10-24-2006, 10:18 AM
Buyback has no effect on murder rate
HALF a billion dollars spent buying back hundreds of thousands of guns after the Port Arthur massacre had no effect on the homicide rate, says a study published in an influential British journal.
The report by two Australian academics, published in the British Journal of Criminology, said statistics gathered in the decade since Port Arthur showed gun deaths had been declining well before 1996 and the buyback of more than 600,000 mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns had made no difference in the rate of decline.
The only area where the package of Commonwealth and State laws, known as the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) may have had some impact was on the rate of suicide, but the study said the evidence was not clear and any reductions attributable to the new gun rules were slight.
"Homicide patterns (firearm and non-firearm) were not influenced by the NFA, the conclusion being that the gun buyback and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia," the study says.
In his first year in office, the Prime Minister, John Howard, forced through some of the world's toughest gun laws, including the national buyback scheme, after Martin Bryant used semi-automatic rifles to shoot dead 35 people at Port Arthur.
Although furious licensed gun-owners said the laws would have no impact because criminals would not hand in their guns, Mr Howard and others predicted the removal of so many guns from the community, and new laws making it harder to buy and keep guns, would lead to a reduction in all types of gun-related deaths.
One of the authors of the study, Jeanine Baker, said she knew in 1996 it would be impossible for years to know whether the Prime Minister or the shooters were right.
"I have been collecting data since 1996 Ö The decision was we would wait for a decade and then evaluate," she said.
The findings were clear, she said: "The policy has made no difference. There was a trend of declining deaths that has continued."
Dr Baker and her co-author, Samara McPhedran, declared their membership of gun groups in the article, something Dr Baker said they had done deliberately to make clear "who we are" and head off any possible criticism that they had hidden relevant details.
The significance of the article was not who had written it but the fact it had been published in a respected journal after the regular rigorous process of being peer reviewed, she said.
Politicians had assumed tighter gun laws would cut off the supply of guns to would-be criminals and that homicide rates would fall as a result, the study said. But more than 90 per cent of firearms used to commit homicide were not registered, their users were not licensed and they had been unaffected by the firearms agreement.
Dr Baker said many more lives would have been saved had the Government spent the $500 million on mental health or other programs rather than on destroying semi-automatic weapons.
She believed semi-automatic rifles should be available to shooters, although with tight restrictions such as those in place in New Zealand.
The director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, Dr Don Weatherburn, said he was not surprised by the study. He said it showed "politicians would be well advised to claim success of their policies after they were evaluated, not before".
Hey gun control freaks! Stick this in your bong and toke it!:respect:
10-24-2006, 04:52 PM
Has there ever been a successful* guy buy-back in the history of any nation?
* Successful = leads to a reduction in crime.
Or have they all just accomplished the disarmament, in part or in whole, of the law abiding non-criminal element of any given society? I cannot recall any successful gun buy back that resulted in an actual crime reduction, but then again I don't read every study published. There have been gun buy backs that have occurred while crime rates were already trending down and I've been aware of some groups claiming that the buy back was the result, when it was clearly not the case to any rational thinking person. But seriously, any actual proof that crime goes down after a buy back?
10-24-2006, 05:43 PM
This study is just a little biased:yum:
A NEW study claims Australia's $500 million gun buy-back has failed to make the nation safer.
The study, by two pro-gun lobbyists, says the removal of 640,000 firearms from society has not led to fewer gun-related deaths. Samara McPhedran, of the International Coalition of Women in Shooting and Hunting, and Dr Jeanine Baker, president of the Sporting Shooters Association, said figures showed gun murder rates had not changed since the 1996 buy-back.
But University of Sydney public health professor Simon Chapman slammed the study.
He said it didn't differentiate between single deaths and massacres that the gun laws were designed to prevent.
10-24-2006, 06:16 PM
Seems like the short story you posted is biased on the other side. I suppose if you ONLY consider the mass shooting as justification then it did work. But if you consider the overall murder rate then it obviously didn't.
I pose my question again, has there ever been a successful gun buy back that actually reduced crime/murder over the long term?
10-25-2006, 03:32 PM
The buy back was a reaction to the massacre in Tasmania by Martin Bryant. So clearly the intent of the buy back by parliament was to try reduce these styles of incidents. So to date it has been 100% successful.
Unless "masssacres" such as that one occurred with some regularity and then ceased after the buyback, I don't see how anyone can be certain that it was successful in preventing another. Was there a history of other such incidents in Australia before the Bryant incident?
11-03-2006, 03:33 PM
The buy back was a reaction to the massacre in Tasmania by Martin Bryant. So clearly the intent of the buy back by parliament was to try reduce these styles of incidents. So to date it has been 100% successful.
The study proves nothing anyway; all it says is that the decline in crime has continued to fall. Who is to say that if the buy back had not happened that that decline may not have reversed?
I donít follow the gun industry but it is legal to own curtain arms in this country unlike what many in the USA seem to believe. All nations draw a line of what fire power an individuals can own.
The only way you can say this for sure is to look back thru history and see how many other incidents like this there were. Was Australia having psychopaths gun down 35 people at a pop over and over again? or was this a historical anamoly? If Australia was having a couple of incidents like this every year for years - then the gun ban went in - and they all stopped, well then yes. You could say the ban helped to stop the murders. But just because there has been no mass murders with a semi automatic weapon in 10 years does not prove the ban was worth anything.
This is the same thing as saying that outlawing rope is stop people from hanging themselves - the reality is that if you outlaw rope you might stop somebody from hanging themself - with a piece of rope. You also however stop anybody who might use a piece of rope to climb up the tree and save that hanging person from ever doing so. And the person who wants to hang himself will just use his shirt if he can't find some rope. What are you going to do next - ban shirts?
11-28-2006, 07:37 PM
I find Dr Don Weatherburn's comments during an ABC Radio National Law Report (http://www.abc.net.au/rn/lawreport/stories/2006/1776336.htm#) interview interesting, especially the part about Chapman and Alpers making inaccurate statements:
This transcript was typed from a recording of the program. The ABC cannot guarantee its complete accuracy because of the possibility of mishearing and occasional difficulty in identifying speakers.
Damien Carrick: The latest issue of the respected British Journal of Criminology contains an article that has set the cat amongst the pigeons in far away Australia.
The article, titled 'Gun Laws and Sudden Death' concludes that Australia's tough gun control laws brought in post-Port Arthur, and the $600-million gun buyback have had no effect on the gun death rate.
To discuss the study I'm joined by:
Samara McPhedran, the co-author of the report, and also the Chair of Wish, the International Coalition of Women in Shooting and Hunting;
Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Law at Sydney University and a longtime campaigner for tighter gun laws; and
Don Weatherburn, director of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and widely regarded as Australia's leading crimes statistician. I asked Don Weatherburn is this a reputable study?
Don Weatherburn: I think it is reputable. I think it's well-conducted, it's perhaps not without fault, in the sense that one would hope to find a more powerful test, but that's no criticism of the authors, it's just that there's not a lot of data in the homicide series to play with. It's not the first, I think it's the third that I've seen, but they all point in the same direction; they show no acceleration of the downward trend in gun homicide after the gun buyback and the tougher gun laws.
Damien Carrick: Well Samara McPhedran, you're the co-author of the article; what for you are the key conclusions of your study?
Samara McPhedran: Well the key conclusion is that there's certainly a need for more research in the area. As Don said, this is the third in an increasing series of studies and each of these studies points to the fact that the gun laws didn't alter the pre-existing downwards trend in gun homicide. An interesting finding for me was also that we could not conclude that the laws had any impact on firearm suicide, because what we found was that around the late 1990s, suicides using other methods also started to decline.
Damien Carrick: Well Simon Chapman, you're a long-term advocate for gun control; this isn't good news for you, is it?
Simon Chapman: I've got a major concern that the focus of this research has asked the wrong question. When John Howard introduced the gun laws in 1996, he didn't say 'We're introducing these new laws to reduce the incidence of domestic violence homicides', he didn't say, 'We're introducing these new laws to reduce the incidence of criminals shooting each other over drug deals', in fact what he did say, and I can quote, is 'How is it that weapons of this kind' (these are semi-automatic rapid-fire weapons) 'are still available and what earthly purpose is served by their free availability?' And he said this of course because just weeks before, Martin Bryant who had no previous criminal record, had used one of these guns to kill 35 people. He did it because of a spate of these massacres, which had occurred in the ten years before. In fact there are 11 of them, where 100 people were killed, and every one who was around at the time knows that that's why John Howard introduced these laws.
Now if you look at the paper by Samara and her colleague, amazingly there is no mention whatsoever, not even one sentence, examining the question of Did the 1996 gun laws do anything to change the incidence of gun massacres like these?
Damien Carrick: My understanding is that in the ten years before Port Arthur, we had something like 11 mass shootings. After Port Arthur, after the 1996 gun laws, we've had zero mass shootings. Samara McPhedran, that's got to count for something, surely?
Samara McPhedran: Firstly, between 1989 and 1999, there were 13 mass murder incidents in Australia; less than half involved a firearm. And secondly, in terms of the study, we looked at total gun deaths. This of course includes incidents of mass shootings. Now I would have to ask whether we have four people killed in one day or one person killed each day for four days, I would like to think that each of those deaths is equally important. So that's why we looked at total gun deaths.
Simon Chapman: Damien, if I can just use a bit of an analogy here: imagine that there'd been a spate of railway crossing smashes, as we often hear of, and imagine a government that said 'Look, we can do something about this, and we're going to reintroduce alarmed barriers on every road and rail crossing in Australia'. Now ten years down the track, some researchers like Samara might come up and say, 'Let's look and see what has happened to the total road toll.' And that's a legitimate question. But the more fundamental question of course is did the introduction of barriers reduce railway crossing deaths as planned? John Howard -
Samara McPhedran: The fundamental question...
Simon Chapman: Excuse me, Samara...
Samara McPhedran: ...whether this measure reduced firearm deaths overall -
Simon Chapman: Why did John Howard...
Samara McPhedran: ...80% of which are suicides, and again I have to return to the fact that there is no conclusive evidence that these laws have achieved any public health and safety outcomes.
Damien Carrick: Simon Chapman.
Simon Chapman: The elephant in the living room here that Samara and her colleague want to completely avoid is the fact that John Howard didn't prohibit all guns, he only prohibited the sorts of guns which were used by gunmen in these massacres. He didn't prohibit single shot guns. Many shooters handed those in as well.
Samara McPhedran: Well I agree that there is an elephant in the living room; it's large, white, cost about $500 million and is distracting us from the man-eating tiger in the corner, Simon.
Simon Chapman: Which is what?
Samara McPhedran: The fact that these measures cannot be shown to have improved for all their price tag, they can't be shown to have improved public health and safety.
Damien Carrick: And I understand that you would argue that the $500 million could perhaps have been better spent on other programs, such as suicide prevention, or mental health programs. Now Don Weatherburn, what's your view of this debate?
Don Weatherburn: Well points and crosses to both sides. I think firstly starting with Simon, he's being a little disingenuous here because he and Phillip Alpers wrote a piece for The Age on April 26 or 28, talking about the drop in mass shootings, but highlighting more than anything else, the drop in firearm homicide, who said the downward trend has been more dramatic, and he identified two periods and said it was now falling 70 times faster than after the gun laws than before. And I think there was a problem with that arithmetic, and I think it's been satisfactorily dealt with by Samara's work.
On the other hand, I think the mass shootings issue is a separate issue. I'm not sure that I could agree that there's no greater benefit in avoiding a Port Arthur massacre than there is in avoiding the same number of deaths spread over a longer period of time, and I don't think the vote is in on that, I think one should keep an open mind on the possibility that the gun buy-back might have had an effect there. It's just too soon to tell, because the incidence of these homicides is very low; in fact people talk about the frequency of these events before the gun buy-back. The truth is, if you look over a long period, there was about one incident per year in which four or more people died. So when they're that rare, it's very hard to pick up any change. So that's what I think at the moment on what's been said so far.
Damien Carrick: But surely, 11 incidents in a 10-year period before 1996 and zero incidents post 1996 10-year period, that's a substantial figure, that's a real figure.
Don Weatherburn: Well it's suggestive, but look, I can't tell you the number of times in which I get people ringing me up to say Look, we've had – the telly does this all the time, we've had six armed robberies in a week, this is surely a crime wave. And of course they won't tell you about the weeks when there were no armed robberies. It's no use just looking at a convenient period before and after and making judgments on that basis, whether you're a gun opponent or a gun supporter. You really need to look back long enough to rule out the possibility that the change has come about by chance. Now I'm not saying there isn't an effect, I'm not taking a position on this. What I'm saying is, that the jury, academic and scholarly jury, isn't back yet on that question.
Simon Chapman: I think what we need to emphasise here though is that the people who committed this mass mayhem, people like Bryant and Julian Knight, these were people who were licensed hitherto...
Samara McPhedran: But Simon, you're still only focusing on...
Simon Chapman: Excuse me, Samara.
Samara McPhedran: ...on one issue.
Damien Carrick: Let Simon Chapman put his point.
Simon Chapman: Thank you. Little predictable interruptions are happening here. These were people who were hitherto, had no criminal record whatsoever; they wouldn't have been people who would have been picked up by mental health interventions, that Samara suggests the money should have been spent on; they were people who had access to a means of going into a public place, like a shopping centre or a public street or the Broad Arrow Café, and killing a lot of people fast, with the weapons that people like Samara would like to see made freely available.
Damien Carrick: Samara McPhedran?
Samara McPhedran: Well I think we're getting some very predictable sidetracks here, but the fact is, and as I think perhaps Don could comment on, what we know now, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology, is that about 90% of firearm homicides are committed by unlicensed persons, and about 95% of the firearms are unregistered. So this very strongly points to the issue of illicit firearm use, and more needs to be done to tackle that.
Also we do need to keep in mind again, that although Simon is focusing on mass shootings, we have to deal with the issue which is that the gun laws, introduced at great expense, cannot be said to have had any impact on overall levels of public health and safety.
Damien Carrick: Don Weatherburn, does that mean that we say that the gun buy-back scheme has not been a proven success?
Don Weatherburn: Could the money have been better spent? There's no way of knowing. I mean it's an absolutely crucial question, but as so often with law and order problems, there's only one response. There isn't an evaluation of alternative strategies, so there's no way of knowing whether the $600-million would have been better spent on psychiatric care or some other form of public health initiative.
I think you've also got to be careful here about being wise after the fact. When the gun buy-back was instituted, when the National Firearms Act was brought into play, the best available evidence suggested a strong relationship between levels of gun ownership and levels of gun homicide. So I think notwithstanding the work that Samara's done, it was a reasonable move at the time, to go for a buy-back and tougher gun laws, that's where the evidence stood at that moment; it was a wise decision then. We now know ten years later, that there was no acceleration of the downward trend. But it would be unfair on the basis of what we know now to criticise policy-makers acting on the basis of the information they had then.
Damien Carrick: But on the basis of Samara McPhedran's research, should we now say Let's re-evaluate those policies?
Don Weatherburn: Well for my money, given what's been happening to the homicide rate anyway: in New South Wales for example it's gone from two per 100,000 of population down to one, the emerging problem is there's shooting incidents involving hand guns and young people in south-western Sydney. What worries me about that is that when a similar situation developed in the United States, gang war started erupting and the youth homicide rate skyrocketed up in the States; that's the last thing we need here. So for my money, the key priority in relation to guns at the moment, is not family homicide, although that's important, it's the misuse, the acquisition of hand guns by young people and the use of those hand guns in the commission of other kinds of crime.
Damien Carrick: And what sorts of policies do we need to tackle that problem, that availability?
Don Weatherburn: Well for a start I think the registration process has been helpful, but really it's not so much a matter of policies, but hard detective work. The police need to be adequately resourced to track the sources of these importations and the sources of these domestic diversions to identify and apprehend the people who are doing it. I don't know any other strategy, other than locking up the people who are engaged in the firearm trafficking, and the people who are misusing the firearms. I mean of course there are longer-term strategies, making sure that we don't have high levels of poverty and disadvantage, but in the short run it's good law enforcement that's going to have to help us out here.
Damien Carrick: Well we might leave it there.
Samara McPhedran, Chair of Wish, the International Coalition of Women in Shooting and Hunting, thank you very much.
Don Weatherburn, Director of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics; and Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Law at Sydney University. Thank you all for speaking on The Law Report today.
ALL: Thank you.
Damien Carrick: That's the Law Report for this week.
Chair, International Coalition of Women in Shooting and Hunting (WISH) and co-author of the report 'Gun Laws and Sudden Death'
Professor of public law, Sydney University, and campaigner for tighter gun laws
Director, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics
11-28-2006, 09:14 PM
Hey, correct me if I am wrong but there has not been a public mass murdering since the buy back. So if this is the case one can argue that to date it has worked.
You are corrected - before there was the buyback how many times were there mass killings? If there were mass killings all the time before the buyback (when guns were much more prevalent) - and now after the buyback there are no killings then you might have a cause and effect relationship. If not then all you have are two disconnected events and the fact there have been no mass killings does not prove anything.
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