The Truth About Australia’s Gun Ban and Spree Killing


In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary spree killing, America’s gun control industry is in high gear. They’re trotting out the usual tropes, blending emotion with misleading information, hoping to lead the public to conclude that “something must be done!” Unsurprisingly, the New York Times is suffused with anti-gun agitprop. Yesterday, Op-Ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof asked Do We Have the Courage to Stop This? Like many gun control advocates, Kristof would have his readers think “other countries have controlled guns effectively, why not us?” Here’s his “logic” . . .

Other countries offer a road map. In Australia in 1996, a mass killing of 35 people galvanized the nation’s conservative prime minister to ban certain rapid-fire long guns. The “national firearms agreement,” as it was known, led to the buyback of 650,000 guns and to tighter rules for licensing and safe storage of those remaining in public hands.

The law did not end gun ownership in Australia. It reduced the number of firearms in private hands by one-fifth, and they were the kinds most likely to be used in mass shootings.

In the 18 years before the law, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings — but not one in the 14 years after the law took full effect. The murder rate with firearms has dropped by more than 40 percent, according to data compiled by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center [HICRC], and the suicide rate with firearms has dropped by more than half.

If you take Kristof’s “evidence” as writ, it sounds like America is just being pig-headed (a theme not unpopular amongst America’s self-professed intellectuals). If you look closely at the actual data, though, a different picture emerges.

The HICRC report Kristof quotes says that “In the seven years before the NFA (1989-1995), the average annual firearm suicide death rate per 100,000 was 2.6 (with a yearly range of 2.2 to 2.9); in the seven years after the buyback was fully implemented (1998-2004), the average annual firearm suicide rate was 1.1 (yearly range 0.8 to 1.4).”

Be that as it may, Australia’s overall suicide rate has remained essentially unchanged. According to the study data, the rate of suicide (any method) per 100,000 people was as follows:

2008: 10.2229
2007: 8.93
2006: 8.70
2005: 10.30
2004: 10.44
2003: 11.1424
2002: 11.81
2001: 12.64
2000: 12.34
1999: 13.17
1998: 14.34
1997: 14.69
1996: 13.07
1995: 13.10
1994: 12.65
1993: 11.78
1992: 13.11
1991: 13.65
1990: 12.66
1989: 12.47
1988: 13.29

So, not much of a change, then.

As for homicide rates, the HICRC report says “The NFA also seems to have reduced firearm homicide outside of mass shootings, as well as firearm suicide. … In the seven years before the NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate per 100,000 was .43 (range .27 to .60) while for the seven years post NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate was .25 (range .16 to .33).”

And again, if you look at the overall numbers, there’s hardly a blip. The Australian homicide rate (any method) per 100,000 people is:

2009: 1.218
2007/08: 1.221
2006/07: 1.221
2005/06: 1.421
2004/05: 1.2
2003/04: 1.421
2002/03: 1.5
2001/02: 1.8
2000/01: 1.6
1999/00: 1.6
1998/99: 1.7
1997/98: 1.6
1996/97: 1.6
1995/96: 1.6
1994/95: 1.8
1993/94: 1.821
1992/93: 1.9
1991/92: 1.8
1990/91: 1.9
1989/90: 1.8

As our Bruce Krafft points out (after providing the analysis), “what no one mentions: the US non-firearm-related homicide rate is almost four times Australia’s. If guns are the cause then why aren’t our non-firearm homicide rates the same?”

What interests me: why these gun control advocates can’t seem to use Google. A simple search turns up Australia’s Gun Laws: Little Effect from . . . wait for it . . . Time Magazine. As always, the truth will out. At least in these parts.