Gun Control in the U.S. and Australia

There is an interesting article over at The Unshackled this afternoon about the results of Australia’s gun control laws.

It is often claimed that there have been no mass shootings in Australia since John Howard brought in tougher regulations in 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre. Except that isn’t true, unless you change the definition of “mass shooting” to fit the story you want to tell.

Here is the graph I found interesting:

From the graph, which covers all gun deaths per 100,000 population, Australia’s gun death rate was already in decline a decade before the laws passed and, apart from a drop after 1996, the gun laws have probably made no long term difference.

In the U.S. there was a drop from 15 deaths per 100,000 in 1992 to 10 in 1999 where it has stayed at since.

The biggest cause of gun deaths in the United States is actually black on black gang related deaths in inner city areas. No amount of  gun control legislation will fix that problem, which is an ugly mix of long term poverty, poor education and poor public housing policies.




Gun Laws Do Make A Difference

Australia sometimes gets dragged into America’s perennial gun law debates and the claim is often made that our laws made no difference to homicide rates. Well here are the figures and they are pretty impressive.

From The Land:

Deputy Premier Troy Grant says no changes are flagged for NSW gun laws

April 21, 2016, 11 a.m.



Figures from the University of Sydney's database show a drop in gun-related deaths since 1996.

 Figures from the University of Sydney’s database show a drop in gun-related deaths since 1996.

TENSION over Australia’s gun legacy is palpable in NSW as the 20-year anniversary of the debate’s horrific catalyst rolls closer.

But while groups such as The Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers (SFF) and The Greens argue over the merit of the 1996 reforms – and whether further restrictions will protect or vilify law-abiding residents – Deputy Premier Troy Grant says government’s focus is not whether possession laws should tightened or loosened.

It is keeping illegal weapons out of the hands of hardened criminals.

The 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur Massacre has thrust gun reform back into the national spotlight, Mr Grant said his government had no plans to tamper with the strength of the NSW Firearms Act when it came to gun ownership and licensing.

“Legal gun owners in NSW already undergo stringent but necessary checks to ensure the safe use and storage of their firearms,” Mr Grant said.

Deputy Premier Troy Grant.

 Deputy Premier Troy Grant.

Mr Grant’s real concern is illegal firearms.

Reforms passed last October mean a maximum penalty of 14 years’ prison now applies to a range of gun offences, including relating to unauthorised possession, use, supply, or acquisition of a prohibited firearm or pistol.

It is also illegal to have digital blueprints that allow firearms to be manufactured using 3D printers.

Halting this trade and lessening the statutory burden on recreational and sporting shooters, farmers, and legal gun owners has been a key plank of the argument put forward by SFF MP Robert Brown, both in recent weeks and throughout his time in parliament.
A recent Australian Crime Commission report conservatively estimated there were 250,000 long barrel guns and 10,000 handguns on the nation’s the illegal firearms market.

This month he appeared on the SBS forum Insight to claim the 1996 reforms pushed through by John Howard cast legitimate shooters as “criminals in waiting” while making it hard for them to obtain certain licenses.

An oft-quoted counterpoint has come from the NSW Greens – led by upper house MP David Shoebridege on the issue – who points out Australia has not seen a massacre since the National Firearms Agreement came into play.

Mr Shoebridge has also advocated for a five-gun limit to be introduced in NSW for each “good reason” for owning a firearm, after which point a “separate and extraordinary reason for owning each additional gun” should be made.