We hear time and again from anti gun people that “Australia saw a 50% reduction in their murder rate after passing a gun ban.” Is this really true? Let’s take a look at the facts.
In the wake of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, where a man went on a shooting spree which killed 35 people and injured 23 more, Australia passed a law This law, the Medicare Levy Amendment Act of1996, mandated that many had to turn in their guns in exchange for $500. It was passed without true representation. When pro gun people attempted to join political parties and to vote, they were prohibited from doing so by the anti gun politicians and court (pdf warning). This confiscation was completed on September 30, 1997.
EDITED TO ADD: There are numerous newspaper articles that detail how the Liberal party of the country did all in their power to keep people from being able to vote on the issue. Here is an example, and a quote:
The Queensland Liberal Party plans to thoroughly check new membership
applications in order to prevent members of the gun lobby joining and
challenging the preselection of politicians who support gun controls.
The New South Wales Liberal Party will have prospective new members
forms checked at their head office.
There was also talk about “extremists” infiltrating the parties. These “extremists” were eventually not permitted to vote:
Atkins examines whether the increased activity of the far right over the
past two months reflects something serious in Australian politics, and
whether it poses a threat to the National Party. He canvasses the
opinions of Andrew Moore, Gerard Henderson and Liz Van Acker, who feel
that the potential infiltration of the National Party branches is a more
serious issue than the emergence of a new party. The mainstream right
needs to confront right wing extremists in the same way that Labor has
taken on left wing extremists. Politicians must also put themselves back
in touch with what is happening outside the major urban areas.
Can’t have those extremists voting. Only people who have the approved opinion may vote.
The laws in effect in Australia are much more strict than in the US, and as a result, only 5% of the public owns firearms. The anti gun people here in the US insist that this resulted in a 50% reduction in the Australian murder rate. The Australian government has tracked homicide statistics under the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) since 1989.
According to the NHMP, the highest murder rate in the country’s history was in 1999, with 344 murders being reported. That was TWO YEARS AFTER the strict gun laws went into effect. In fact, the number of murders in Australia have remained steady at between 250 and 350 murders for the entire time that the government has been tracking the statistics.
There has been a 5% reduction in the number of murders in the 20 years since the new gun laws, but there was a similar reduction in the years BEFORE the law went into effect as well, indicating that there was already an overall reduction underway without new gun laws.
So where do the anti gun folks get their “fact” about a 50% reduction from? From 1915 to 1996, about 30% of homicides in Australia were committed by people wielding firearms. From 1996 onwards, that has fallen to about 15%. So what we have seen is a 50% reduction in FIREARM murders, but we have seen a corresponding increase in non-firearm murders, so that the overall rate of homicide has remained unchanged.
It doesn’t matter whether a person is killed with a gun, a stick, or a balled up fist, they are still dead. Unless, of course, you have a political agenda.