An Australian student writes:
My name is Taniesha and I am an 11th grade student in Adelaide, Australia. For my major school piece I am doing a comparative research project regarding laws, controversy and ethics surrounding the sale and use of firearms in both Australia and the United States. The question I am basing my assignment on is; “To what extent would America benefit from adopting Australia’s anti-gun laws?” As you can imagine, this has proven to be a very heavy, controversial question and I am seeking the views and opinions of both sides of the debate. I found your website to be very interesting, and although it is not short of resources supporting your cause I would love to be able to get the personal view of someone within your organisation (or a few people, for that matter, as any and all opinions are greatly valued) surrounding . . .
– America’s current gun laws
– Homicide/suicide rates
– School shootings
– Accidents involving firearms
And so on (i.e. how much of an issue is gun violence in America/how do you think further loss of life can be prevented etc.) Of course any response to my research question would be brilliant too!
I look forward to any response I may receive as I am extremely interested in this topic and the debates that take place within it.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
Thanks for writing! I’ll post this on our website so TTAG readers can chip-in, to give you a better idea of the pro-gun side here in The Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave. Meanwhile, my take . . .
The question assumes that America WOULD benefit from Australia’s gun laws. (I hate it what that happens!) America would NOT benefit from Australia’s gun laws, which restrict Aussies’ natural right to armed self-defense. Natural in the sense that we all have the right to defend our lives against those who would take it from us.
The question also assumes that gun laws should be based on social utility. In other words, government should be free to regulate/restrict gun rights to keep people safe. It’s not a question of “if” government should regulate the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms. It’s a question of “how.”
That’s an understandable position. But the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, like the right to free speech. Here in the U.S., our gun rights are subject neither to the democratic process – they’re protected by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution – nor arguments of social utility. It doesn’t matter whether or not society would be safer with tighter restrictions on guns.
And that means that the follow-up questions about the potential impact on the U.S. of Australian-style gun control legislation – which we already have in states like New Jersey and New York – are irrelevant.
I could argue the position that the greater the number of legally armed citizens the lower the crime rate (as outlined by author John Lott in his book More Guns, Less Crime). I could also argue that armed citizens stop mass shootings, and provide many examples. At the end of the proverbial day, our gun rights are non-negotiable. The challenges of reducing so-called “gun violence” require other answers, other approaches.
I’ll leave you with two important points.
First, the number of successful defensive gun uses in America is far greater than the number of firearms-related homicides, suicides and negligent discharges (death resulting) combined. The lowest estimate of successful DGUs: 55k per year. The highest: well over a million per year. You’ll find plenty of anecdotal evidence on our site and elsewhere of Americans who use guns to save lives. So if you’re still wondering if firearms freedom is a good thing or a bad thing generally speaking, wonder no more.
Second, the Founding Fathers enshrined Americans’ gun rights in the Constitution as a bulwark against government tyranny. We have protected gun rights to ensure that the government answers to We the People. The individual right to keep and bear arms is just as important today as it was on December 15, 1791, when the Bill of Rights was ratified. That may sound paranoid, but open your eyes. Government is now, as it has always been, as it will always be, the greatest threat to individual liberty. Which many maybe even most Americans value above all else.