Gun control advocates love to point to Australia as a model for why gun control — or more accurately gun confiscation, which is really their end goal — will work in the United States. The Aussies took away a lot of the guns, goes the refrain, and they achieved positive results. We should do the same!
While we have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, a right few other nations enjoy, the reality is that what “worked” somewhere else (or rather deprived those people of the means to defend themselves) won’t necessarily work here. Correlation is most certainly not causation and even a cursory examination of a few additional metrics for context indicates that Australian-style gun control would fail in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
For starters, homicides (including those by firearm) have declined in Australia following the gun buybacks and restrictions passed after the Port Arthur Massacre. However, according to data from Australia’s Institute of Criminology (their Bureau of Justice Statistics) both overall homicides and homicides by firearm were already starting to decline by the late 1980s and early 1990s.
As of 2013/2014, Australia’s homicide rate was roughly one per 100,000 residents, according to The Guardian. In 1989, the rate was 1.9 per 100,000.
A Mises.org report using FBI data, the homicide rate in the United States in 1991 was just under 10 per 100,000 residents. By 2104, it had been cut in half, falling to 4.5 per 100,000 residents.
And that homicide rate decline occurred at the same time the umber of civilian owned firearms in the US increased dramatically. In other words, far fewer people are being killed by guns today than they were 30 years ago despite more far guns in circulation.
What effect did the Australian gun control law have? It arguably had some, but how much is impossible to determine to a certainty. However, the homicide rate in the United States fell at about the the same rate over the same period despite far looser restrictions on owning and carrying firearms. Not only that, but all violent crime in the developed world has been falling since the early 1990s, according to The Economist.
There may simply be more violent crime in the United States than elsewhere in the developed world. Violence, like any issue afflicting a society, has many unique causes. Why the US should have more violent crime than other industrialized nations is difficult to determine. When compared to anywhere else in, say, the G20 nations, our violent crime rate is several times that of most other countries.
While stricter gun control measures might, at least on paper, reduce mass shootings, that doesn’t necessarily mean overall violent crime or even homicides would be reduced at all. Note that the murder rate in the United Kingdom has risen since their handgun ban was implemented in 1997.
So, it would appear that while the great Australian gun grab may have had some sort of positive effect, there were many other factors at work as well. It would seem that the US doesn’t have a gun problem, we may just have a violence problem, one that isn’t going to be solved by confiscating Americans’ firearms. Merely adopting other countries’ laws and forsaking our Second Amendment freedoms isn’t a solution.