Murders in Australia actually are down to record lows after gun control

Started Dec 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Joe Ogiba
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Murders in Australia actually are down to record lows after gun control
Dec 22, 2012



The e-mail says that "[i]t has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms." Actually, it’s been 13 years since Australian gun law was originally changed. In 1996, the government banned some types of guns, instituted a buyback program and imposed stricter licensing and registration requirements. Gun ownership rates in Australia declined from 7 percent to 5 percent. Another law in 2002 tightened restrictions a bit more, restricting caliber, barrel length and capacity for sport shooting handguns.

Have murders increased since the gun law change, as claimed? Actually, Australian crime statistics show a marked decrease in homicides since the gun law change. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, a government agency, the number of homicides in Australia did increase slightly in 1997 and peaked in 1999, but has since declined to the lowest number on record in 2007, the most recent year for which official figures are available.

Furthermore, murders using firearms have declined even more sharply than murders in general since the 1996 gun law. In the seven years prior to 1997, firearms were used in 24 percent of all Australian homicides. But most recently, firearms were used in only 11 percent of Australian homicides, according to figures for the 12 months ending July 1, 2007. That’s a decline of more than half since enactment of the gun law to which this message refers.

Some scholars even credit the 1996 gun law with causing the decrease in deaths from firearms, though they are still debating that point. A 2003 study from AIC, which looked at rates between 1991 and 2001, found that some of the decline in firearm-related homicides (and suicides as well) began before the reform was enacted. On the other hand, a 2006 analysis by scholars at the University of Sydney concluded that gun fatalities decreased more quickly after the reform. Yet another analysis, from 2008, from the University of Melbourne, concluded that the buyback had no significant effect on firearm suicide or homicide rates.

So there’s no consensus about whether the changes decreased gun violence or had little to no effect. But the only argument we’ve seen arguing that it caused an increase in murder comes from our anonymous e-mail author.

The claims about Australian gun control were circulating as far back as 2001, when Snopes.com went over them and concluded that they were a "small, mixed grab bag of short-term statistics" signifying little.

http://www.factcheck.org/2009/05/gun-control-in-australia/

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