The Facts About Guns In Australia

It's funny the kinds of bullshit you hear from people when they are trying to justify their ideology.

I got into a Facebook discussion today with Rob McNealy, my guest on a recent podcast about gun control in the USA. Rob posted comparing gun laws in Mexico to America, suggesting that tighter gun laws in Mexico haven't made it safer. I pointed out that Mexico's GDP is about one fifth that of the United States and he should really compare the USA to a country with similar economics – like Australia.

Rob replied “You are trying to deny the fact that gun control don't stop murder from happening. You are a typical anti-liberty liberal that wants to create MORE murder victims.”

I explained that in the years after the Port Arthur massacre, the risk of dying by gunshot in Australia fell by more than 50% — and stayed there, quoting an article from CNN.

He then replied with this post, claiming that “the percent of murders committed with a firearm (in Australia) was the highest it had ever been in 2006″. His source even claimed this data was from “Australian Bureau of Criminology”.

Oh really? I googled “Australian Bureau of Criminology” and I came up blank. There is an “Australian INSTITUTE of Criminology” but Rob's source doesn't reference any particular report or website, so I don't know where they got their data from. In fact, it is likely they pulled it out of their asses.

This information about the high rate of 2006 gun murders is totally at odds with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which shows that in 2006, gun homicides in Australia were at an all time LOW.

Here is a graph from UTS. See that huge drop after 1996? That's when Johnny Howard introduced the National Firearm Agreement and the buy-back scheme that aimed to eliminate semi-automatic firearms in Australia. It appears that our gun homicide rate fell by 50% immediately and has continued to drop.

gun homicides australia

Tell me again how “gun control don't stop murder from happening”?

This second graph is from the ABS and shows the falling rates of guns homicides as a percentage of all homicides. Again – a big drop off after 1996. Although this chart stops at 2003, the ABS site for 2006 confirms that the percentage of homicides from firearms in 2006 was an all-time low.


homicides australia as percentage

Unfortunately, Rob's source was the “National Center For Policy Analysis” which, according to SourceWatch, is funded by conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers. You can tell people are desperate when they resort to making up bullshit to support their arguments. Of course, most of their readers are not likely to do their own research, much like Fox News viewers, and will just regurgitate the NCPA's claims.

The real question is whether or not the NFA had much of an impact on overall homicides or if they were already dropping due to other factors. What we *do* know for certain is that there hasn't been another mass shooting in Australia since 1996. However homicides have only demonstrated a slight decrease since then. The rise in sexual assault is thought to be an increase in reporting of sexual assault, not an actual increase in incidents.

By the way, here is a chart of America's gun homicides since 1998:

gun homicides USA

So, the next time you hear someone tell you that gun control didn't work in Australia, you can just send them to this post and facepalm.





10 thoughts on “The Facts About Guns In Australia

  1. Unfortunately it’s not that black and white. An enormous number of Americans appear to want to be blinded to other countries’ experiences. They believe they are “the leaders of the free world” (they’re the only ones who refer to themselves that way, of course), and that gun ownership of all kinds is key to that leadership. Australia is so very different a culture. In the US, every time Obama has been re-elected, people buying guns goes through the roof because they think the liberals will “take their guns.” The “preppers” (which the mother of the shooter, and the owner of these guns was a part of) believe they will need to have a good arsenal of guns to protect themselves and their families in a disaster event. None of that is upheld in research. They don’t care. The USA is a really, really scary place to live. After being here for more than 4 years, and seeing and hearing the convictions of the people who believe this, I can not see a way around it.

  2. If gun control isn’t the biggest case of the population being blinded by vested interests, then I will go hee. I was ready to crack this morning listening to Americans being interviewed on the radio, still parroting the same old BS, “If guns are outlawed, then only the outlaws will have guns”, and “the constitution guarantees me the right to bear arms”. The gun manufacturers have been so successful at placing these memes into the mouths of the people, that the people ignore the payola to the politicians who turn a blind eye. Frankly, I wouldn’t debate these idiots. I vacillate from wanting to right this wrong, and giving them what they want, a death match with guns in the octagon.

  3. Nice post! If anything it’s more dramatic than that example.

    The Australian gun laws targeted just *one* issue – mass gun killings – that were on the rise. They targeted just the types of guns (and means of getting them) that the most recent killer used.

    The dramatic effectiveness of this approach can be vividly seen in this chart:

    Amazing, huh?

    All the other benefits are seen as just icing on the cake.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Australia has continued to have roughly 300 homicides per year, before and after the ban, with knife homicides increasing faster than firearm homicides. Then robberies shot up after the ban, as did sexual assault. And to this day there are still black market guns being found in Australia. So you can quit lying at any time, though.
    Source from the australian government:

    1. The point, of course, that you’re ignoring is that Australia HASN’T HAD A SINGLE MASS SHOOTING IN 20 YEARS. Meanwhile homicides have gone down ( Robberies went up for a few years afterwards but since then they have plummeted. Sexual assault went up by a small margin, then dropped back down to where they already were. And there’s been analysis on sexual assault data that strongly suggests the increase is due to people being more confident over the last 20 years to report sexual assault (esp from the likes of Catholic priests). SO: Summary – no mass shootings, homicide has fallen, robbery has fallen, sexual assault (which has nothing to do with semi-automatic weapons anyway, so is completely beside the point) has stayed the same.

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