Australia Gun Control Statistics
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By Thomas E. Gift, MD

In the July 3, 2018 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, Simon Chapman and co-authors present statistics purporting to show that Australia’s well-known restrictions on gun ownership led to a reduction in mass shootings. As might be imagined, there are many problems with this report, making it hard to believe the findings. Where to start?

The title refers to “Firearms Incidents.” However, the authors don’t deal with what might be thought of as firearms incidents generally, but rather only with “mass shootings.” These are defined as events in which 5 or more people are killed, but they provide neither data nor a rationale to justify this definition.

They examine the 18 year period before the restrictions were put in place without giving any justification for choosing this number. There was no statistical or experimental control when the restrictions were enacted, and so no way of knowing if the decline in mass shootings the authors describe had anything to do with the restrictions.

In addition, there’s no mention of the well-recognized decline in homicides in developed countries over the years of the study or of the long term decline in the homicide rate in Australia beginning in 1984, long before the draconian firearms restrictions.

About the authors: Simon Chapman, lists himself as having been a member of the Australian Coalition for Gun Control. He is the author of Over Our Dead Bodies, a book advocating the restriction of gun ownership. The second author, Philip Alpers, is listed as running This organization purports to provide “intelligence from a broad range of official and academic sources.”

A few minutes spent scrutinizing the website reveal that the organization advocates against individual ownership of firearms. His qualifications as a researcher have been called into question and he has also been criticized for attacking firearms safety classes for children.

While they allude to the “Port Arthur massacre” as the precipitating event for reducing firearms ownership, they provide no account of the perpetrator. In fact, he was a violent man whose antisocial tendencies and behaviors had been conspicuous since his childhood, and a guardian had been appointed to manage his affairs. In this context it is worth noting the increasing emphasis on addressing mental illness as an approach to reducing violence.

But the authors’ carry on the all-too-common tendency to talk about killings being due to firearms rather than to those who wield those firearms. Again we see anti-gun authors describing violence as being due to guns, not violence due to perpetrators using guns.


Thomas E. Gift, MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing in Rochester, New York, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical School, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. For those who are not initiated in the concept, and has been mentioned many times here before, correlation does not equal causation.

    • The saying is that correlation does not NECESSARILY equal causation. In the 60’s did doctors not notice a correlation between smoking and lung cancer? Did that not lead to a cause?

      • Misled them to the cause, more like. What is generally NOT noticed here is that studies all focus on just cigarette smoking, while ignoring the other factors, like all the other chemicals and petroleum distillates(methyl ethyl ketone, lacquer thinner, etc.) in pre-rolled cigarettes that aren’t in the tobacco itself.
        This is what generally happens with statistics. People that don’t know the field jump to the wrong conclusions, but once a ‘respected’ organization prints that conclusion the sheeple take it as gospel because the grand poobah said so. From then on they just continue to parrot the same incorrect conclusions forever, because it would take some work to dig deeply into the statistics, and most don’t know how anyway.
        It’s a very good system for grand poobah wannabes with hidden agendas… not so good for the sheep that they prey upon.

      • Absolutely not! Try this; I smoked 2 packs a day for 40 years, during which time I was healthy as a horse, now non smoker for 10 years, STILL without any sign of cancer. If smoking *caused* cancer, I would have had cancer 30-odd years ago, or more. You might also wish to examine, after all the hullabaloo about smoking for the past 50 years, has the rate of any cancer changed? Or have we all been played for fools?

        • It’s a probability, not a certainty. My grandmother smoked for about 70 years and died of pneumonia, not lung cancer. And my grandfather on the other side lived cleanly without tobacco or alcohol and died of cancer.

          But Kenneth is half-right. It’s all the gunk in the smoke, (much of which does come from tobacco proper, other from other sources) hence why they think eCigarettes are an improvement… maybe there are other things they could do, but I doubt the staunchly anti-tobacco bureaucrats will do any research. California already has a stupid (and wrong) campaign against eCigarettes, bureaucracy is gonna bureaucrat.

          As for cancer rates, people are getting older. Older people have more issues, including cancer. We’re bathed in radiation every day of our lives, so it’s not surprising that issues build up and get worse over time. I haven’t seen rates increasing for the young, but even if they are, it could as easily be better detection as something else.

        • Ingenero…You don’t see a connection between decades of lung abuse and succumbing to pneumonia, a very serious lung infection?

      • Perhaps the EIGHTEEN SIXTIES. “Coffin Nails originated around the period of the Civil War. And a big fat so what to gunerent. Self inflicted delayed suicide.

    • I’d bet that the study only examined one side of the issue and ignored legal defensive gun uses. Typical junk “science” by amateurs.

  2. Oz is ripe for islamificatiom politically but their status as an island, albeit a big one, protects them. Now if a leftwing government decides to shelter the third world from whatever them all bets are off.

  3. Always problems when the researchers have a motive or agenda…whether it is the pro-gun or anti-gun side.

  4. This is silly….. if you look on Wikipedia at the Timeline of Major Crimes in Australia, you see about a dozen incidents where an individual has an illegal gun, walks into a public space and shoots people, after the Port Arthur shooting, they are lying to us…. they get away with saying they aren’t mass public shootings only because 1) the shooter decided not to shoot more people or 2) the shooter missed or his weapon malfunctioned…. so they had shootings in public places, they just got lucky that the shooter didn’t shoot 3 or more people… that would be obama’s new definition of mass public shootings. If someone already has an illegal gun, Australian gun control can’t take the credit if they don’t kill enough people in a public space. Add to that, gun crime in Australia is on the rise… is a 3 part article on the growing gun problem in Australia….

    • According to the Australian print article, their gang bangers tend to inflict nonfatal wounds as warnings rather than attempts to kill. That’s the way it started between the Bloods and Crips where I live. They soon escalated to fatal shootings. I expect the same will happen in Australia.

      • I seriously, and I do mean very seriously doubt that the intent in either case is shooting to wound. It may be that the perpetrators are not necessarily interested in death as an outcome and would accept maiming or intimidating rivals out of competition…but I find it more likely that death doesn’t regularly result from these shootings because they are badly planned and poorly executed by low skill low commitment types who don’t exactly excell at anything. Put another way, they certainly are trying to kill, they just aren’t very good at it.

  5. I’m thinking the real answer to mass shootings is to let everyone download and print the DD Liberator. That way only one person gets shot, probably not killed and with any luck the gun will blow up and disable the shooter. See how easy that was.

    • I already carry two guns…with your plan I’ll need like 50 guns on me, heavy gloves, goggles…where am I supposed to show all this crap?!

  6. Gun-Free Japan Homicide Rate (0.28) + Suicide Rate (19.7) = 19.98 per 100.000

    Gun-Abundant USA Homicide Rate (5.35) + Suicide Rate (14.3) = 19.65 per 100,000

    Japanese and Americans have nearly the same odds of being terminated by a human in a non accident.
    Japan is slightly MORE dangerous than the USA.

  7. Where to start there are so many things wrong in this “research”.

    Alpers used to claim he graduated university in New Zealand but that was disproved years ago.

    Gun control Australia has so few members that they won’t release details. The best estimate Sporting Shooters can find is well under a 100 possibly under 30 people in the country.

    Deaths from firearms were going down before and after 1996.

    Most recent I could quickly find is 2013 report which says deaths are going down. There were 209 firearm deaths in the country. 79% were suicide and 17% were murder. With 4 % accidents or unclear. In comparison there were 1500 vehicle deaths and 4000 from falls in the elderly. So we should probably ban gravity.

  8. I ask again… what about the arson problem? They always ignore these…

    Quaker Hill Nursing home arson. 11 murdered with fire.
    Whiskey Au Go Go fire. 15 deaths, many more injured, again with fire.
    Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel fire. 15 murdered, arson once again.
    Churchill Fire. 10 burned to death, murdered with flames.
    Rozelle fire murders. Three killed.

    • It all boils down to a violence issue. The violence issue boils down to an issue regarding evil. Pass a law against evil and lets see how that works. Laws are only obeyed by the law abiding, a million laws will not and do not, stop law breaking evil criminals. Laws only effect these criminals through punishment after the fact, therefore they do not prevent the crime they are being punished for. The tools they use to commit these crimes with are just a distraction from the true problem. Just like the argument against constitutional carry, ” how will the police know who the criminals are if everyone is carrying” ? The criminals are the ones doing the crime.

  9. PK
    My favourite question for antis here in Australia is what is second and third biggest mass murder. No one has ever got it.

    I’ve mentioned fire many times on TTAG over the years.

    I am very familiar with Childers fire as I worked in the area for nine years and was transferred about a year before the fire. My neighbor was the local fire chief and first person into the building.

    But fire doesn’t fit the guns narrative.

  10. another d-rat MD who knows what is best for the universe. NOYF business, d-sucker. Make America great by keeping your JAMF pie-hole shut.

  11. Oh, what a cheat. (With apologies to The Four Seasons.)

    The anti’s behind this palmed a card the instant they measured “deaths”, and it’s the say when they talk about “violence.”

    The point is people living, longer, and healthy. The right count is “lives lived.” Used for self-defense a gun is about *more life* and *less violence*, than otherwise, but the violence is already there or the gun is irrelevant.

    The 2.5 million or so DGUs in the US annually — from the report the CDC buried for a decade and a half — are examples of *more life* because a gun what there. Whether it was fired or not — simply being seen, a gun can stop violence in progress. Whether the assailant was shot, or not — simply being fired, a gun can prompt a recalculation by someone doing an assault. Whether anybody died, or not. The least bad DGU is when an assailant thinks better of starting an assault, because a gun might be there, in the way. Literally nothing happens violence-wise, because of the gun. It doesn’t get counted.

    Because, used in the extreme for defense, an “equalizer” is about matching with force, abuse that won’t be denied any other way, these “active” DGUs will *always* involve violence, and will *sometimes* involve violence inflicted using the gun, sometimes even killing someone.

    Counting “deaths” from defensive gun use is disingenuous from the start. The count is lives lived. I think they have a ways to go to get from their “mass shooting” inventory to 2.5 million. A year. And BTW, why do they hate all these potential-but-in-fact-not victims, so? Demographically skewed to women, children, elderly, the small and sick?

    From this particular advocacy, I am confused about the Annals of Internal Medicine’s mission and constituencies. Oh, wait. Maybe not.

  12. I love to use facts when confounding antis, because facts dont care about your feelings….

    Australia 1996 confiscation – finding figures of 650k – over 1 million guns destroyed/confiscated.

    Last reporting on US gun ownership – 400 million known, probably another 50 million unknown. total 450 million(side note that I also like to use to get that look of confusion/defeat. there are 220 million registered cars in the US. So to put the number of guns in a fashion which these people grasp…for every car you see imagine two guns sitting in its place. Stew on that…heh).

    Americans don’t like to be told what to do…ask England. We all know the Australian gun ban is an anti’s wet dream but logic with the above facts tells you it will only ever be a dream. A gun ban is an illogical and moronic argument that would never work even if it were attempted to be placed in effect.


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