Guns: U.S. vs. Australia

There’s a popular fraud that since Oz (Australia) enacted their Gun Confiscation program, that things got much better there. This is usually done with very selective editing of the “facts”.

There’s a misleading study out there (often quoted) that showed "firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent” in the couple years after the ban, but it ignores longer trends, or that TOTAL homicide and suicide rates increased over that same time period. (A common way to mislead people is to compare gun murder, or gun crime, instead of all murder (or all crime). If you see that, you know they’re propagandists. Last I checked, people not only don’t want to be shot, they don’t want to be murdered at all.

Murder rates

The murder rates had been fairly flat in Australia in the 90’s, even declining softly, when in 1996 the Port Arthur Massacre happened. A 28 year old man with diminished capacity and a long history of psychiatric issues (Martin Bryant) was left a half million dollar estate, with which he travelled and later bought guns, and used them to kill 35 people (in revenge for the owners having bought a Bed and Breakfast that he and his dad wanted, and/or for attention).

Despite that year being a low for murder rates (even with the massacre), the anti-liberty fascists pounced, and instead of blaming the system for its failure, they blamed the tool and enacted one of the largest and most expensive forced gun confiscations (1) in history. 

Oz had been experiencing a slow decline in crime, suicides and murders from years before. Once the gun ban was enacted, murder and suicides had little impact (a little spike up, then continued the trend after a couple years), while violent crime either went up, or stayed flat (the U.S. experienced decreases over the same time, despite a loosening of gun controls).

After studying the first 5 years after the ban, the Australian Bureau of Criminology and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) acknowledged, “The percentage of homicides committed with a firearm continued its declining trend since 1969”, or in other words, it had no measurable impact on murders. 

So both the U.S. and Oz both dropped about 32% in murder rates in the 10 years after the ban from 1997-2007, the difference being that Oz enacted a gun ban, and America did not. But during that same time American crime was falling with violent crime -31.8%, rape -19.2%, robbery -33.2% and aggravated assault -32%, Oz had the exact opposite going on: violent crime rate rose +42.2%., robbery +6.2%, rape +29.9%, and aggravated assaults +49.2%. Guns used in robberies stayed flat all during this time and were 6.4% of robberies before the ban, and a decade after it. In Australia, it seems that criminals still have access to guns at the same rate as before (or the incentives for using one, makes up for the difficulty in acquiring one, because they’re used at the same rate). So if you’re taking anything from the data it is that gun confiscation leads to far more violent crime. 

## Accidents

Oz’s accidental gun deaths went up after the ban, so the data doesn’t support the hypothesis that gun availability increases gun accidents. Which makes sense if you assume that lower gun training/exposure increases accident probability more than lack of availability helps it. 

## Firearm offenses and availability

At least the number of offenses went down, as has availability, right? Wrong. 

Firearm offenses have gone up 5 fold in the same time they’ve dropped in the U.S. (without a ban). They’re still having lower offense counts than the U.S., but they don’t have our history, gangs, or 2,000 mile border with a 3rd world country. Their total number of guns is no lower today than it was when they did the buy back (the reported number is higher, but we can assume the illegal number is much, much higher than that). 

So what we know is that the gun ban in Australia looks like a bigger success, if you’re an ignorant rube as to what’s actually going on. 

## Suicide rates

 

Oz’s gun suicide rates continued the trend (decline) that had predated it by a decade, but the total suicide rate shot up by 10% in the next 2 years, totally destroying the hypothesis that more guns means more suicides. (You can see that in the graphs below). After that, they enacted more suicide prevention efforts and got their rate to start coming down again, but they’re still roughly the same rate as the U.S. has (despite our prevalent availability of guns, and no special national anti-suicide efforts), and they still haven’t achieved the lower numbers they had, decades before their gun confiscations.  Vox (and others) claim studies disprove what you can see on their own graph (the green trend-line that predates gun confiscation, or that it took until 2002, well after their suicide program went into effect for suicide rates to normalize).

 

Well at least it slowed their problems with mass murder, right?

Sadly, no. People started using fire and bombs instead: Quakers Hill Nursing Home Fire (21), Churchill Fire (10), Childers Palace Fire (15), Whiskey Au Go Go fire (15). And dozens dead in various mass stabbings. Douglas Crabbe drove his truck into a building and killed 5, wounded dozens. Russell Street Bombing got 23. And so on. If crazies want to kill a lot of people, then guns (even assault rifles) are not the best way to do it. So it’s better to let them draw attention to themselves (and get shot) using a gun, than let them ponder the better alternatives and come up with them. 

Conclusion

The Australian government spent $500 million in purchasing and destroying more than 631,000 guns. If you assume the U.S. could be that efficient (which is unlikely), that means it would cost $238B (or $348B if you adjust for inflation) to try that in the U.S. — all to watch our crime trends increase? Oh, and they only got about 20-40% compliance, which means they turned somewhere between 60-80% of their gun owners into felons. (In the U.S. that compliance rate means about 75M new felons to arrest). In Oz, hey may have more guns than ever)(4). So $348B would still leave 210-280M guns on the streets and in the hands of newly created criminals (since everyone that didn’t comply is now a felon). And can you imagine the consequences of going door-to-door, trying to seize midwesterners or southerners guns? (Assuming you could get a liberal judge to allow such nationwide search warrant). Think of the utopia that would break out after turning hard working Americans into prison fodder, all because it’s too hard for gun-haters to trust their neighbors with boom-sticks. 

Oz is not us, they don’t have a Constitution and 230 years of our culture. So the biggest question is how would Americans react to such unconstitutional behavior? Do you think criminals would take advantage of the lower risks for committing crimes? If you don’t, then you should take an economics and sociology class. And then there’s what the >75M new felons that wouldn’t be likely to comply (assuming we’re at least as fanatical about our guns as Australians were). How do you think they’ll react to unconstitutionally empowers ATF agents coming to their door to seize their property or liberty? Remember, one angry Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people because of government overreach in Ruby Ridge/Waco. Even if we assume only one out of every 10,000 of these resistant gun owners, is that pissed off at violating the constitution, that’s 7,500 potential new McVeighs you just created. It seems the benefits of making gun-bullies feel happy, could never outweigh those costs of those policies.  

References

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQwEnihQq8chttp://www.westernjournalism.com/watch-what-happens-when-a-nation-bans-guns/
  2. http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide/weapon.html
  3. http://thefederalist.com/2015/06/25/the-australia-gun-control-fallacy/
  4. http://louderwithcrowder.com/australian-gun-ownership-rises-gun-crime-remains-low-america-still-at-fault/
  5. http://libertyparkpress.com/the-truth-about-australias-600000-gun-confiscation/

Distortions

The Counter-balance to all these truths is articles that spin how great things are in Oz or use very specific date ranges (and lack of context) to confuse the gullible, create the “Grass is Greener” syndrome,  and mislead the people that don’t know the facts. A sampling of that kind of distortion would include: 

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