Australian "mandatory gun buyback" (courtesy csmonitor.com)

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published a study entitled Association Between Gun Law Reforms and Intentional Firearm Deaths in Australia, 1979-2013. “Following enactment of gun law reforms in Australia in 1996, there were no mass firearm killings through May 2016,” its authors write. “There was a more rapid decline in firearm deaths between 1997 and 2013 compared with before 1997 but also a decline in total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths of a greater magnitude. Because of this, it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to the gun law reforms.”

While the conclusion seems equitable enough, the report’s authors — Simon Chapman, PhD, Philip Alpers and Michael Jones, PhD — are hardly the people you’d choose to measure the efficacy of civilian disarmament. From medpagetoday.com:

The authors of the JAMA study had obvious conflicts, Wheeler said, with one being a member of the Coalition for Gun Control (Australia) and “Second author Philip Alpers is the founding director of the gun ban organization GunPolicy.org and is a delegate to the U.N.’s project to ban private gun ownership worldwide, the so-called Programme of Action. Mr. Alpers, although he holds the title of Adjunct Associate Professor at University of Sydney School of Public Health, apparently has no college degree and no evident qualifications other than being a premier gun prohibition activist. These are insurmountable shortcomings for authors of a supposedly peer reviewed scientific article in a journal with the reputation of JAMA.”

From the Guardian:

The lead author of the study, Professor Simon Chapman, said a similar study had been conducted 10 years ago, and that the researchers had repeated it to see if gun-related deaths were continuing to decline, finding that they had.

Professor Simon Chapman is a noted gun control advocate, who pushed hard for the policies evaluated by this study.  From wikipedia.org:

He was a key member of the Coalition for Gun Control which won the 1996 Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission‘s Community Human Rights award for its advocacy for gun law reform after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

From the Guardian:

A co-author of the paper, Associate Professor Philip Alpers, who is also the founding director of GunPolicy.org, said it was “amazing” that the reforms were still having a positive effect 20 years after they were first introduced.

Phillip Alpers does not have a formal degree. His major qualification for his associate professorship appears to be his anti-gun activism, and a number of papers he has written. From corregidor.org:

So we put it directly to the university, who on earth would referee for someone like Alpers whose various so-called scientific papers have one thing in common; they’re littered with the most clumsy and basic mathematical errors and elementary errors of logic, which invariably favour Alpers’ own arguments! Their reply:

“The University cannot disclose private and confidential information of that nature to third parties such as yourself. As all your correspondence is being copied to Associate Professor Alpers for his information, I suggest you address any further questions to him directly”.

Good idea, we thought. After being advised by Alpers that we should “feel free to ask (him) anything we couldn’t find elsewhere”, he apparently had a change of heart.

“As you’ve already been told, universities in common with other employers do not permit disclosure of reference-related information to third parties”.

So there you have it. In our day, Professors were a little different. Their many and various academic degrees, the universities that conferred these titles upon them, and the dates were all a matter of public record for every department.

The AMA has issued a statement that they support the failed “Assault Weapon Ban.” From ama-assn.org:
Based on long-time AMA-HOD policy, the letter also calls for renewing and strengthening the assault weapons ban, including banning high-capacity magazines.  AMA supports S. 150, the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013,” which was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) can hardly be considered a neutral source for research about a policy position that they have long advocated.  It was advocacy studies at the Centers For Disease Control that prompted a ban on federal funding of gun control advocacy there. The AMA has not come to its position on gun control recently. It has been an advocate for at least 24 years. From davekopel.com:

”In 1992, the AMA’s Council on Scientific Affairs promulgated a report and position paper on “Assault Weapons” (guns with a military appearance), and declared them to be a public health hazard in the United States. It recommended legislation to restrict the sale and private ownership of such firearms.

Among the critics of the AMA report was Edgar A. Suter, M.D. According to Suter (1995), “The AMA Council on Scientific Affairs did not conduct a rigorous scientific evaluation before supporting a ban on assault weapons. The Council appears to have unquestioningly accepted common misperceptions and even partisan misrepresentations regarding the nature and uses of assault weapons….While an assault weapon ban may have appeared to the Council to be a simple solution to America’s exaggerated ‘epidemic’ of violence, a scholarly review of the literature finds no reliable data to support such a ban. Unfortunately the Council’s faulty call for prohibition may distract legislators and the public from addressing effective methods of controlling violence.”

A major difficulty in any research is that people tend to find what they want to find. One of the ways it becomes a problem is selection bias. It’s clear that there’s little to no statistical support for the claim that a decrease in crime or suicides was due to the extremely strict Australian gun laws put in place in 1997.

Selection bias is a problem for all researchers. But people should be aware of studies done by advocates and published by an organization that promotes the same advocacy. This does not mean that Chapman and or Alpers consciously deceive or publish false information.  It means that they are human, and more likely to see and report on that which supports their opinions.

As a “control” on mass killings, New Zealand did not implement the strict gun control laws of Australia.  They eliminated much of their gun registry in favor of licensing of individual gun owners.  Yet over the period of the study, New Zealand, like Australia, has not had a mass killing by gunfire. Link to Paper (PDF). Mass killings are rare events in both Australia and New Zealand.

The number of gun owners and guns owned in Australia have returned to pre-1997 levels, but the homicide and suicide rates have not.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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41 Responses to Anti-Gunners Author JAMA Study of Australian Gun Control

  1. “This does not mean that Chapman and or Alpers consciously deceive or publish false information.”

    Oh yes it does.

    • If JAMA had wanted to get it right they would have said “This doesn’t mean that Chapman and or Alpers admit to deliberately attempting to deceive with bogus statical analysis.” Of course that would conflict with their entire anti-gun schtick.

    • I’m not sure I agree. There are certainly quite a few anti-gunners who are willful, knowing liars (ahem, Josh Sugarman, ahem), but every single deceiver needs an army of ignorant, biased thought-clones to be truly successful. Maybe these three knew exactly what they were doing, but I think it’s more than likely that they simply never thought to question their own beliefs, so instead they naturally gravitated towards data that safely validated those beliefs. If it’s not true of them, it’s true of many, many others. Malice and forethought are pretty easy to prove when they exist; religiously willful ignorance is quite a bit harder.

  2. Yeah, many of us are all too familiar with correlation being improperly used when it serves special interests (ie vaccine efficacy), and the authors conflict of interest in the vast majority of these journal pieces.

    • All the wonderful and magic outcome from this confiscation somehow materialized even though the compliance rate with the confiscation is calculated to be….wait for it…..<20%.

      Sometime rare bad things don't happen…because they rarely happen.

    • Vaccine efficacy, in general, has been irrefutably demonstrated by every single clinical and epidemiological study ever published and peer reviewed. There are exactly no exceptions to this statement. The only possible objections one can factually make are strain-specific vaccines such as the annual flu vaccine, which is effective only against certain strains of influenza which must be predicted prior to flu season, or against delivery methods, such as nasal/oral versus injection. We literally know more about how vaccines work, and how well they work than we know about gravity. Anyone who disputes this is factually wrong.

      Studies on firearms, on the other hand, are 50/50 at the very best in their results, and because it’s impossible to conduct clinical studies on firearm deaths, because they’re related solely to human behavior and to multiple types of largely unrelated behavior (homicide, suicide, negligence and self defense) it’s incredibly hard to produce reliable or definitive results.

      What we do know is that gun control and gun ownership doesn’t appear to impact suicide rates at all among rich countries unless you parse data down to unreliable levels, and outside the United States it doesn’t appear to affect murder rates either. The US has a non-firearms murder rate (ie, all murders except for guns, or about 30% of the total) that’s higher than the total murder rates in most developed nations, and through the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s it was a multiplier of OECD averages.

      Simply put, studies on gun violence are difficult to conduct reliably, but the raw data suggests that even the most strict gun control either doesn’t work or works so poorly that it’s impossible to measure. And if you think that vaccines don’t work, you are wrong.

  3. Yep-somehow violent crime is way down despite a gigantic proliferation of those scary gunz. Yes even in Chiraq(check out the homicide #’s from the 70’s through the 90’s). Even in OZ…maybe gun control is about…control???

  4. Modern social democracies create meaningless cultures in which mass shootings occur. Then they try to disarm their subjects, instead of asking why these events were virtually unknown in the days when guns were freely available to anyone.

      • Really? Tell me about the mass shooting history of, say, 1875-1890. Guns were available to anyone, felons, children, immigrants, ANYONE!

    • In the US, the media now uses the term “mass shooting”, which is four or more persons shot, not necessarily killed. By this metric, there have been several mass shootings in AUS since 1996 on the linked list. Moreover, the claim in the article is that it is current “up to May 2016,” but somehow ignores the Sydney hostage/shooting by the Islamic extremist in 2014 in which three died and four injured.

    • Exactly this. It never, ever gets mentioned. If anyone needs an irrefutable example of MSM bias, look no further than the issue of guns and gun control.

    • Also, using the media’s new and conveniently more inclusive definition of “mass shooting”, there were actually 3 post-Port Arthur mass shootings.

  5. Australian shooter here

    As I have said here before I now own more firearms since the laws changed but I imagine in 20 years I would have anyway

    Do I like the laws as is NO

    Do mass killings still happen YES. But they were by fire so apparently don’t count

    As has been shown many times by SSAA ( our version of NRA) Alpers etc have no qualifications and very biased “research”

    • Do you have a link to a study summarizing the mass killings that do happen or some info on them?

      This is a point I make often, that the worst mass killings tend not to involve guns but explosives and arson.

  6. JAMA used to be a well respected medical journal with peer reviewed research articles. Now it seems, at least with respect to gun control articles, it is just a blog speaking in an echo chamber.

  7. And yet Australia has had no mass killings whatsoever after the nfa ban proposed by minister howard which saved lives.

    And everyday america see’s a mass shootting happen.

    When will america learn that more guns equals more killings and violence.

    What are you going to tell the families of the victims that lose their lives to the needless violence that happens everyday?

    Yeah, The NRA is right, Your selfish outdated hobby is worth more than the thousands of innocents that die yearly because of somehow saving lives is evil.

  8. Nothing like wiping your butt with a $400K + piece of paper.

    Doctors who care about their patients, first have to care about their profession or the witch doctor is going to come back into style.

    All of this cr_p is just a bunch of malarkey to attempt to find a litigation loop so they can do a class-action $$$. It’s not about the kids, or safety, or the ‘lives lost’. It’s about the tobacco settlement running out from the 1990’s and the development of the next set of deep-pockets. To hell with you.

  9. Dare I say, perhaps when you factor Aussies have strict immigration could be the reason less mass shootings.

    But but but that would be racist…don’t ya think.

  10. Well, but once again why do we always want to compare with countries that don’t have anything in common with the US… starting by the fact that Australia (just like Japan and the UK) is an island… which is always easier to protect the borders, avoid illegal drugs and guns smuggling and trafficking. Then, the whole demography and city density is not the same, economics is different, etc…

    And even, Australia had 13 mass shooting in 18 or 19 years (from the top of my head) before the gun ban. So less than 1 per year… so nothing to compare to the US in the first place.

    It would be like saying that children in Africa doesn’t suffer of obesity because they don’t have anything to eat in comparison to the US, therefore it must be good for them Pure non sense.

    So, the whole comparison and conclusion are just irrelevant (at best!)

      • It’s a large mostly empty island-not dissimilar to Greenland. A giant desert. It’s only a “continent” because people say it is…

  11. I suspect that any of the assertions of truth may in fact be a lie but it does not matter for I will not comply.

  12. And of course, the fact that Australia’s sexual assault rate skyrocketed pretty much overnight following their most recent set of “reforms” (the really draconian ones implemented following the Port Arthur Massacre) doesn’t matter to most Aussies or their political masters.

  13. I suspect the issue is mostly cultural and I think you can see that here in the US as well.

    I lived in Dunedin NZ for a year in middle/high school and was struck by the practicality of your average Kiwi. To them a gun is a tool. Much like rural parts of the US where a gun is generally thought of as a tool.

    Compare that to cities. Cities have a two fold problem. The concentration of wealth in a city draws in the criminal element. Yes, highwaymen of old existed but there were few highwaymen as compared to the numbers murderers and thieves in ancient Roman cities. Today is no different. Further, we’ve moved past the technology of the blade. It takes a seriously cold-blooded streak to go after an innocent person with a blade and I can personally attest that a knife being introduced to a fight is scary as fuck. A gun makes it a bit less personal for the criminal. That fact has led to a certain subset of our population not seeing a gun as a tool, but rather as something that adds inches to their dick.

    People who see it as a tool have respect for the power of a gun. Those who see it as adding inches to their dick see it as something that makes them more powerful and gets them want they want while limiting the risks involved in a physical altercation.

    • Huh?!? That’s precisely what the leftwing lowlife sez- “compensation” for a tiny member. So how come the population with the(allegedly) largest tools(black men) have by FAR the highest criminal handgun use? Pray tell whut are THEY compensating for?

      • First of all it’s a metaphor for being a “big man” and having “street cred” it’s not meant to be taken literally, nor was race a component of my statement. White people do the same thing. See steroids, muscle cars and martial arts. It’s all about “proving yourself” not making a girl scream that she’s getting ripped apart because you didn’t go slow and use a gallon of lube.

        Further, now that you force me to look this up: In terms of statistics you’re letting porn cloud your vision on this. The statistically variation in averages between black and white men in terms of length, girth and circumference is not very large at all. It’s certainly not enough to change the way the average woman feels about it. Put in a rather crude terms if you picked a random woman and built a contraption that she could be penetrated without knowing who was doing it, she would never know the difference between the average black male and the average white male. The difference in the size of our junk is significantly less than the difference in the rate at which we shoot each other.

        http://www.penissizes.org/average-penis-size-ethnicity-race-and-country

        Even further, only according to manufactures of condoms only 6% of the entire US population requires extra-large condoms (Magnums). Now maybe my vision as a white guy is clouded by needing such a thing but the truth is that the biggest dicks on earth, statistically, belong to Pacific Islanders.

        https://www.promescent.com/penis-size

        So no, penis size has little to nothing to do with this.

        The truth is that violent behavior, or the ability to switch it on, is usually taught. Humans have usually have an aversion to killing each other (See On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (ret.)) Just look at USMC training for boots. Generally people enter the Corps rather mild mannered and come out… different. That’s learned behavior for the most part and it has to do with Marine Corps culture where moving to violence is taught and encouraged. When I went to enlist I ended up in the DEP and that sort of mental change begins in such a program. We used to have to meet up and jog around the mall that the recruiting station was in singing songs about killing and mayhem as a primer before going to boot. Even black people generally pull a horrified look when a bunch of people run by chanting “What makes that grass grow? BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD! What makes the blood flow? MARINES MARINES MARINES!”.

        Violent behavior is the result of improper “wiring” in the brain or it’s a learned pattern of behavior. It has nothing to do with how big someone’s cock is.

        • SEE:The use of the term”allegedly”…my vision is not clouded. By porn or anything else(except old age)…as far as “wiring”-excess testosterone is a known indicator for violence. And not particularly exogenous T(so-called “roid-rage”). Some guys are just violent azzwholes-they don’t have to gin it up like a jar-head. And I’ve known plenty in my 60 some years. You seem to be new here but my screen name refers to my former weightlifting/power/bodybuilding days. 700LB squats,600 deadlifts,300 power clean @182 lbs and various other sundry feats-all drug free. I’ve seen every crazy drugged out mother you can imagine(I even was a bouncer). And I don’t retract a single remark to you…

  14. I’ve heard that noncompliance rates in Oz are around 80%. There are certainly more “legal” firearms there than there were pre-96, and the gangs have no problem getting homemade firearms of rather impressive build quality…

  15. James Pearce, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Southern State Community College (Ohio), has a suggestion up on his Facebook page. Why hasn’t Facebook banned him for advocating violence?

    “Look, there’s only one solution. A bunch of us anti-gun types are going to have to arm ourselves, storm the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, VA, and make sure there are no survivors.

    This action might also require coordinated hits at remote sites, like Washington lobbyists.

    Then and only then will we see some legislative action on assault weapons.

    Have a nice day. :)”

  16. The post-Port Arthur gun confiscation law is arguably one of the biggest scams foisted upon Australians during the last decades.

    In the twenty years before Port Arthur (1976-1996), there have been 14 mass killings with a death toll of 79.

    However, in the eighteen years after Port Arthur (’96 through 2014; and that pivotal incident on Tasmania is excluded from both the before and after count), no less than 10 mass killings took place, totalling 74 dead.

    I’d say that is not exactly what you’d call an impressive record for a piece of legislation that allegedly was enacted in order to improve public safety. A determined offender doesn’t care one bit about the law. If he absolutely cannot get his hands on a gun, he’ll stab or burn his victims to death (as has happened in Australia numerous times). What’s next, logically? Will Canberra ban matches and kitchen knives?

    The results are long in. Gun legislation is absolutely useless when it comes to safety and outright tyrannical when considered under a natural rights/justice perspective.

  17. Next, they will study how there are no automobile caused fatalities in the Xingu Indians Of The Amazon Rainforest.

  18. Philip Alpers used to be a New Zealand journalist, who mainly worked on the consumer show “Fair Go”, but he went a bit weird on an anti firearms trip, and I seem to remember him losing his job. When not on a firearms kick, he could be an effective journalist. He headed a drive to ban our firearms after Port Arthur, but because he came off as a kook, he failed. Besides, we Kiwis really don’t care how many Aussies kill each other, except if we’re visiting relations at the time. We all have family in Australia. John Howard was a power tripping egomaniac when Prime Minister. He was Deputy Sheriff to George W. Bush in his own mind. Banning guns was just a display of his power, and a complete overreaction to Port Arthur. In NZ, we abandoned a gun registry because it was too much work for too little reward for Police, and concentrated instead on properly vetting and training firearms license holders. We have a very satisfactory system with few criminals having or using firearms, and only very occasional mental loose units befouling the media with their gun crimes. Please keep Alpers, we don’t want him back!

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