What would Obama’s ‘common sense’ gun laws look like? Well, for starters, President Obama tried to take heavy duty weapons from police.
President Obama has cited the country’s gun laws as a model for the United States, calling Australia a nation “like ours.” On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has said the Australian approach is “worth considering.”
The New York Times posted an article Friday pushing for an Australian buyback only two days after the mass shooting in San Bernardino. Vox posted an article yesterday suggesting we give it a try.
The Australian buyback was spurred by a Tasmanian terrorist who killed 35 people in a cafe in 1996. Mass shootings were rare in Australia.
Australia bought back 650,000 guns and followed it up with a ban of those guns – so-called assault rifles – automatic and semi-automatic rifles – and pump-action shotguns. The buyback came with strict licensing rules and a national gun registry.
The licensing required applicants to demonstrate a “genuine need” for a particular type of gun and take a firearm safety course.
The New York Times quotes a much-often quoted 2010 preliminary study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University which states that the rate of gun suicides per 100,000 people dropped 65 percent from 1995 to 2006, and the rate of gun homicides fell 59 percent.
The study is only a discussion paper of preliminary research. The authors say that any citing of the study should “account for its previsionary character.”
The study suggests that 200 firearm deaths per year, mostly suicides, would be averted in a population the size of Australia’s. The researchers did not study how many people died because they couldn’t defend themselves.
The Federalist noted in October that at the same time Australia was banning guns and experiencing a decline in gun homicides, America was more than doubling how many firearms it manufactured and seeing a nearly identical drop in gun homicides.
Australia tried to claim that removing 20% of the firearms and imposing strict gun laws led to a drop of 74% in suicide rates and 50% in homicide rates.
The authors of the study themselves point out that there is a question as to whether “it is reasonable to suggest that a withdrawal of about 20 per cent of the stock of firearms could have plausibly led to drops of about 74 per cent in the firearm suicide rate, and perhaps 35 to 50 per cent in firearm homicide rates. It should be noted that the standard errors on these estimates are fairly large, so that estimates of the declines in firearm homicide rates are usually not statistically significantly distinguishable from no effect.”
It’s not reasonable. To believe that you would have to believe people bent on killing themselves or someone else didn’t find a way.
The Federalist pointed out that suicides and murder have not “plummeted” in the years after the gun ban. The murder rate overall is not down in Australia, only serious crime saw a consistent decline post-ban but that changed quickly.
According to the Australian government’s own statistics, a number of serious crimes peaked in the years after the ban. Manslaughter, sexual assault, kidnapping, armed robbery, and unarmed robbery all saw peaks in the years following the ban, and most remain near or above pre-ban rates.
According to data from the U.S. Justice Department, violent crime fell nearly 72 percent between 1993 and 2011 while guns were being sold at far greater rates. This more likely suggests guns are a deterrent against criminals.
As far as suicides, Lifeline Australia reports that overall suicides are at a ten-year high. The Australian suicide prevention organization claims suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians 15 to 44 years old, the Federalist reported.
For every study they think is gospel, there is another that proves they are wrong.
A 2007 report, “Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference?” by Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran similarly concluded that the buyback program did not have a significant long-term effect on the Australian homicide rates.
Wang-Sheng Lee and Sandy Suardi concluded their 2008 report on the matter with the statement, “There is little evidence to suggest that [the Australian mandatory gun-buyback program] had any significant effects on firearm homicides.”
“Although gun buybacks appear to be a logical and sensible policy that helps to placate the public’s fears,” the reported continued, “the evidence so far suggests that in the Australian context, the high expenditure incurred to fund the 1996 gun buyback has not translated into any tangible reductions in terms of firearm deaths.”
The Australian gun confiscation would never work here for a whole host of reasons. We have over 300 million guns in the US and the only way they are going to confiscate 20% of them as Australia did is by force and violence. Mostly though, it’s because we have a Second Amendment.