Thursday, September 20, 2012

Australia: Another gun control success story

In 1996 there was a gun massacre in Tasmania, Australia resulting in 35 people killed, 18 wounded at a tourist resort.  It was Australia’s worst mass murder ever, but, as we will see, it wasn’t ignored like the recent firearm bloodbaths in the U.S.  Martin Bryant walked into the Broad Arrow Café in the small coastal town of Port Arthur, finished his meal, then entered the main dining room with a satchel, took out an AR-15 assault rifle, and started the carnage.  


Down Under gets serious
with gun control
Bryant shot and killed 20 people in the resort in less than two minutes, thanks to rapid fire available in assault weapons, hitting Moh Yee Ng as he ate his soup, followed by his girlfriend and 18 more.  Then he left to try and kill as many others as possible in this small town including a woman and her two children.  Sound familiar?  Just another random shooting by a maniac—James Holmes in the Aurora, Colo. movie theatre killed 12, injuring 58 with an assault rifle.

Todd Crowell in Real Clear World reports that Bryant was a schizophrenic, which indicates that mental illness entered into the equation.  Another parallel with the James Holmes bloodshed where, if mental health data was shared among law enforcement agencies in the U.S. as it should be, Holmes would never have gotten a gun. 

A 2008 study done in the U.S. shows that local  area background checks had 27% lower rates of gun-related suicides and 22% lower rates of gun-related murders.   


Prime Minister John Howard
But the end of the Australia story is far different that that in the U.S.  As a guideline, this country has done nothing, zilch, zip since the gun slaughters that started gaining momentum with the Columbine gun butchery in Colorado in 1999.  But the conservative—yes, I said conservative—government of Prime Minister John Howard in Australia decided they had had enough.  Because that country’s constitution cannot regulate firearms, they coerced the states to do it.


Kangaroo to the rescue
Australia is a country of 22.7 million people and the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) influence is weaker than in the U.S.  Also, this group is more concerned with hunter’s rights than in this country where gun worshippers want everyone to be able to own a gun and take it anywhere they want to.  What does that say about the American gun culture where these fanatics value their weapons over human life?  This speaks to the fact that the U.S. has 31,347 firearm deaths each year.

The eventuality of Australia’s efforts in gun control resulted in “…mandatory gun licensing; registration of all firearms; an almost complete ban on all semi-automatic weapons, including pump-action shotguns.  Today Australia has a .14 rate of homicides per 100,000 population compared to the U.S. at 2.97, and 15 guns per 100,000 people, the U.S. 88.8, according to The Guardian Datablog.  They also raised taxes to buy back guns.

There are two important factors in relation to the Australian gun control situation.  First, the force behind this action wasn’t gun hating liberals like the NRA would have us think, but conservatives.  Second, Howard’s stringent position on gun control not only didn’t affect him in current elections but helped him in future elections, making him the second-longest serving prime minister in Australian history.  A fact that Democrats and some Republicans should take note of.

UPDATE

My stock answer to all comments questioning the Australian gun law post.

You are quick to come up with anti-gun control facts but short on total research that proves the1996 Australian gun law worked.  Perhaps I am a bit short-sighted for not spelling it out for gun fanatics with blinders. 

Australia’s population increases have been substantial since the passing of the law in 1996.  Its growth rate is higher than China, the U.S. and Canada.  But during the increases in population, Australian homicides per 100,000 pop. decreased from .57 in 1996 down to .1 in 2009.  There was a steady decline to .30 in 2000, .19 in 2005 to .1 in 2009.  These figures come from GunPolicy.org.

And I just uncovered another study that shows as a result of the law the firearm homicide rate fell by 59%, the firearm suicide rate dropped 65%.  The research also estimated that because of the buying back of 3,500 guns per 100,000 population, there resulted a 35 to 50% decline in the homicide rate.

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