Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Obama, Australia, and Gun Control

Following the Umpqua Community College mass shooting, President Obama gave another speech advocating gun control.  An excerpt follows:
We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours -- Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours.  So we know there are ways to prevent it.
Then, he goes on to talk about "common sense" gun control laws. So somehow, we are supposed to believe, that if we did what Australia did, all our mass shootings would just go away.

But we need to understand just what was done in Australia.

They banned all semi-automatic weapons and literally confiscated nearly a million of them from their citizens through a constitutionally mandated buy-back program.  They did this with a simple parliamentary vote in 1996 following another mass shooting in their country. It is now, in most cases,  punishable by imprisonment to own a semi-automatic weapon there.

So, the real question is whether or not Australia's severe gun control laws had any impact on homicides and mass shootings.

First, mass shootings nearly disappeared since the passage of the 1996 law. However, also understand that neighboring New Zealand experienced a similar drop despite not having enacted any ban on semi-automatics. In fact, the incidents of mass shootings in both Australia and New Zealand have tracked very close to each other since 1969. Thus, implying that the absence of mass shootings had more to do with societal changes and little to do with any presence or lack of weapons.

Also, there was no perceptible change in the decline of firearm-related deaths which started in 1969; nearly 3 decades before the ban on semi-automatics and as noted by this Australian government chart:

Also, the next chart shows that homicides actually spiked after the law went into effect:

In our own country, gun violence has been steadily declining since peaking in 1993; proving again that societal changes are at play, not any type of gun restrictions.

It never ceases to amaze me how impassioned Obama has become over gun control since the House of Representatives became majority-controlled by the GOP in 2011.  Where was that same passion when he had control of both Houses in 2009 and 2010?  In 2009, there was the horrific Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook, yet neither Obama nor the Democrats did anything about it. Where was the passage of any single "common sense" gun control law in those two years?  Personally, I believe that the President would actually prefer that no new gun control laws are passed right now so that he and the other Democrats can use it as a political weapon against the GOP.  He also has to know that according to Gallup 47% of Americans own guns, and that the fastest growth groups of gun ownership are woman, and yes, Democrats; with 43% and 40% ownership, respectively.  Also, according to the NRA, half of all guns sold in the last few years are semi-automatics.  Gun ownership is just too high a hurdle for Obama and the Democrats to get anything done here.

Lastly, while mass shootings have dwindled to near nothing in Australia, mass killings haven't.  Just as the Boston Marathon bombers didn't need a semi-automatic weapon to kill 3 and injure 264, Australians don't need semi-automatics to kill a lot of people. Instead, they use arson, hammers, and knives to commit mass murder.  Would you prefer repeated blows to the head with a hammer or a single shot from a gun?


Watch President Obama's Statement on the Shooting in Oregon: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/10/01/watch-president-obamas-statement-shooting-oregon

Gun Laws: Australia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_Australia

Australian Institute of Criminology: Homicides: http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html

Gun Violence in the U.S.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States

Australian Mass Murders: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_mass_murders

Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993: http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/self-reported-gun-ownership-highest-1993.aspx

Semi-Automatic Firearms and the “Assault Weapon” Issue Overview: https://www.nraila.org/articles/20130215/assault-weapons-overview

Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting

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