren to be around.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Becky

It is self defense but were you to shoot an unarmed person it would be dificult to prve self defense.

The trigger guards are an excellent idea

Thank you for you thoughts

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

If I am in fear for my life, they would be armed with something. I do not fear if there is nothing to be afraid of.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

I'm with you now Becky

bethperry profile image

bethperry 5 years ago from Tennesee

My goodness, what a moving story. I'm glad you all came out unharmed! And I agree with you about having a gun to protect you and your loved ones.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi again Beth

Yes if I lived in an area where I felt I need a gun to protect my family I would have one now.

Luckily I no longer feel the need for one where I am now.

Thank you for dropping by

writer20 profile image

writer20 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

Wow! I don't blame you at all for owning a gun. Good news you feel safe now. vote up and awesome which you deserve.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi writer20 I didn't own a gun, never owned one, but if I had to go back and do it again I would have. I did have a couple of boat flares, but they would have made such a mess...

yes I feel quite safe now thankyou

Thank you for your vote.

resspenser profile image

resspenser 5 years ago from South Carolina

Good grief! That was an exciting hub! I'm glad you feel safe, but I think I'd get prepared.

thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

Wow, that sounded like a bad situation. Gangs don't give a crap about anyone, even themselves at times. I agree, having a gun at the right time can save your life. That safe room is a very smart idea, very smart. Better safe then sorry I always say. You know you have my votes Rosemay. I am glad you got out of there. I have heard of all the violence there on tv. A close call none the less. Stay safe and best wishes.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi resspenser Nice to meet you.

Yes safe now thank you, this happened back in 1990. I have every intention of staying where I am now and staying safe.

Thank you for dropping by and I will pop along and read your hubs in a while.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Ricky

Yes it was very scary at the time but the safe room was very reassuring. It would have been a lot worse without that.

I think the violence there gets worse as the years go by. When we first went there they would break into your house, steal food from the fridge and leave, it is a far cry from that now.

You know how much I appreciate your continued support. Thank you for your wishes

Take care and stay warm

50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Rosmary, I carry a gun cuz a cops to heavy and when you need a cop right now they are only minutes away.....

Trigger locks are a bad idea, think break in and where is the key!!! much to learn on the topic, peace Dusty

Sueswan 5 years ago

Hi Rosemay,

I don't own a gun but I certainly would under the circumstances you described.

What a terrifying experience that must have been for you and your family.

Voted up and awesome.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Dusty

Thank you for taking the time to pop over. I like your little joke Lol

The police do not usually carry guns in New Zealand unless they think there is a need to carry for a specific risk and even then they have to seek permission from the District Commissioned Officer. Only the Armed Offender Squad carry them in the frontline response vehicles.

There are debates going on now for all police to carry a hip firearm but the government are rejecting this and stating that they are to be kept in a locked metal box in the trunk.

Thank goodness I don't feel the need to learn how to use a gun.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Sue it was terrifying yes but I have never felt the need for such protection since.

We are extremely lucky, when we read about all the problems in the USA with firearms it is scary indeed.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Rosemary, In the past i would never consider owning a gun, i now feel differently. When my home was invaded by a mentally ill man, i was defenseless. He didn't attempt to hurt me but he could have. The criminals have them, so should we. Thank you for sharing your story. I felt terror for your family.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Ruby

I remember ypour story of the man that came into your home. You were lucky, it could have been a totally different story.

A woman especially on her own needs some sort of protection for sure.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Rosemary,

My heart goes out to you and your family. Thank goodness that you have survived and thrived with such a beautiful disposition, not embittered.

The wait time hits me so close to home as it took 46 hours for the police to break up a hostage scene where a gunman killed my friend and shot me six times in 1999. After reading your and Sunnie's hubs, I honestly wonder if I am ready to think of learning to use/ thereby own a gun. I had, for so long, been unable to think of this issue, just blocking / generalizing all gun ownership as irresponsible. Time has a way of making me see the bigger picture and I thank you for sharing your story and your amazing bravery.

PS-- Did your dogs survive, I hope and pray?

Love, Maria

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Maria

A lot has happened in the 20 years since this so although the memory is still as real, other things push it to the back of the mind. And yes the dogs were fine thank you for asking. Although we had to part with them when we were moved into the secure compound. But they all went to friends who took care of them and the sweet old boy died not long after.

Your revelation came as a big shock to me, your situation must have taken an awful long time for you to deal with, if indeed you were able to. To lose your friend that way must have been extremely distressing and my heart goes out to you. I hope that the shot that hit you weren't too serious and still causing you problems.

I am devastated at this news, just what is this world coming to when we feel the need to own a gun. It seems civilisation is moving backwards.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Becky I am sorry but I denied your comment. I don't think it is a good idea to tell the world exactly where you keep your gun and the key. I would hate for some criminal to break into your place just to retrieve your gun.

Hope your OK with this.

Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

Hi Rosemay, what a terrifying ordeal for you and your family!!! And the police??? What a joke or was it a deliberate 'slow-reaction'? Thankfully the company had security and they at least got to you all in plenty of time. I'm just glad that you got to safety.

In Scotland/UK our police are very similar to New Zealand. They don't carry firearms unless they are issued with them for a specific reason. But even then, it's only usually the trained firearm squads that would get them. I do agree with the police being able to protect themselves, but at the same time, I would hate a society where everyone could own a gun - there are just too many nutters around! I can understand why American people feel the need to have firearms in their homes for protection, but it seems like a nightmare scenario that has got out of control.

Many thanks for sharing this part of your life. Voted up!

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Seeker.

Your comment on the police might hold some substance. The 'Wontok' system was very powerful. It was known that a policeman would let one of their tribe out of jail or arrest him then let him go down the street. The police force was good until they decided to oust all of the expat officers and have it run by only locals. Law enforcement went downhill from then on.

The belief in New Zealand is that if the police were to carry firearms then more of the criminals would and things would get out of control and I tend to agree with that.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

I don't want to have a gun. It's forbidden in my country. Thanks for share your experience with the gun.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Prasetio.

Back then in that situation I would have appreciated one but now I don't feel the need for one here in New Zealand.

Thank you for visiting

Ercolano profile image

Ercolano 5 years ago from Vancouver, BC

Oh my! I think we forget in our complacency that the rest of the world is a bit like we can see unfold in dramas. What a completely horrific thing to have to go through! I can only imagine how that would feel, and not even then, not really, different from fiction altogether. Did you turn this experience into a poem? Or a short story? If not, I think you definitely should, this must evoke the strangest of emotions. And, um... I just noticed that you list me as one of your favourite authors here, that was a lovely surprise to see, all I can say is that you've got good taste! Great story, as horrifying as it must have been, completely outside of the norm for my life here, but I've lived in many countries to know that things can be very scary when there isn't a great police force in place.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Ercolano

It was a horrific experience for sure and although we had lived there for many years with no problems it was never far from our minds that something bad would happen. Only a month before an expat army officer was shot and his wife and young daughter raped. So trouble was always bubbling under the surface.

I didn't write about it at all, one of those things you'd rather push to the back of your mind and try to forget it happened.

It was Sunnie's hub that provoked me to write this after all this time, and yes it brought back all the emotions of fear and sheer panic, especially fear for the children, my daughter in particular. I am just thankful that our house was secure enough to keep them out until help arrived.

Now living in this peaceful community, it does seem like another life, another world.

Pleased you think I have good taste. Lol

stars439 profile image

stars439 5 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Dear Rosemay : Thank God in Heaven you, and your family survived that attack. How wise you were to have a safe room. God Bless You. Love, and Friendship to you, and everyone you cherish.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Dear Stars, it is always so nice to see you. Yes we were very lucky and must have had an angel watching over us.

Thank you for your very kind and loving wishes. God bless you too and I hope that you and your family have a very happy and peaceful Christmas my friend.

Take care and keep warm

Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Hi Rosemay! Thanks for sharing your story. I own guns and would not hesitate to use them. I am so glad that you and your family made it out safely.

It would be wonderful to live in a world without them. Maybe someday. But not today.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Dexter

I don't blame you for having guns

But it is a poor world when we need to carry guns to protect ourselves in our own homes. It would be wonderful if we lived in a world without them. Something needs to be done, harsher sentencing. In Napier which is 40 drive from me a gunman shot and killed a police constable and injured 5 others in a 3 day siege. He was 27 months and he is out on parole after serving just 9 months.

Maybe one day the law will get its act together but unlikely in our lifetime.

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Oh Rosemay, what a Horrific story, thank God you made it through this ordeal. Yes, I too would want to be able to protect myself. Yes, we do need stronger protection and bring back the death penalty!

Ardie profile image

Ardie 5 years ago from Neverland

That was so scary to read that it almost seemed like just another tale out of any book - but it was real life. YOUR real life! I can't even begin to imagine the terror you and your family felt. You have every right to own that gun and use it to protect your family. 4 hours...that's awful! Im glad you are all safe.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi b Malin

I think when it comes down to it the death penalty will be the only way to go to decreasing crime. I know there are arguments about the odd innocent being wrongfully charged but how many innocents are being beaten, raped and murdered every day.

I'm with you on that one.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Ardie

It was terrifying and I couldn't get out of the country quick enough. I took my children back home to the UK where they would be safe. It affected them quite badly especially my daughter.

Law and order there was almost non-existant.

Thank you for dropping by

eliserenee profile image

eliserenee 5 years ago from Chicago


Thank you for this hub, I'm sorry about your experience but I'm glad you are able to share it with us. My husband and I live in an apartment building in a city where you need to watch out for yourself at night, especially. We own a Smith and Wesson handgun and we each know how to use it. I once read a book called "Armed and Female" where the author prefaced her book by telling a story of a young woman whose car broke down on the side of a rather empty road. The man who stopped to help her ended up forcing her into his trunk and drove off with her. She waited patiently until he came around to open the trunk when she pulled her handgun out of her purse and shot him twice. I hate the thought of killing another human being, but she later found out that the man was a wanted murder/rapist and she would have likely died. I live in a state that doesn't allow concealed carry, but I often wish they did. Thanks again for the Hub post.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi eliserenee

Welcome to hubpages, its nice to meet you.

Thank you sharing that story, she was lucky she was carrying a gun. He deserved to be shot

These things happen everyday, we do need to protect ourselves.

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 4 years ago from Australia

Hi Rosemay, what a horrifying event that you were lucky to escape from. The topic of gun ownership is multi faceted with no right or wrong answer. Owning a gun in Papua New Guinea is obviously different to other places around the world. The gun laws in Australia were changed after the Port Arthur massacre where the gunman used an automatic weapon. Those guns are no longer available here and gun related deaths in Australia are rare, compared to other countries. I suppose that I am lucky that I haven't as yet felt the need to own a gun, but it is horses for courses. Cheers

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Keith

I remember seeing the Port Arthur massacre on the news a few months after I arrived in new Zealand. That was shocking and all those people shot by one man. It must have been a terrifying horrific situation.

We are lucky this side of the world where crime involving guns is not common.

Charles Webb-it profile image

Charles Webb-it 4 years ago from Edmonds,WA

I wish the world was made up of rainbows and unicorns but its not...everyone should have the choice and freedom to own a gun if they wish.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

What a terrifying experience to go through. Thank goodness you had a safe room. I've always felt secure with my 2 dogs in the house but then if someone broke in with a gun I'm not too sure that we'd still feel all that secure. Four hours for the police to drive ten minutes makes me glad I live in Canada. So glad that you and your family survived this and thanks for sharing your story.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Good morning Charles

A fairytale world would be just lovely, but real life is hard and crime is forever on the increase the world over.

Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas and 2012

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Thank you for reading Susan

4 hours for the police to arrive was ample time to ensure that they would not have to arrest their own tribesmen.

New Zealand is another world all together.

Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas and 2012

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

What a terrifying experience! I am so thankful that you and your family made it through ok. Sometimes security in other countries is not what it should be. Thank God your husband's (at the time) employment had better security.I am glad you feel safe now. Wonderful hub! Voted up and interesting. Have a great day! :)

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Sheila

The police force may as well have been non-existant for all the good it does. We were lucky that the company organised its own security and I was so thankful for that. I am grateful now to be living in a safe environment.

Thank you for dropping by and the good wishes and of course your vot is much appreciated.

Enjoy the rest of your week :)

billips profile image

billips 4 years ago from Central Texas

What a dreadful experience that must have been for you all - thank goodness you were able to remain safe - there are definitely countries, and areas within other countries where safety is an issue - this is not a country where bars on the windows are common and for this reason my son-in-law keeps guns in the house and makes sure his wife knows how to use them - I feel that everyone has a right to live in peace and if this is not possible, then they have a right to protect themselves, in any way necessary - B.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Bill. It was a nightmare that still sends shivers up my spine and no doubt my son's and daughter's too. I hated those bars to begin with, felt like being in a prison but I was sure glad that we had them, they saved our lives.

It is a dreadful thing that we feel the need to own guns to protect ourselves in this day and age.

Thank you for dropping by and reading.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago

Rosemay , I believe that all men [women ] who live in areas of danger should know how to shoot and own a gun ! A lot of people think America is gun nuts , but some of us will always protect our own from harm ! What an experience this must have been !

Kamalesh050 profile image

Kamalesh050 4 years ago from Sahaganj, Dist. Hooghly, West Bengal, India

Oh what a terrifying experience! Thank God you were all safe. I don't own a gun but in a situation like this I would have definitely wanted one to protect myself and my family. Voted Up & Awesome.

Best Wishes, Kamalesh

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

ahorseback, everyone has the right to protect themselves and their family, it is just so sad and tragic that the need exists.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Kamalesh. It was indeed a terrifying experience and one I wouldn't want to go through again.

Thank goodness I don't have the need for a gun now.

Thank you for reading.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

I spent the summer of 1983 in PNG. What a wonderful experience I had. I did get sick and still don't know if it was malaria. There have been different opinions about that. Your account of this snapshot of your time there is extraordinary. Thank you for relating it so well. I will enjoy reading more of your work I am sure.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand Author

Hi Chris. Makes you see what a small world it really is, you may have been at the next table to me in a restaurant. :))

I am sorry to hear you were ill, I hope it didn't spoil your stay too much. It could have been anything, sunstroke, change of water and yes even a touch of malaria.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time there up until the last month.

I'm pleased you enjoyed r4eading this and could relate.

Thank you for the visit.

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