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Thursday, January 17, 2013

If Australia Can Ban Assault Weapons...

Posted by on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM

In 1996, a conservative leader in Australia successfully led a ban on assault weapons in response to a massacre of 35 people. The result?

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.

Few Australians would deny that their country is safer today as a consequence of gun control.

If you missed them yesterday, here are the details of President Obama's gun-control plan.


Comments (29) RSS

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NotSean 1
The argument that guns are too prevalent in America for a ban to ever be effective... holds some water for me. It echoes the fruitless war om drugs.

Did Australia have the same degree of ownership as does America? By volume, was it easier to eliminate them? Were the guns already being tracked by registration?

I know I should google it myself. of y'all might know the answers faster.

Posted by NotSean on January 17, 2013 at 7:01 AM · Report this
Australia's gun laws go far beyond anything Obama is proposing. According to Wikipedia all privately owned firearms are subject to licensing and registration requirements and private ownership of handguns is highly restricted. In the US most states don't even require a license to buy a handgun. Nothing in Obama's plan would change that. Even if fully implemented, I don't think Obama's agenda will reduce gun violence to any significant degree.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on January 17, 2013 at 7:07 AM · Report this
Big Sven 3
Well of course if you have fewer guns, you will have fewer gun deaths. The relevant question is whether the 1996 law caused Australians to kill each other less. Unfortunately, it did not:….

I support the President's initiatives, because gun owners need to take more responsibility in the sale and storage of lethal killing devices. And I happen to think assault rifles are only remotely useful in Mad Max type situations. But assault rifles make up a small fraction of the guns out there in circulation (say 4m out of 300m) and are not disproportionately used in the commission of crime, being so much harder to conceal than handguns and carbines.

We need to reduce the rate of accidental gun death, and keep guns out of the hands of those with excluding conditions. But the Aussie data says that people will find a way to kill each other.
Posted by Big Sven on January 17, 2013 at 7:23 AM · Report this
Bento 4
@3 - am I missing something here? It looks to me like the general trend of Australians killing Australians went down after 1996.

Regardless, I love living somewhere that I can be reasonably confident that, if i beep my horn at someone for cutting me off in traffic, they most likely won't blow my head off.
Posted by Bento on January 17, 2013 at 7:30 AM · Report this
Original Andrew 5
Unfortunately, what AmeriKKKa has that Austraila doesn't have is AmeriKKKans.
Posted by Original Andrew on January 17, 2013 at 7:32 AM · Report this
Lew Siffer 6
Yeah and they ban video games too cuz they are "too violent". fuck em.
Posted by Lew Siffer on January 17, 2013 at 7:45 AM · Report this
Lew Siffer 7
Yeah and they ban video games also cuz they are "too violent". fuck em.
Posted by Lew Siffer on January 17, 2013 at 7:45 AM · Report this
Rotten666 8
I think a key point is that a conservative took the lead on the issue in Australia. If Sandy Point happened during Bush's tenure, right wing gun nuts might have been persuaded to accept new restriction on gun ownership. But because the no good muslim commie is pushing for new restrictions, it just confirms their most ill-informed fears.
Posted by Rotten666 on January 17, 2013 at 7:57 AM · Report this
Australia doesn't have the second amendment. Nor do they have the first. There's some pretty ridiculous censorship bullshit. But if that's really the kind of place you'd like, immigration is always an option.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 17, 2013 at 8:17 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 10

Read: "Almost 700,000 guns were bought back and destroyed — the equivalent of 40 million guns in the United States."

The rule of holes is to stop digging.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on January 17, 2013 at 8:40 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 11
People commit suicide with assault weapons?
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 17, 2013 at 8:43 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 12

Yes, there is a clear decline in homicides, gun deaths, and suicide in Australia since 1996. The only debate is whether it was due to the gun law or was going to happen anyway due some third factor. And pray tell, what factor would that be? And the claim that it was just luck that there have been no mass shootings since. With each passing year without a mass shooting, the argument in favor of the ban grows more compelling.

But the case doesn't look good for assault weapons. You have to kind of want to believe the ban had no effect to dismiss it. And it certainly proves that you don't need an assault weapon to protect yourself from crime.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on January 17, 2013 at 8:49 AM · Report this
40 million / 270 million+ * 100 = less than 15% of the firearms in private hands here.
Posted by Tawnos on January 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Banning large capacity magazines and strictly regulating bulk ammo purchases (particularly online purchases) absolutely could help reduce the number of fatalities in mass shootings if not thier frequency. It also will help stem this insane stockpiling of weaponry by paranoid extremists that can only serve to destabalize democratic intitutions (read about the Serbian nationalist movement in 80s and 90's). So it's worth persuing.

The question of how these regulative steps will impact total gun homicide rates is very debatable since the vast majority of gun homicides are committed with hand guns with other confounding social and cultural factors present. We shouldn't fool ourselves on that score.
Posted by tkc on January 17, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 15
@11: Adam Lanza did.
Posted by Max Solomon on January 17, 2013 at 9:47 AM · Report this
1. australia did not have the same super high rate of gun ownership that america has. we are truly super high on that, it's fucking crazy.
2. australia was in the group of nations that like canada had a purty darn high rate of gun ownership.
3. the bans and buyback and controls worked well in australia. thus, evidence it will work to some degree here. butyes, we start with a higher base. the australian dude didn't tell us how many guns they had and ended up with after the ban, just that the delcine equated to 40 million here, which out of our 280 million, would be "some but not most." if 40 of our 280 million are bushmasters and assault weapons i say let's do what australia did cuz obviously it works. i mean ONLY nations with strong gun controls are safer, NONE of the nations with high rates of guns that are not well regulated are safe. (eg a switzerland with hi gun rates plus super hi regulations can be safe; the evil combination is hi rates of guns without super regulations, like america). finland and canada have lots and lots of guns, plus stronger regulations that we got here, so they plus australia are sort of good models. i also like australia and canada as models as they are sort of like us culturally, being english in origin, huge and continental, lots of minorities and diversity, and lots of gun owners with legitimate intrest and need to shoot varmints or provide safety in the lonesome outback. if I had a cabin out in fucking okanagan, yes, I'd want a gun, no one is near to help. but i would be glad to pass registration hurdles, to get training and insurance, and to not have a fucking bushmaster allowed. just like we don't allow the average joe to have fucking dynamite.
Posted by i like auzzies! on January 17, 2013 at 10:13 AM · Report this
Actually, Australia's downward homicide trend was happening before the gun ban as well as after. If you look at the actual figures, the gun ban did little, to nothing, to accelerate the decline in homicides.…

Additionally, Australia's per capita assaults and sexual assaults have gone up since the ban.…

Additionally, new suicide prevention programs were instituted around the same time - all suicides in Australia have gone down.

Lastly, for every study that says that the gun ban had a large effect on gun violence, there's another one that says it did not.
Posted by randoma on January 17, 2013 at 10:22 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 18
for every study that says climate change is real, there's an industry-sponsored one that says it's not. i guess we'll never know the truth, so why try anything. sigh.
Posted by Max Solomon on January 17, 2013 at 10:40 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 19
The other gun nut canard blown out of the water is that Oz Hitler has not risen to spread tyranny because of their sensible gun laws. Also, one of the most democratic, least corrupt countries anywhere.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on January 17, 2013 at 10:48 AM · Report this
@12 I suspect that the 1996 Australian gun laws reduced violence, primarily, by restricting access to handguns. The vast majority of US gun murders and nearly half of all murders in the US are committed w/ handguns. You can read more about that here:…

Murder w/ long guns of any kind (whether they meet the definition of an 'assault weapon' or not) is a rare event, so an assault weapons ban will have little effect on the murder rate. Nothing Obama is proposing would meaningfully restrict access to handguns. Hence, Obama's plan won't do much, even if he can get it through congress. In five years gang violence in Chicago will be as bad as ever and people like Cascadian Bacon will be crowing about how gun control doesn't work.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on January 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 21
Australia changed laws regarding pistols.

That is what changed the homicide rate.

Not "Assault Weapons."

You guys love that word, "Assault Weapons," yet I really, truly don't think you understand what you're talking about.

It's really making me think at this point that any gun laws that might pass are going to be ill-worded, "feel good," meaningless drivel.

"That includes pistols, right?"
"I dunno, "Assault Weapon" is a buzz word I hear my friends say a lot... but that information's not important to me. I just want to feel emotionally satisfied."
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 17, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
@20, Australia's gun ban absolutely did not reduce overall gun violence. Whether or not it was responsible for the increase in overall violence is another question.
Posted by randoma on January 17, 2013 at 12:05 PM · Report this
@22 A quick google search shows that in 1995 Australia had 1.8 murders per 100,000 population. In 2010 that number was 1.0 per 100,000 people. What is this increase in violence your talking about?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on January 17, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
@23, see my post @17. Actually though I mispoke in @22. That should have been "did not reduce overall violence". Between 1996 and 2007, assaults went up from a little over 600 per capita to over 800 per capita. (Roughly 100,000 assaults in 1996 to roughly 175,000 in 2007). I am using figures to 2007 because that is what Australia's Institute of Criminology has published, however, the trends continue to current day.

Additionally, if you look at the figures for robbery, the numbers of armed (firearm) robberies as a percentage of overall robberies stays very close during that time period. (Overall robberies go up and down).

Also, while Australia has not had a mass shooting since the ban, neither has New Zealand which did not have a ban and prior to 1996 had similar numbers of mass shootings.
Posted by randoma on January 17, 2013 at 2:18 PM · Report this
Here's a little snopes article on the oft-cited by gun-rights advocates claim that murder rates in Australia increased after more restrictive gun legislation was passed.
Posted by Proteus on January 17, 2013 at 3:56 PM · Report this
@25, Did you mean to say, "Oh wait! Look at that cute bunny rabbit!"

Why don't you look at the actual data, published by the Australia's Institute of Criminology? It supports everything I have posited here. (No one, in this thread, said that murder rates increased.)

Posted by randoma on January 17, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
Australia does not have a second amendment, nor do they have the Heller interpretation that recognizes an individual right to keep and bear arms, and to use them for self defense. Nor do they have at least half of their territorial governments with constitutions explicitly recognizing those rights.

Until "progressives" are willing to face American facts and reality, you will kick and scream and whine and stamp your little feet to your hearts' content, and all of your pissing and moaning will amount to exactly nothing. Get as mad at me as you want -- I know you will, because I don't respect you in the least -- but it won't matter. Period.
Posted by Mister G on January 17, 2013 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Guns = Religion in America

You would have an easier time regulating religion then guns.

There are already 300 million guns in private hands. Tons of ammunition and magazines. Private citizens already own more guns then the US Military. Government will not be able to disarm people without a bloody civil war. We will not allow ourselves to be passively disarmed.

They would not be fleecing sheep. They will be attempting to de-fang and de-claw lions.
Posted by bill t on January 17, 2013 at 7:54 PM · Report this
The ban CLEARLY resulted in a decline in mass shootings since they haven't had any since 1996. However mass shootings are an insignificant component of overall killings or gun violence. Essentially, these sorts of controls are aimed at reducing the mass shootings.
Posted by Dave69 on January 25, 2013 at 1:32 PM · Report this

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