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Australian Gun Control--Did it Work?

As our Congress furiously debates gun control, it's interesting to see what happened in Australia when they banned certain types of weapons in 1996.

John Howard was prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, and in the January 17th edition of the New York Times, he writes about his own experience with gun reform, following a horrific massacre in that country on April 28, 1996, when a psychologically disturbed man named Martin Bryant used a semiautomatic rifle and a semiautomatic assault weapon to kill 35 people in a murderous rampage in Tasmania. Gun ownership is extremely high in Australia, especially in that part of the country.

Howard instigated a federally financed gun buyback scheme that eventually resulted in the destruction of almost 700,000 guns, the equivalent of 40 million guns in the US. He writes: "The fundamental problem was the ready availability of high-powered weapons, which enabled people to convert their murderous impulses into mass killing.

"Certainly, shortcomings in treating mental illness and the harmful influence of violent video games and movies may have played a role. But nothing trumps easy access to a gun. It is easier to kill 10 people with a gun than with a knife.

"Today, there is a wide consensus that our 1996 reforms not only reduced the gun-related homicide rate, but also the suicide rate. The Australian Institute of Criminology found that gun-related murders and suicides fell sharply after 1996. The American Journal of Law and Economics found that our gun buyback scheme cut firearm suicides by 74 percent. In the 18 years before the 1996 reforms, Australia suffered 13 gun massacres-- each with more than four victims--causing a total of 102 deaths. There has not been a single massacre in that category since 1996."

Maybe someday soon we'll all feel it's safe to send our kids to school again.

One imagines, not owning a gun personally, that a major hurdle to gun control across the pond is that if law abiding Americans gradually lose the right to bear any arms, then criminals remain armed to the teeth.

If I could own a weapon, I would not want to give it up on that basis alone.

Over 700,000 people were killed in 6 weeks in UN mandated gun free Rwanda. Most of these killings were with garden tools. The Hutu military had all the guns and the civilian pop. Could not defend themselves. History is full of unarmed population genocides. If our founding fathers were so fundamentally aware of tyrannical gov't's, why are our current leaders so ignorant?

This is crazy BS!

Of course it worked!

If you don’t have any guns, how can you kill someone with them! What the New York Times doesn’t want you to know is that the crime rate in Great Brittan, Australia and New York City, etc., has skyrocketed!

Not only that, without guns – effective guns - you leave yourself extremely vulnerable to oppression by your government. Every place where guns have been confiscated from the people, the people are at extreme risk of loosing life and liberty.

Nothing in life is without risk. What the gun grabbing bastards want you to think is, is that they can remove risk from your lives by putting your life in their (incompetent) hands. Only de-balled ignorant fools could believe that.

If you want to reduce your risk, as much as possible, own a weapon (or two).

You are right-on Orson Green!

Take a little mind-bending tour of the history of gun control in the USA:

Americans will be at odds on this one forever...Just for the record, I am NOT against gun ownership, I live in Texas, and also quite used to seeing rifles in the back windows of pick-up trucks, especially in farming and ranching communities.

I simply do not understand why so many feel that they are entitled to semi-automatic weapons designed for one thing---firing as many rounds as quickly as possible in order to kill PEOPLE.

This argument should be about mental health and lack thereof. It should be about organized crime, gang activity, and drug cartels. It should be about one totally unbalanced young man walking into an elementary school and mowing down 20 children, all under the age of 7.

This argument should be about our basic character and those things that are important to our happiness and well-being and about prioritizing a healthy, well-balanced society.

This is about so much more than guns...Fight on ya'll, and by all means, do not let anyone pry your gun from your "cold, dead hands" and don't be duped by ideas and concepts that re-channel your passion into making this world a safer place for everyone.

"Fear is the mindkiller" and on so many levels we have given our minds over to fear. This is what is truly disturbing...

More NRA bullshit. The NRA and it's spew changed in 1976. It is now a gun manufacturing LOBBY, it's not about 2nd amendment rights- that is their 'cover story for 2nd amendment rights. Which BTW was written when we had muskets!

The compromise is tighten background checks and Ban automatic multi round clip assult rifles. Elimanate 'straw men'. We are fucking tired of it already!

And yes I own a rifle.

I wonder why banning firearms ownership did not do the same thing in Europe that the former PM says it did in Australia? From the 69 kids killed on the island in Norway in 2011 to the attack on the school in Winnenden, Germany in 2009 where 15 students and teachers were killed, Europe has had more of these than we have. Folks a lot wiser than us made sure to protect this right by putting it in our Constitution. They had seen the dangers of "standing armies" and what governments did to citizens with them. All the 2nd Amendment did was to put in writing a right which already existed as a "Natural Right" "Birthright" "God Given Right" whichever you prefer. The right to Keep and Bear Arms (just like the first 8 amendments) existed before the Ratification, independently of the Constitution. When the "Bill of Rights" was debated, the big argument was "Why do we need this? The government has no power to restrict these rights" see Federalist 84. I think we know now why governments like defenseless citizens.
When you have some spare time, study up on the fact that the government, at all levels, owes the individual no duty to protect him/her, or come and help you when you call 911. There are hundreds of court cases which affirm this. You can call 911 and tell them that a madman is chopping through your door with an axe and they can tell you "we are on our way". If they never bother to even drive by, there is no legal liability on their part. We have created a myth that a cell phone is a defense weapon and use it to call the Calvary. Do Not depend on the government to protect your family and I work for the government.
B.T.W. I am a Lifetime NRA member, NRA Instructor AND a Unknown Country subscriber.

The NRA didn't even want the two lawsuits filed that clarified the scope of the 2nd Amendment. Thanks to the Cato Institute and 2nd Amendment Foundation. By the way, Cato Inst. supports the legalization of most if not all drugs. What does all this have in common. Trust the individual. I a member of the NRA as they train a good portion of the nation's police officers, teach gun safety to cub scouts, support our Olympic shooting teams, and a lot more. 100% of NRA dues goes to educational programs NONE to political issues. That is another division that raises it's own money. Since I care about firearms safety, the NRA is the place for training. That is why I am a member.

But, I do not trust the government, with your life, your family's life or anyone else in general. I trust YOU far more, and I don't even know you.

Hurricane Katrina was the best example of the government gone rogue; from stealing citizen's weapons, seizing private property and "Quartering Troops" therein, to forcefully entering private homes and assaulting the owner's and kidnapping them. That is all documented in the various court cases. One man was kidnapped and murdered, his car and body burned by the New Orleans P.D. to cover it up. Do I trust them? All of these acts were without lawful authority: there was No "martial law" (which can't be declared if the courts are functioning) and the Louisiana State of Emergency Act allows for the arrest of persons on public property once the declaration is made. Those poor people sat at the Super-dome thinking that "the government will come and save us". Many died thinking that. Just like the Hurricane Sandy victims are.

Good comment about muskets, as the intent of the 2nd Amendment (which only highlighted a pre-existing right or as Wm. Blackstone called it (keeping and bearing arms) "The Fifth and Last Auxiliary Right of the subject..." , 1 Commentaries on the Laws of England 136. The intent was that the "people" be able, if necessary, to defend themselves, their state, city, etc. from a standing army, controlled by a despot, that might threaten them. Thus, the concept was that a citizen should be equipped with the same weapon as a foot soldier or member of the infantry. In 1787 it was a musket, in 2013 it is an AR-15. And for those who say "why not full auto then". If I made the call, that would be included in the Right. Besides for the price of the weapon and $250 federal tax (last time I checked) you can own a full auto M-16 or Thompson or your choice. Money talks, as usual.

I think that Anne Strieber has written about crime in New York.

Crime rates in Britain have not sky rocketed.

It may be decreasing, but there is controversy.

The cap of 5 reports per person has been in effect throughout the period in question, so it may change the overall numbers, but not the trends. Fudging statistics as reported in the second link may be a problem, but defenders still claim a 41% drop in violent crime since 1997.

Neither have crime rates sky rocketed in Australia.

Assaults have trended up, while homicides have gone down.

The crime rate is high in Britain and low in Australia.

As for gun control making it more likely to be ruled in tyranny, a couple of unsourced examples are not conclusive. If it were then, I can say that, given that the largest democracy, India, has restrictive gun control, then gun control helps democracy.

Overall, crime, violence, and tyranny are complex subjects. An incomplete list of factors includes economics, laws, policing, culture, and politics. Personally, I think that the patriot act, indefinite detention and further government intrusions since 9/11 are more dangerous than limiting gun magazine sizes or firing rates.

As an Australian, I can honestly say the gun buyback scheme worked.

The line used by some that crime rose as a result of the Australian gun buyback is a lie. Pure and simple bullshit.

100% fact: we haven't had any more mass shootings since the gun buyback scheme in the 90s. Neither has the government taken over people’s lives or a dictator come to power.

It was a right wing government who introduced the regulations too. The Australian prime minister of the time mentioned in the article, John Howard, was always keen to be seen as "best mates" with George W. Bush. It was not some loony fringe law that had no community support.

The rate of gun ownership in Australia was already very low compared to the USA. We just don’t seem to think we need them. The removal of the higher powered weapons didn't seem to upset many people.

As tw says, crime rates are hard to measure, but in general they have been trending down in many Western countries. Sadly though, this news doesn't sell newspapers or make riveting TV news.

There was a small but brief uptick in some crime in Australia during the 90s. But this was seen in many other Western countries too. The overall crime rate in Australia has been dropping since 1990.

Yes, the crime rate in Britain is higher than Australia. It's probably more due to economic conditions than whether or not the criminals worry about whether or not their intended victims have an automatic.

If someone is shot, it often makes the front pages of the newspapers here. I personally know people who've worked at major inner city CBD hospital ER departments in Australia and never seen a gunshot victim. Our death rate of all types from guns is less than one fifteenth than that of the USA.

I do believe that if you're keen to have a gun, you should be allowed to have one. Especially when it's seen as a part of your heritage. But like any dangerous item, it's needs to be handled in a responsible way.

If you like your guns, keep them. Keep them safe and secure.

But keeping automatic weapons away from crazy people won’t cause crime to rise or a dictator to come to power. The Australian experience clearly shows that.

Oh, and as to the NRA saying that it’s violent movies and video games that are causing the carnage – we play the same games and watch the same movies. No school shootings however.

And so the fighting goes on, and will continue to here in the U.S. I have seen no issue which inspires argumentum ad hominem, angry hand wringing, tooth bearing and that raging yet half-weeping unhinged-ness quite like this one.

Might surprise you if you learn the real reasons behind the original drafting and ratification of the second amendment!

Gun control is just symptom control. Still doesn't ask us to address why we are or choose to be so violent. Movies, games, music, it all glorifies it. We accept it and with or with out guns, it is embraced. When we stop accepting it, then we can get some where.

Gun control is just symptom control. Still doesn't ask us to address why we are or choose to be so violent. Movies, games, music, it all glorifies it. We accept it and with or with out guns, it is embraced. When we stop accepting it, then we can get some where.

USA, the land of semi-automatic weapons for all, bad medical insurance and steroid use in sports. Don't base your information about Australian on the late Charlton Heston. Keep single shot weapons to kill the rabbits, not for defence against the government.

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