Friday, December 28, 2012

How Has Heightened Gun Control Worked in Australia and Britain?

How Has Heightened Gun Control Worked in Australia and Britain?:
Via RealClearPolitics comes this

Wall Street Journal piece
by historian Joyce Lee Malcolm. She
notes that both Australia and the United Kingdom have had tight
restrictions on legal gun ownership for decades but have still
experienced mass shootings. In the wake of a particularly grisly
1996 slaughter in Dunblane, Scotland, British authorities responded
in ways now urged by American supporters of gun control.
A media frenzy coupled with an emotional campaign by parents of
Dunblane resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a
nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to
turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up
to 10 years in prison....
Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of
handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled
according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a
serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some
British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another
massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in
Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through
rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before
killing himself.
In Australia, Malcolm writes, a horrific mass shooting in
Tasmania just a few weeks after the Dunblane massacre led to
similar legislative results.
Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement, banning all
semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic and pump-action shotguns and
imposing a more restrictive licensing system on other firearms....
Between Oct. 1, 1996, and Sept. 30, 1997, the government purchased
and destroyed more than 631,000 of the banned guns at a cost of
$500 million.
To what end? While there has been much controversy over the
result of the law and buyback, Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, in a
2003 study published by the Brookings Institution, found homicides
"continued a modest decline" since 1997. They concluded that the
impact of the National Firearms Agreement was "relatively small,"
with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%....
In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a
decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed
robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults
and 20% in sexual assaults.
Malcolm sums up:
Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven't made
their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres.
The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don't
provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our
problems.

Read the whole thing.

This is possibly the toughest reality to face, in
the wake of a terrifying and senseless event such as the Sandy Hook
shooting: That there is ultimately very little that can be done to
make sure something like it doesn't happen again. Part of that is
because such events are so (thankfully) rare that no system can
avoid them completely. Certainly, forcing law-abiding people to
give up their rights, or treating schoolkids even more like
prisoners, or arming principals or teachers or posting cops outside
every locker room or whatever won't do much (if anything) to
accomplish the goal of a safer society.
Back in 2002, Malcolm wrote about "Gun
Control's Twisted Outcome
" for Reason. And in 2003, she
explained how and why one
of the most widely praised history
books about guns in the United States - Arming America, by
Michael Bellesiles, was riddled with so many errors and so much
fraud that Bellesiles was fired by Emory University. For a bonus,

read some
of Bellesiles smug, curt dismissal of Reason's
coverage of his book.
Reason.com on Sandy Hook
shooting
.