The Australia Model for Gun Control is Useless

The case of gun control advocates for the US to move to the Australia model for gun ownership is faulty at best.

By Published on October 7, 2017

In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which left dozens dead and hundreds wounded, a great number of people have laid the blame on America’s relatively lax gun laws and alleged unwillingness to adopt “common sense” gun control.

In particular, gun control advocates tell us America could eliminate mass shootings if only we followed Australia’s lead.

The Australia Model

In Australia, after a horrific mass shooting in 1996, the national government introduced a mandatory buyback program which forced gun owners to sell certain firearms (mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump action shotguns) to the state, who promptly destroyed them.

This program, which resulted in the stock of civilian firearms in the country being reduced by approximately twenty percent, was effectively large-scale gun confiscation, as gun owners would have become criminals were they to withhold their firearms from the state.

Australia and New Zealand did not have statistically different trends in mass shootings before or after 1996.

Since the introduction of these measures, Australia’s firearm homicide rates have fallen and it has yet to witness a mass shooting. Because of these “results,” Australia has been constantly cited as a successful example of gun control in action.

But the reality is much less simplistic than the narrative being promoted by gun control advocates.

Sure, there have been no mass shootings in Australia since it enacted gun control, but that hardly proves anything by itself. A 2011 study published in Justice Policy Journal compared the trends in mass shootings before and after 1996, when gun control was enacted, in Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand is Australia’s neighbor and is very similar to it socioeconomically, but unlike Australia, it retained the legal availability of guns that were banned and confiscated in Australia in 1996. It thus served as a useful control group to observe whatever effects gun control had on mass shootings.

The authors of the study found that, after taking into account difference in population size, Australia and New Zealand did not have statistically different trends in mass shootings before or after 1996. Indeed, New Zealand has not had a mass shooting since 1997, “despite the availability in that country of firearms banned in Australia.”

Well, what about firearm homicides in general? Or firearm suicides?

gunchart

via FEE.org

These questions were answered by a 2016 American Medical Association (AMA) study, which examined trends in firearm homicides and suicides before and after the adoption of gun control in Australia in 1996. The authors found no evidence of a statically significant effect of gun control on the pre-existing downward trend of the firearm homicide rate.

This is in accordance with past research. For example, the authors of a paper published in the International Journal of Criminal Justice report that, “Although the total number of published peer-reviewed studies based on time series data remains relatively small (fewer than 15 studies, at the time of writing), none of these studies has found a significant impact of the Australian legislative changes on the pre-existing downward trend in firearm homicide.”

Gun control advocates have built their entire case about Australian gun control on lazy data analysis.

The authors of the AMA study did find that the decline in firearm suicide rates accelerated in the wake of gun control, but concluded that “it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms” because the “decline in total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths were of greater magnitude.”

In other words, since non-firearm suicide rates were reduced to an even greater extent than firearm suicide rates in the wake of gun control, one cannot firmly conclude that gun control is the reason firearm suicide rates fell.

Basically, gun control advocates have built their entire case about Australian gun control on lazy data analysis, or perhaps no data analysis at all. If anything, Australia proves the complete opposite of what advocates of gun control want.

A national gun confiscation scheme which reduced the civilian firearm stock by an astounding twenty percent and nobody can seem to find any clear evidence it caused a meaningful effect on the firearm murder rate? That’s not only embarrassing, it goes against everything they believe about the nature of the relationship between guns and murder rates.

 

 

Originally published at FEE.org.

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  • GPS Daddy

    So I’m sure this comment will be loved by gun control folks. I have family in Australia. They do not live in fear like we have come to know here in the US of the next mass shooting. Maybe gun confiscation has made no impact on the statistics but it seems to me to have an impact on the fear in Australia…

    But gun confiscation in Australia cannot be done the same way as here in the US. Even if we do confiscate guns, then what guns? All semi-autos? All handguns? What about bolt-action rifles?

    Another issue are the elites among us. Will they get to keep their bodyguards with their guns? They had better not. But lets say the law is passed in a way that requires everyone, including elites and politicians, to give up their guns then how are we going to handle the following:

    1. It tends to be the liberals who want gun control but its the liberals who want open boarders. Were REALLY going to take everyone’s guns and let the criminal elements keep theirs (hint: its the criminal elements. Your not going to get them to give them up.) Australia has no land boarders with other nations… we do. That matters.
    2. Our courts have been bought many times. Look at Hillary. She should be in jail for the many crimes she has committed.. we do not have the political will do bring justice. Are we really saying were going to bring justice to those who ignore the law IF they have enough money to do so?
    3. The liberals has shown us they they are willing to put someone behind bars, ruin their business and destroy reputations for not baking a cake for a wedding. Now they want us to trust our security with them? “Give us you guns… we will protect you… but don’t go against our politically correct view or you will end up destitute and in jail.”
    4. There are other very important issues along these lines. Just not enough time to post them.

    • Andrew Mason

      Australians may not fear mass shootings like Americans, but such things mostly happen in a handful of areas in the US – outside big cities, and usually particular areas in cities, you’re pretty safe. And while it’s true that mass shootings are down since Howard imposed extreme controls on firearms, the death toll from mass events in the 2 decades since is akin to the death toll from the 2 decades prior to the controls. Those who seek to kill have simply resorted to other weapons and techniques instead – knives, blunt instruments, arson etc.

      • GPS Daddy

        You not said anything different from what I have said, Andrew. Are you from Australia?

        • Andrew Mason

          Subtly different I’d say. And yes, presently in Oz.

  • Paul

    Liberals never let facts get in the way of their agendas

  • Jim Walker

    There are other countries that outlawed guns.
    A tiny island Singapore is one. No one is allowed to own or possess guns.
    If you are found with one, imprisonment and caning.
    If you use one, death penalty.
    The Government is elected by the people. There is some balance of power between government and its people.
    But to outlaw guns in the US is basically an impossible task.
    However, if I may suggest, its time to ban live ammunition and replace all with rubber ones.
    Any live ammunition are to be safe stored and can only be used in hunting and target practice. All these places are to be restrictive and no one leaves with a bullet.
    There should be severe punishment and imprisonment for anyone having possession of live ammunition and even homemade ones.

    • Bryan

      Jim, if gun confiscation is a difficult task in the US, how in the world are you going to confiscate ammunition?
      Every so often during a trial of a self-defense shooting, a DA will say that the shooter should have had rubber bullets in his gun. It varies from situation to situation but usually they’ll say why didn’t you have 1, 2, or 3 rubber bullets in your gun? The attacker may have stopped before you shot that next real bullet and the person would not be dead or maimed.
      Here are a few of the problems with that scenario:
      1) You felt threatened enough to think your life or the life of a loved one was in mortal danger. Otherwise you wouldn’t pull the weapon in the first place. If that’s the case, then you are justified to use lethal force.
      2) While no one wants to get hit by a rubber bullet, if a person is lunging at you, no bullet is going to stop them. A real one might take the fight out of them.
      3) Those who don’t mean well tend to travel in groups. So lets say the first attacker stops after three rounds, the two rubber ones and a real one. What do you do about the second or third attackers. They’re getting real bullets until you reload, if the next magazine is loaded the same way.
      There are a lot of factors that need to be considered with any sort of rule/law concerning firearms. In fact there are so many factors that it might simply be easier to work on improving the character of the people in the nation generally rather then trying to legislate everybody into good behavior.

      • Jim Walker

        Bryan
        I know many want their guns, but ammunition can be outlawed.
        Anyone using it out of bounds will be dealt with harshly.
        You talk as if such thing will just happen tomorrow, about the DA and stuff.
        It will take years to change a nation’s mentality, but it has gotta start somewhere.

        • GPS Daddy

          Making ammunition is easy. Making gun powder is easy. Its just as easy as making alcohol. You will have to outlaw bullet casings and firing caps. The bullet and powder can be easily made. making bullet casing is much more difficult but certainly can be done by a small setup with the right equipment. But I suspect that outlawing ammo will have the same affects like outlawing alcohol did. Ammo will still be made but just going underground. Colorado outlawed mags over 15 rounds. Most of the state’s sheriffs said they will not enforce the law. To my knowledge no one has been charged in Colorado for possession of a mag over 15 rounds.

          I don’t think we will be able to make progress on the gun issue unless we make progress on the character issue. Trying to force gun compliance without dealing with the character issue will just make things worse, IMHO.

          • Jim Walker

            As I have said, more or less laws will tear the fabric of society.
            Outlaw ammunition is my only suggestion I can think of.
            The character issue is far more dangerous than guns and bullets.
            What do you suggest ?

          • GPS Daddy

            I can’t think of any laws that can be passed. We need men mentors to mentor young men and boys into authentic manhood. We need a right of passage of a boy into manhood. There are ministries trying to address this area. John Eldridge’s Wild at Heart ministry is one such ministry. But their 4-day retreat is $2,500. Ouch.

            We need men to be portrayed in a good and positive light in the media verses being bafoons.

            One law we can pass is to make is a crime to transmit pornography electronically. Hold companies that do so to steep fines. Jail time if it can be proven that the company is doing it on purpose. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are all purposely providing pornography on purpose. Shame on them.

            We need to stop making money and idol in this culture. We need to start having each others backs verses stabbing each others backs. Especially in corporate America. The dog-eat-dog corporate world is very much a part of what is destroying us.

            Fear is a big part of what drives people today. Fear drives people to buy guns. Fear drives people to stab people in the back at work. Fear drives people to doing drugs and pot. Why deal with the anxiety of life when I can smoke it away with pot?

            When a shooting happens we focus on the gun and not these issues. Why? Because we do not want to bring them up. They are too sensitive. Too hard. Too close to home.

            Does this answer your question? No.

          • Jim Walker

            Hahahaa… Actually you are on the right path on how violence can be reduced and that is to replace fear of the world to fearing God.

        • Bryan

          My point with the DA stuff is that it is happening. There are some DA’s who will try to argue that in a self-defense situation where a responsibly armed person killed or maimed another person who was using lethal force to attack them, the person who killed in self-defense is in the wrong for not taking more steps to prevent the death of the attacker. Never mind the fact that the person who is in the position of killing in self-defense in the the first place was the original victim.
          I was trying to show how anything having to do with guns and ammo can get used the wrong way by people who are not looking out for anyone but themselves.
          To get back to your point about confiscating ammo: you and GPS Daddy have already gone through a few of the issues so I’ll only add a little. I think that your solution to the gun problem is creative. I just don’t think it’s possible in the real world. Theoretically it’s possible given a long enough duration and overall compliance by the population.
          Let me give some scenarios to consider: A mandate comes down from the government that it will buy back all ammunition and you can chose to receive either cash or rubber ammo in return. What ammo do you buy back, handgun, rifle, shotgun? What about muzzle loaders? What about people who make their own ammo? How long do you run the program?
          Let’s say it’s decided that all ammo is to be taken by the government (no decision yet on state or federal), and that the program will run for a year. What do you do at the end of the year? What about the people that refuse or live off the grid and don’t know about the program? Is it jail time for these persons? A fine?
          What about weapons and ammo sneaked into the country? What about LEO’s who are bribed to sell or barter ammo to the highest bidder? What about the underground as GPS mentions?
          As I said before, it would be easier to confiscate the guns than the ammo and it’d be nearly impossible to confiscate the guns in the US.

          • Jim Walker

            Thanks Bryan for having a nice open mind discussion. I’d like to hear your suggestions and solutions as well.

          • Bryan

            Aside from “putting God back in schools”, etc., one place to start is teaching logic and how to make an effective argument. Most arguments we hear today are based on faulty logic at best and outright lying at worse. Yet many of us can’t dismiss the arguments that are solely based on agenda, rhetoric, and emotion because we don’t know of any counterarguments. Instead of trying to fight emotion with truth, we’re fighting emotion with emotion (or deluded spiritualism and religiousity). This allows us to honestly evaluate an issue (and to know what the issue is) without resorting to mindless sound bytes.
            Right now the gun debate is raging about how to stop mass shootings by eliminating guns or better regulating the population that has them. But the problem isn’t the gun (or the ammo), the problem is the person who decides to use them to kill innocents and spread terror for their own self-serving reasons. As I’ve said before, if not in this thread, then in other similar ones, this is a symptom of a heart problem not a gun problem.
            So it doesn’t matter if you confiscate and destroy all of the guns in the world and return us to the technological age of knights and horses and swords and shields. If a person wants to do harm to his fellow man, he’s going to do it. In the past, some of the people who now carry out “lone-wolf” style attacks might have become dictators of a group of people and convinced them to help commit mass murder for their cause. Now they can hide in plain sight and wait for their moment.

          • Jim Walker

            “But the problem isn’t the gun (or the ammo), the problem is the person who decides to use them to kill innocents and spread terror for their own self-serving reasons. ”
            My sentiments as well.
            I’ve written in another article that the biggest problem is a person can be totally sane when he purchase the guns but after that you will never know.

    • Thomas Sharpe

      Are you suggesting that The Second Amendment pertains only to the keeping of Arms, but not Ammunition?
      That just does-not-make-sense… I suppose, given recent pronouncements by the Court, it might have a shot.
      But Really??

      • Jim Walker

        There is ammunition, rubber ones.

        • Thomas Sharpe

          What’s your plan? Have the Supreme Court rule “rubber bullets” in keeping The second amendment? LMAO

  • Natureboi

    Beware of fake news.
    Nowhere is there mentioned a “mandatory” buyback or “confiscation. It was voluntary and with amnesty.

    www(dot)sciencenewsforstudents(dot)org/article/strict-gun-laws-ended-mass-shootings-australia

    en(dot)Wikipedia(dot)org/wiki/Gun_buyback_program

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