Australia: Another gun control success story

In 1996 there was a gun massacre in Tasmania, Australia resulting in 35 people killed, 18 wounded at a tourist resort.  It was Australia’s worst mass murder ever, but, as we will see, it wasn’t ignored like the recent firearm bloodbaths in the U.S.  Martin Bryant walked into the Broad Arrow Café in the small coastal town of Port Arthur, finished his meal, then entered the main dining room with a satchel, took out an AR-15 assault rifle, and started the carnage.  



Down Under gets serious
with gun control

Bryant shot and killed 20 people in the resort in less than two minutes, thanks to rapid fire available in assault weapons, hitting Moh Yee Ng as he ate his soup, followed by his girlfriend and 18 more.  Then he left to try and kill as many others as possible in this small town including a woman and her two children.  Sound familiar?  Just another random shooting by a maniac—James Holmes in the Aurora, Colo. movie theatre killed 12, injuring 58 with an assault rifle.

Todd Crowell in Real Clear World reports that Bryant was a schizophrenic, which indicates that mental illness entered into the equation.  Another parallel with the James Holmes bloodshed where, if mental health data was shared among law enforcement agencies in the U.S. as it should be, Holmes would never have gotten a gun. 
A 2008 study done in the U.S. shows that local  area background checks had 27% lower rates of gun-related suicides and 22% lower rates of gun-related murders.   



Prime Minister John Howard

But the end of the Australia story is far different that that in the U.S.  As a guideline, this country has done nothing, zilch, zip since the gun slaughters that started gaining momentum with the Columbine gun butchery in Colorado in 1999.  But the conservative—yes, I said conservative—government of Prime Minister John Howard in Australia decided they had had enough.  Because that country’s constitution cannot regulate firearms, they coerced the states to do it.



Kangaroo to the rescue

Australia is a country of 22.7 million people and the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) influence is weaker than in the U.S.  Also, this group is more concerned with hunter’s rights than in this country where gun worshippers want everyone to be able to own a gun and take it anywhere they want to.  What does that say about the American gun culture where these fanatics value their weapons over human life?  This speaks to the fact that the U.S. has 31,347 firearm deaths each year.

The eventuality of Australia’s efforts in gun control resulted in “…mandatory gun licensing; registration of all firearms; an almost complete ban on all semi-automatic weapons, including pump-action shotguns.  Today Australia has a .14 rate of homicides per 100,000 population compared to the U.S. at 2.97, and 15 guns per 100,000 people, the U.S. 88.8, according to The Guardian Datablog.  They also raised taxes to buy back guns.

There are two important factors in relation to the Australian gun control situation.  First, the force behind this action wasn’t gun hating liberals like the NRA would have us think, but conservatives.  Second, Howard’s stringent position on gun control not only didn’t affect him in current elections but helped him in future elections, making him the second-longest serving prime minister in Australian history.  A fact that Democrats and some Republicans should take note of.

UPDATE
My stock answer to all comments questioning the Australian gun law post.
You are quick to come up with anti-gun control facts but short on total research that proves the1996 Australian gun law worked.  Perhaps I am a bit short-sighted for not spelling it out for gun fanatics with blinders. 
Australia’s population increases have been substantial since the passing of the law in 1996.  Its growth rate is higher than China, the U.S. and Canada.  But during the increases in population, Australian homicides per 100,000 pop. decreased from .57 in 1996 down to .1 in 2009.  There was a steady decline to .30 in 2000, .19 in 2005 to .1 in 2009.  These figures come from GunPolicy.org.

And I just uncovered another study that shows as a result of the law the firearm homicide rate fell by 59%, the firearm suicide rate dropped 65%.  The research also estimated that because of the buying back of 3,500 guns per 100,000 population, there resulted a 35 to 50% decline in the homicide rate.

26 thoughts on “Australia: Another gun control success story”

  1. FactCheck.org backs you up 100% although the data is a bit dated …

    http://www.factcheck.org/2009/05/gun-control-in-australia/

    Great piece and in light of recent events something to point people to to enlighten them. I am a gun owner, I do hunt but we MUST get a grip on this problem here in the US ….. No one needs dozens of 30 round ammo clips which have only one real purpose, killing as many Human Beings as possible.

    It's far past time we started putting some Regulation back into our not so 'well regulated militia' …. Like the Founding Fathers really intended

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  2. I don't like your response because it is WRONG! According to the Australian, I think that's your country and a great one, Institute of Criminology, homicides in Australia declined from 354 in 1996 to 282 in 2007, the latest year available. That's a decline of 25.5%.

    And as far as voting out the politicians that passed the 1996 law, that's what happens when you get a bunch of gun nuts riled up; they vote, which is your prerogative. The opposition doesn't, usually as in the USA because they have been brainwashed by the NRA.

    I am writing about Australia, not New Zealand, or is that too hard for you to understand? And speaking of diatribe, you do ramble on a lot and waste my readers' time in some of your senseless excursions into nothing.

    Jack E. Dunning
    Nasty Jack Blog

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  3. First of all 65% of New Jersey voters favor gun control over gun rights, according to a Sept. 2012 Rutgers-Eagleton Study. Another poll conducted by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 82% of all gun owners, even 74% of NRA members want some form of gun control. Next, the American people did not create today's NRA, the lunatic Wayne LaPierre did and that is precisely what is wrong with the gun culture. And it is even people like you that Michael Bloomberg is trying to protect from getting killed by loose guns…only I don't know why.

    Jack E. Dunning
    Nasty Jack Blog

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  4. Haha! I like your response. There is a study, many actually – most peer reviewed and widely accepted by those in statistical analysis. Some are mentioned here. All are rebuked by you as opposed to your so called 'reputable' source. I live here, I know gun violence is on the increase, its in the news every day – a simple google news search will reveal that.

    Australian politicians are taking the increases in gun violence very seriously…. because they are very very real. It of course finally proves what every law abiding firearm owner said back in 96… the laws will do nothing to stop criminals, and nothing rings truer than that, now.

    Speaking of politicians, you point out a conservative politician instigated these laws with no repercussions. The conservative party concerned got absolutely annihilated at the state level…. losing 'unlosable' seats hand over fist, to either the liberals, or an alternative conservative party (One Nation Party) which was even more right wing. Federally, they also suffered, and whilst they didnt lose, they saved themselves by having 4 years to spin up a counter strategy, because in 1996 they had literally just been elected. He didnt promote what he did in subsequent elections because to do so would alienate his party (a coalition between city and country conservatives) from the country vote. They called for a study to be done into the effects of the laws passed in 1996/97 and of course didnt spruke that either, as it categorically said that the effects of the laws were inconclusive in all areas, except suicide rates (which I had covered earlier).

    You have no understanding of Australian politics or culture. But, you did get one thing right, you are shortsighted.

    Oh yeah, of course you don't talk about New Zealand, because its the living-proof antithesis of your biased diatribe.

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  5. But Americans do not want more firearms regulation. Why do you think there is very little outrage whenever the NRA stops some gun control bill from passing in congress? Because the American people created the NRA and use it as a force against bullshit legislation. It is why no matter how hard that little crypto facist Michael Bloomturd tries he will never be able to pass his draconian bills, except the ones regarding muslims and soda pop. Because at the end of the day that is where the root of all evil lies right? Muslims drinking 20 oz pepsis.

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  6. All you have is “coulda,” “shoulda” and there is no study that shows the drop is anything but better regulation. Further, the drop in gun violence was much more significant after the law. I'm not talking about New Zealand, I'm talking about Australia.

    End of conversation.

    Jack E. Dunning
    Nasty Jack Blog

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  7. Yeah I read the correction to the originally flawed article. As mentioned by several and demonstrated by the government's Institute of Criminology, the rate was dropping prior to 1996… and statistical analysis by many qualified people have failed to conclusively link any drop in the rate of homicides (thats the 'gun homicide rate per 100,000' you refer to) to the firearms laws introduced in 1996. The rate prior to 1996 was already so low, the drop could easily have been attributed to other initiatives, better policing, improved sentancing standards beign a deterrant, and so on. The only thing you can draw a conclusion from, is the drop in firearms suicides… however it must also be considered that there was also a significant (but less pronounced) drop in suicides by other methods at the same time, indicating it wasnt just the laws, but better suicide prevention schemes and initiatives.

    Why dont you look at New Zealand? Also had a mass shooting around the same time as Australia. It doesnt have registration of firearms, and it allows law abiding citizens to have semi-autos. It hasnt had a mass shooting, in a longer period than Australia. Both Australia and New Zealand have very similar cultures – neither is anything like the US.

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  8. If you would take the time to read my UPDATE, above, you would see that the gun homicide rate per 100,000 pop. has dropped significantly since the law was passed. Apparently you gun worshippers just don't get it in Down Under either.

    Jack E. Dunning
    Nasty Jack Blog

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  9. If you were right, which is terribly far-fetched, first of all, the gun rights faction couldn't hold a candle to the opposition in Vietnam, Syria or Libya. Second, do the gun nuts really want it to come to this in the U.S. when it is clear the American public wants more gun regulation? See my blog on Oct. 1, for more on that.

    Jack E. Dunning
    Nasty Jack Blog

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  10. So basically, what you're saying is, despite facts from the Australian (government) Institute for Criminology casting doubts on your assertions, you're saying that those facts, arent as good as your “facts”.

    I live in Australia. I have firearms. Australia now has more LEGAL firearms than it did in 1996, plus all the illegal ones that werent handed in, or have since been imported (for example 220 glocks that were imported through the postal system – of which only the last 8 or so were captured when the cops stumbled upon the import racket). So, the removal of firearms from law abiding citizens did nothing to reduce gun crime.

    Victorian police admit their registry database is not 100% secure, and cannot guarantee that criminals are not using information retrieved from that system, as a 'shopping list' as to where to obtain firearms in targetted thefts. Similarly, in NSW, gun owners are targetted – their firearms are not taken in an opportunistic way, and often they are the only thing taken… indicating they were targetted.

    The only good things to come out of the 1996 gun laws, was licensing, safety course requirements, and safe storage requirements. The rest was a waste of time and costs my state millions of dollars just to manage. Millions of dollars that could put cops on the street targetting the criminals with no license, no safe storage, and no registered firearms.

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  11. The people of Vietnam defeated the most advanced military power in the world with little more than aged soviet weaponry and rations of rice. The people of Syria and Libya overthrew powerful military regimes that were armed with tanks, jets, and SCUDs. The Iraqi mujahadeen bled the most sophisticated military power for over 10 years using homemade explosives and Saddam's old machine guns. Afghanistan, with it's ragtag army of farmers and peasants armed with old weaponry and the odd US supplied stinger missiles, defeated the second superpower. The list goes on and on. As Yeltsin once said, “you can build a throne out of spears, but you cant sit on it for long.”

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  12. I can just see you now fighting the great American Dictator with their Lockheed Martin F35 Lightning II and there you are with your assault rife firing away just like wacky Wayne LaPierre taught you to. And the ideas I write about on gun control aren't all mine; in several instances like Canada and Australia, I have illustrated how it can work. And gun nuts do most certainly value their guns over human life or they would agree to some of the simplest regulations to stop the daily shootings and regular massacres.

    Jack E. Dunning
    Nasty Jack Blog

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  13. It makes me laugh to see the gun control supporters saying disingenuous things like anti-gun control people “value guns over human life” when that is not the issue. We value guns over government control, nothing more – What good is it to stay alive when a government runs your life? Without guns, there is no way to punish a bad dictator – You tell me what your solution is for the countries that have dictators passing gun control laws, and outfitting their police and military with automatic weapons.

    Your ideas on gun control only work in an ideal world – Bad people will always have guns, even if they are illegal. Taking away guns does not solve homicide – it still happens, and will continue to happen as long as there are people on earth.

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  14. http://www.gunsandcrime.org/auresult.html
    Here is another article that looks at gun crime and suicide rates in Australia over time. The summary, “The homicide rates provide no support for a proposition that the ban/buyback has helped. However, they also do not indicate that the ban/buyback caused anything, good or bad.”
    These give numbers as a rate/population, where the other charts I referenced state only raw numbers. While there is a decline, statistical analysis shows that the ban may not have been a significant factor in that decline. Public policy as far reaching as gun prohibitions need to have a substantial factual basis for their justification. This proof is simply not there.
    Again, reasonable restrictions (such as preventing felons from owning guns) are perfectly acceptable. Gun bans go way too far without any logical justification.

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  15. Is that your response to anyone that disagreea with you? You call us all “gun fanatics” simply because we bring up facts and statistics that you ignore flat out and then counter with more confirmation bias. Gun control is does not cause a lower violence rate. Lets take another example, kennesaw georgia. A town that mandated that everyone own a firearm and carry it in public. Kennesaw's violence rate is so low that, like switzerland, it does not even register. And you like to blame firearms for suicides. That is fucking ridiculous. There are thousands of ways to end your own life that do not involve firearms. Had you done some more thorough research you would find that removing firearms does not lower suicide rates. People who cant get a gun simply use a bottle of pills or rope.

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  16. That's generous of you, Jack, to say he was WRONG.

    But Dan B. did not misleadingly cite a statistic of homicides–you did, and attributed it to him. Perhaps Dan B.'s cite should have included the topic paragraph of the Time article:

    “But these changes have done nothing to reduce gun-related deaths, according to Samara McPhedran, a University of Sydney academic and coauthor of a soon-to-be-published paper that reviews a selection of previous studies on the effects of the 1996 legislation. The conclusions of these studies were 'all over the place,' says McPhedran. But by pulling back and looking purely at the statistics, the answer 'is there in black and white,' she says. 'The hypothesis that the removal of a large number of firearms owned by civilians [would lead to fewer gun-related deaths] is not borne out by the evidence.'”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1736501,00.html#ixzz2781jIOm8

    Had he done that, it would have been hard for you to misconstrue for a snarky reply, right? But then, what's an firearms-hating progressive to do to document his bigotry?

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  17. You know buddy i own several guns, but i would never say that i “worship” them. It is fine that you dont like guns, but when you try and restrict the rights of your fellow citizens simply because you feel you know whats best for them then that makes you a fascist. What do you have to say about Switzerland? A country where every male citizen must keep and bear automatic assault rifles after military service? The country is basically swimming in firearms! The government sponsors annual firearms matches and pays for ammunition. The crime rate in switzerland? Not even registering. Get off your high horse and quit being such a damn busybody.

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  18. http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.aspx
    Actually if you look at the graphs of homicides, (link above) the decline actually started before the ban, and the rate of decline seems to remain stable without much change in 1996.
    There was a sharp dip in 2005, but it has mostly recovered.
    Even more interesting is the graph that shows “percentage of homicides involving a firearm”. While there definitely is a decline, and it may have accelerated very slightly after the gun ban, the rate has been declining since the early 80's. And the current rate is about the same as the low point around 1948. While the ban may have added to the rate of decline, the data is far from obvious or conclusive, and making the statement that the ban has been a success story has yet to be proven.
    Your statement that America values guns over lives is still unsupported in my opinion. Gun laws have not been proven to save lives, In 2004, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 253 journal articles, 99 books and 43 government publications evaluating 80 gun-control measures. Researchers could not identify a single regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide or accidents. And defensive gun use definitely has saved some lives. So where is the balance? Obviously you feel that the correct balance lies in tighter control, believing the opposite does not necessarily make someone out to be a hater of life.
    Some gun laws are rational, but in my opinion Australia's laws go too far.
    Thanks for the discussion, I appreciate your response.

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  19. Actually Australia's firearms homicide rate had been in decline since about 1991, and the rate in 1997 was the highest since 1992, excepting the Port Arthur Massacre. Tasmania required licensing to own the firearm Bryant used -he used a false license to obtain the firearms, so the laws failed right there. Bryant killed those 20 people in around 2 minutes, firing from the hip. Almost every one was a head or neck shot. He injured 12 – mostly people where bullets had passed through a target and went on to strike them. Here's a man, with an IQ under 70, using the same firearm as used in Colorado… who gets a freakishly high headshot count, in a situation of close contact not unlike the theatre. Yet a PhD student with more weapons – including a shotgun – fails to get even CLOSE to the same killed:injured ratio. Seems strange, doesnt it? Anyway, as for the government response…. Howard had an agenda against guns. Always has. Openly admits it, and, in his autobiography 'Lazarus' admits that he capitalised on the moment to fulfill that agenda to its maximum effect.

    Today, we stand at 50 driveby shootings in Sydney alone, in the last 2 months. Almost one driveby, every day this year, on average, between the states of Queensland and New South Wales. Back in 1996, a driveby was only something we heard of happening in impoverished ghettos of America, and 3rd world countries. Never in Australia.

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  20. WRONG. Prior to the Australia gun laws, homicides per 100,000 population were as high as .55. There was a steady decline after that. But, you are half-right. Australians are less crime prone than Americans; however, more important, they value human life over guns, unlike gun worshippers in the U.S.

    Jack E. Dunning
    Nasty Jack Blog

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  21. In order to make a judgement on Australia's gun laws and their effect, one needs to know what Australia's homicide rate was before the gun laws went into effect. It turns out that the very restrictive laws seem to not have statistically affected gun murders in Australia. They were low before the laws and remained low after the laws. There have been no more massacres since the law was passed, but that is annecdotal at best. Incidentally, Bryant got his guns illegally in the first place, so lax laws were not to blame.
    Here is an article from Time that goes into some research on the matter.
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1736501,00.html
    It seems like Australians are just less crime-prone than Americans. But more gun laws are probably not a good answer to the problem.

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