From time to time, often when I write on the latest shooting in a gun free zone, a correspondent from Australia comments. And comments. And comments. And…
Because he has little or nothing good to say about America and Americans, and approaches the issues from a position of Australian moral superiority, he often angers other readers, who frequently wonder why I don’t just shut him out. I occasionally wonder that too, but ultimately, I generally–not always–think it best to allow such people to fully express themselves, the better to introduce themself to everyone. The first Amendment can take the heat, and I’ve learned long ago not to directly engage such people.
I’ve also learned long ago not to attempt comparisons between nations on virtually any issue. Such attempts are virtually never valid, and equally non-illuminating. In addition, I have no animosity toward Australia. Unlike Mr. Obama, I tend to like and support America’s allies. Despite the obvious observation that even some of the citizens of our allies hate America, we remain–despite our problems, and they are many and serious–the shining city on the hill, the land to which people flee for salvation.
While visiting my usual, daily Internet spots, I came across an informative piece by Scott Johnson at Powerline regarding the reality of gun control in Australia. Some excerpts:
What does this [Mr. Obama’s claims about the gun control wonders of England and Australia] mean? Great Britain effectively banned handguns in two 1997 laws (details here). Australia effectively banned semiautomatic rifles as well as certain categories of shotguns, implemented strict licensing and registration requirements, and instituted a mandatory buyback program in 1996 (details here). When Obama refers to Great Britain and Australia in this context, he is referring to the respective programs of banning and/or confiscation they adopted.
Charles Cooke briefly noted the implication of Obama’s statement last week at NR here. “In plainspeak,” Cooke explained this past July, ‘that’s ‘confiscation.’ Were the United States to do this — and it can’t, because it’s illegal – the federal government would have to confiscate around 150 million firearms[.]’ Cooke made the same point last year after Obama plugged ‘Australia’ while speaking to users of the blogging platform Tumblr.
This summer the Federalist published Varad Mehta’s column on the Australian law as “The Australian gun control fallacy.”. Now NR assistant editor Mark Antonio Wright reviews the Australian law and the argument over its effects in the column “Australia’s 1996 gun confiscation didn’t work and it wouldn’t work in America.” Wright too parses the meaning of ‘Australia.’ ‘Australia’ is Obama’s preferred euphemism for that most cherished of gun-control ideals: mass confiscation of the citizenry’s weapons.
By all means, take not only the link to Johnson’s article and read it all, but if you’re inclined to be well-informed on this particularly sub-issue in the gun control debate, take the many links within that article.
JOHN adds: Whatever Australia did, it was not as successful in reducing homicides as what we have done here in the U.S. This chart comes from the Australian government. Note that there was no apparent reduction in homicides after the gun confiscation/ban/buyback of 1996. Years later, the homicide rate declined
But nowhere near as sharply as the homicide rate has declined here in the United States since the mid-1990s. Whatever we have done in the U.S., whether or not you credit more liberal carry laws and more widespread ownership of handguns, it has worked far better than the approach to homicide that has been taken in Australia.
Liberals sometimes try to obscure these basic facts by talking about “gun homicides” or restricting the conversation to mass shootings. But the point of gun control isn’t to force criminals to use knives and clubs, as they do in England; the point is to reduce the number of murders. Likewise, mass shootings are so rare that statistics don’t mean much. (Norway was doing great on mass shootings until Anders Breivik came along.) Again, the point is not to cause people to be murdered individually rather than in groups. The only rational goal of gun control or other such measures is to reduce the overall rate of homicides. Neither Australia nor the United Kingdom has been anywhere near as successful as the U.S. in that respect.
The tool isn’t the issue; it never was. It is the evil that seizes and controls the human heart that kills, in America, Australia, and everywhere else on this fallen world.