Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Faking waves: how the NRA and pro-gun Americans abuse Australian crime stats

The Sandy Hook massacre and President Obama’s response to it has refocused attention on impact of regulation on American gun crime. Crime statistics before and after the implementation of gun laws provide…

An American protesting the easy availability of military style weapons in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. EPA/Michael Reynolds

The Sandy Hook massacre and President Obama’s response to it has refocused attention on impact of regulation on American gun crime. Crime statistics before and after the implementation of gun laws provide a quantifiable measure of their impact. As a consequence, Australia’s gun laws and their impact have become part of the American gun debate.

In the wake of the Port Arthur massacre and Monash University shootings, the conservative government of John Howard introduced a series of gun laws. These restricted who could own guns and the type of guns they could own.

While the impact of the Australian gun laws is still debated, there have been large decreases in the number of firearm suicides and the number of firearm homicides in Australia. Homicide rates in Australia are only 1.2 per 100,000 people, with less than 15% of these resulting from firearms.

Prior to the implementation of the gun laws, 112 people were killed in 11 mass shootings. Since the implementation of the gun laws, no comparable gun massacres have occurred in Australia.

Remarkably, American pro-gun advocates try to use the impact of the Australian gun law reform to make a case that reform “doesn’t work”. This seems amazing given the homicide rate in the United States is five per 100,000 people, with most homicides involving firearms.

When gun advocates use Australian crime stats, they sometimes employ a number of misleading tricks and sleights of hand. These tricks are common to several politically charged debates, and are a form of pseudo-science. Let’s look at these tricks in action.

Cherry picking

The selective use of data, or cherry picking, is a commonly used method of extracting the “right” answer. This is true even when all the data tells a completely different story.

Cherry picking often exploits random fluctuations in data. Firearm deaths in Australia have declined over the past two decades, but from year-to-year one can see variations up and down. Bigger fractional fluctuations are likely if you shrink your sample size.

Leading US pro-gun lobby group the National Rifle Association (NRA) was cherry picking when its publication, NRA News, reported this statistic from New South Wales:

In the inner west, robberies committed with firearms skyrocketed more than 70% over the previous year, figures show.

Rather than giving the national trend over many years, the NRA chose one part, of one city, in one state and just two years of data. The NRA’s use of stats is misleading. Around Australia, robberies using firearms have declined from over 1500 per year in the 1990s to 1100 per year.

Look over there!

When the most relevant statistics give the “wrong” answer, advocates often switch to less relevant statistics that give the “right” answer.

In the Wall Street Journal, Joyce Lee Malcolm stated

In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults.

The implication is gun control has increased assaults and sexual assaults. This is completely misleading.

Weapons (including knives) are only used in 13% of assaults and 2% of sexual assaults in Australia. Firearms are rarely the weapon used, and only 0.3% of assaults in New South Wales used firearms.

Firearm use is almost completely irrelevant to assault and sexual assault in Australia, and cannot be driving changes in these crimes. Suggesting otherwise is deceptive.

A memorial service held at Port Arthur in 2006 to mark the 10th anniversary of the massacre perpetrated by Martin Bryant. AAP Image POOL Getty Images Ian Waldie

Logical fallacy

Logical fallacies are very common in charged political debates.

Homicide rates in both Australia and the US have varied for a number of reasons. Since the decline in the US occurred without effective gun controls, does this mean gun control is ineffective? No.

While some gun laws may be ineffective (laws with grandfather clauses, for example), it is wrong to conclude that all gun laws are ineffective. That’s like saying that because some cars are slow Datsuns, there cannot possibly be fast Ferraris.

Of course, this logical fallacy also ignores a gorilla in the room. Firearm deaths per capita in Australia are tiny compared to US firearm deaths per capita.

Making it up

If all else fails, there is a remarkably simple solution. Just make up some numbers. Over 300,000 people have recently viewed copies of an NRA tabloid infomercial which claims

[Australian] gun murders increased 19%.

This is just plain wrong.

However, inventing numbers is a remarkably effective approach, and isn’t limited to the internet. If you lie, how many people will check your numbers? If the lie is caught, how will that be communicated to your audience?

For the record, in Australia firearms are now used less in robberies, homicides and kidnappings than they were in the 1990s.

Back to reality

So what is the reality? Homicide and suicide rates have declined in Australia since the 1990s. Deaths results from firearms have plunged even more dramatically. In Australia, mass shootings similar to Port Arthur, Hoddle Street and Strathfield have not occurred for over a decade.

Is this the result of the gun laws introduced by the Howard government? While some (particularly gun advocates) dispute their impact, several studies conclude the laws have made a difference.

Claims that Australian gun laws have increased crime are pure spin and deception. They say more about American partisan politics than about the reality in Australia.

Join the conversation

276 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Rick Estes

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      What do you tell an Australian with two black eyes?

      Nothing, you have already told him twice.

      We could trade bards all day. For all the criticism it receives, the US is still the most coveted citizenship in the world.

      report
    2. Dan Fashaw

      Student

      In reply to Rick Estes

      Coveted by who?

      Americans, I'd agree with that. I don't covert the USA I enjoy the movies, music and TV it produces, but if I found myself to be jobless and homeless I would rather be in Australia than in America.

      report
    3. Paul Arnold

      Consultant

      In reply to Rick Estes

      In reply ot Rick Estes, not sure who covets it the most, certainly not I.

      report
    4. Ellen Rowatt

      Primary Care Nurse

      In reply to Rick Estes

      Where is the evidence to proove this Rick-I have never heard anyone say it. Any USA citizen who sees me as a nurse are in raptures about our health system.

      report
    5. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Rick Estes

      LOL

      Touche!

      I love that one.....I must remember it!

      report
    6. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Rick Estes

      "For all the criticism it receives, the US is still the most coveted citizenship in the world."

      This is more about perception than reality I reckon.

      I believe that the US has areas of poverty and lawlessness that are not far off those in the third world.

      report
    7. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      If you love them so much Michael then go and become a US citizen!

      report
    8. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      I lived in the US from 2000 until 2006, in Arizona and New Jersey. I continue to love and respect the US and its people, but the nation I identify with most is Australia.

      report
    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Ellen Rowatt

      Our uber logical NRA is saying we should ban hammers too. I guess they think their lobbying has even resulted in the presence of repeating hammers at hardware stores.
      ;]

      report
    2. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Of course when it comes to violent crimes, it is interesting how corporatised American law enforcement has dealt with violent crime statistics.
      Some regions have made adjustments like, if there was no accompanying visit to a hospital for injuries, the crime was non-violent, so you can now have non-violent rape and non-violent mugging, this in typical corporate fashion to allow you to 'market' improvements in crime statistics.
      So in Australia threatening someone with "knives, rocks, iron bars or glass" is considered a violent crime and in the US in many 'counties' it is not, unless they were actually used to inflict hospital level injury not to forget 40 million without health insurance.
      The United States of manure as truth ;).

      report
    3. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      This is a bit off topic but I've noticed Australians like to criticize the US health care system because its not socialist. However, that's not entirely true. The US government actually spends more per capita on public healthcare than Australia does. In fact, the US government spends more per capita on public healthcare than every other country except for Norway and Monaco. Mind you, that spending is reserved for senior citizens and those living in poverty. Those without healthcare are either 1) in the country illegally or 2) make enough to buy insurance but choose not to. I've known people who made $100K per year and did NOT have insurance. That's their own fault.

      report
    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Freddy says: " Australians like to criticize the US health care system because its not socialist. However, that's not entirely true. The US government actually spends more per capita on public healthcare than Australia does."

      Yes, Freddy, and do you want to know why, or just parrot?

      See we don't have a "socialist" system for anything -- that;'s why we could prea out $716 billion from just Medicare by eliminating spurious charges, etc. from the private companies who implement parts of our health-care…

      Read more
    5. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      G'day Alex -

      Along similar lines, I just got a new pile of New Yorkers delivered this morning and stumbled across an outstanding article on US prisons. Gee you folks do a lot of that.

      The author quotes the annual report of a private sector prisons operator talking about the threats to their cash-flow arising from the removal of compulsory sentences, reductions in drug possession penalties and the like.

      Gee I wonder if they'd have lobbyists and a PR firm at all? Purely in the public interest of course.

      Deeply disturbing what happens when one lets private hands into public pockets isn't it?

      I'll track it down for you if interested - a great piece actually.

      report
    6. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Thanks Peter, I ave read similar, because -- surprise -- Bain Capital has been a major investor in the private prison biz here. It was also involved with a gun-manufacturing holding company, as well as for-$ schools, like U of Phoenix, etc.
      .
      Y'know, how's a millionaire to become a billionaire these days!?
      ;]
      Folks like Romney, however, can help each of us learn how to get a $100,000,000 IRA, despite it being mathematically impossible!

      report
    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Helps if one doesn't actually earn an "income" apparently Alex. Mitt was paid during his term at Bain in a way that meant his "income" was regarded as capital gains under US tax law... most tax effective - as indeed is all Bain's business.

      We farmers have sprays for things like that here, Alex :)

      report
    8. Michael Davey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Actually, it's not just people who don't want insurance. It's also millions of people who can't afford insurance, because US healthcare is the most costly in the world.

      Unfortunately for many Americans who DO have insurance, they are only a catastrophic sickness away from bankruptcy because so often US insurance, even the best, doesn't cover nearly enough. The number one reason for personal bankruptcies in the USA is hospital bills.

      It's not just Australians who think the US healthcare system is broken. It's the rest of the western world. One think the US healthcare system IS good at? Repairing gun shot wounds. US surgeons get a lot of practice trying to save people who have been shot. Unlike many other countries in the western world where shootings are much less common.

      report
  2. Dirk Baltzly

    Professor of Philosophy at University of Tasmania

    Thanks for the useful article documenting these manipulations. I'm an ex-pat American myself and I have frequently been the recipient of absurdly misleading e-mails circulated to me by friends on the political right in the US explaining what a dangerous place Oz has become that we don't have our guns. I've become very tired of trying to debunk this stuff myself. Now I can just link to this. Many thanks!

    report
    1. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Dirk Baltzly

      Lately it's interesting to read some of the varied Australian waffle about the NRA - the 2nd amendment and its intent - and other stuff.

      Unnoticed here, it seems all too evident the NRA was hijacked years ago, where nowadays it is simply an arm of the gun manufacturers themselves - and may not represent the views of the wider NRA membership, who just love guns for the sake of owning and using guns, with no intent to use them on people. It is this industry engagement that's doing the NRA talking…

      Read more
  3. Kieran

    logged in via Twitter

    For an article which purports to set the record straight on Australian gun stats it seems quite strange that it would fail to mention that firearm homicides as a a proportion of homicides has been on the decline since the sixties (http://bit.ly/UtLxqP)...

    report
    1. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Kieran

      Actually Kieran, the article "purports to set the record straight on Australian gun stats" only with reference to the mis-use of such statistics by the US gun Lobby.

      Indeed, Michael says "the impact of the Australian gun laws is still debated" pointing to the ongoing discussion around Australian Firearm legislation.

      But that is not the primary concern being adressed.

      What the article seeks to do is shine a light on the post Buy Back statistics as this is the piece of legislation that is most commonly associated with NRA propoganda.

      In this instance, the downward trend since the 70s/80s is not as important as the continuation of this trend after the buy-back.

      Contrary to the assertions of the NRA, Australia has not descended into lawlessness, violence and fear as a result of firearms legislation.

      report
    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Kieran

      As I note in the article, the effectiveness of Australian gun laws is debated and gun violence/homicides can decrease for reasons other than gun laws (as has been seen in the US). However, that does not mean the Australian gun laws had no effect.

      The main focus of the article is the misuse of Australian statistics in the American gun debate. A discussion of the effectiveness of the Australian gun laws would be different (and potentially very interesting) article.

      The Australian homicide rate and the fraction of homicides using guns has continued to decline over the past decade. There haven’t been any mass shootings in Australia (resulting in 5 or more deaths) since Port Arthur. One can obviously debate why this has happened, but obviously this is a good thing.

      report
    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Raises an interesting thought in my addled mind Alex...

      How about making these gun shows "free fire zones" ... let any kid from Connecticut or Talahassee turn up with mum's kit, get themselves into a nifty possie and open up - the police will not intervene - no SWAT teams... we'll just leave it all up to our pistol packing populace to sort it all out.

      Gun shows would begin to look like Bruce Willis was doing the choreography. Reruns of the OK Corral or Die Hard. Maybe they could be themed. Successful expos would be judged on body counts. And it would be a practical example of how effectively a whole team of good guys with guns can handle things. Dress rehearsals for trainee teachers.

      Could solve everything. Call it going for a Constitutional....

      report
    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Good, Peter!

      My solution to the problem posed by NRA, etc. has been similar, though perhaps more calculated in brutality.
      ;]

      report
    3. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The injuries were the result of accidental discharge and not criminal intent. Yet you go off into some sick & twisted mass murder fantasy. You're a perfect example of the kind of radical who wants to ban guns.

      report
    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Darn tooting Freddy!

      Not everywhere though. I'm all in favour of folks like them ones here at thet thar gun show meeting up together packing more heat than the Mojave in July. I'd be all fer turnin' vast slabs of the US into open range target shooting zones myself - largely based on voting patterns. We'd show of red maps really look like.

      Living proof innit - guns don't kill people - nope it's people what kills people - cep'tn et gun shows... then it's jest the guns.

      report
    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Right, the "criminal intent" lies at the NRA leadership colluding with gun manufacturers' leadership, bribing legislators elected to serve us Americans, even the ones dumb enough to bring loaded weapons to a public gathering and not be savvy enough in their use to keep them from discharging.

      Yep, we have room in Gitmo for Wayne and Freedom Group execs, etc.
      ;]
      Yet to hear your manly reasons for any gun with trigger activation of either spent casing ejection or fresh cartridge load, Freddy.

      Wanna man up?
      ;]

      report
  4. David Clerke

    Teacher

    Not as bad as a lot of articles but one commentator has already shown gun deaths were declining at the same rate before Port Arthur as after and we now have more guns, owners and population than before Port Arthur and less deaths. I agree the NRA and others should not distort stats but this was done by Australian Embassies after Port Arthur. A friend of mine was called into correct them. The biggest lie in this matter is the Leigh/Chapman thesis that destroying firearms in 96 led to a progressive decline in gun related deaths which means that your chances of being killed depend on how long ago the gun was destroyed. An obvious nonsense but one Andrew Leigh in particular keeps repeating

    report
  5. Mick Matheson

    Journalist

    The anti-gun lobby is at least as guilty of fudging the figures as the pro-gun side. Gun deaths in Australia had been dropping for about 10 years before the 1996 gun laws came in, but Philp Alpers, for example, chooses to show only data from 1995 onward in his claims about the effect of those laws.

    The anti-gun lobby points out that we have not had a gun massacre since 1996, and credits our gun laws for this. However, New Zealand does not have our gun laws, and it has not had a gun massacre since…

    Read more
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Mick Matheson

      As I’ve noted in the article, the effectiveness of the Australian gun laws is debated, and gun deaths can decrease for reasons other than gun laws (as has happened in the US). A discussion of the effectiveness of the Australian laws would be a very interesting article for The Conversation.

      While there have not been gun massacres in New Zealand for over a decade, it would be shocking if such massacres had occurred as New Zealand has a population that is 20% that of Australia.

      report
    2. Mick Matheson

      Journalist

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Yes, you did note it, Michael. My 'gun-bashing' comment comes from frustration that almost every article on gun control is critical of the pro-gun lobby. Please take he comment in that light.

      NZ did have a number of gun massacres up to 1997. Their history of mass shootings runs roughly parallel with Australia's.

      report
    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      There are actually a couple of trends worth noting in the wake of the Howard" gun laws ....

      First up the abrupt termination of the random massacre as a repeating theme in Australia - as it was becoming.

      Second the decline in the murder suicide domestic annihilation of the family. (I'm not sure about this one and the direct causality - and there are probably other factors involved but from memory the weapon of choice in such events was the old shotgun or rifle in the shed rather than then well maintained Glock.)

      And lastly - male suicides - which make up some 80% of the deaths by firearms in Australia. We are still killing ourselves - especially out here in the bush - but we are not using hunting rifles or military weapons as we once were. And we are not taking others with us. I guess that's an improvement.

      report
    4. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Excellent article, however not surprising given the FRWN's abilities at spin and cherry picking.

      Mr O

      "Second the decline in the murder suicide domestic annihilation of the family. (I'm not sure about this one and the direct causality - and there are probably other factors involved but from memory the weapon of choice in such events was the old shotgun or rifle in the shed rather than then well maintained Glock.) "

      Hence the expression "Saturday night special" a chilling part of America's armaments' history...

      report
    5. Thomas Ward

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      But Michael, you didn't compare the overall homicide rate before and after. You mentioned what the rate is now, but no mention of what it was before. According to the numbers i gathered from AIC, the overall rate was 1.9 per 100,000 before and 1.3 now. That only a drop of .6 per 100,000. That's only a change of less than .001%. It's statistically insignificant. Which means instead of using guns, people are using different weapons now. Sure, it may prevent future mass shootings, but it hasn't changed the overall homicide death rate.

      report
    6. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Thomas Ward

      Thomas Ward does not understand maths nor statistics.

      The drop in murder rate from 1.9 per 100,000 to 1.2 per 100,000 corresponds to a ~37% drop in murder rate, not a <0.001% as Thomas Ward claims. (If murders had completed ceased in Australia, dropping from 1.9 per 100,000 to 0, that would be a 100% drop in murder rate, not a 0.0019% drop in murder rate.)

      The trend-line fitted by the AIC to the data shows a statistically significant drop in the Australian murder rate (e.g., http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html). There are many introductions to statistical significance available online.

      If criminals are attempting murder as often as before, but have switched weapons from guns, the drop in homicide rate indicates criminals are less successful in their murderous intent than they were in the 1990s.

      report
  6. Rick Estes

    logged in via Facebook

    It amazes me how you get so defensive when outsiders comment on the polices of your country. Yet you are very willing to criticize and distort the policies of my country. A crusty old cowboy once told me 'There are lies, there are damn lies and then there are statistics.' You do not and probably cannot understand the cultural reasons why so many Americans are devoted to their firearms, many Americans have been insulated from this culture and have lost their understanding too. A tragedy occurs and people feel guilt and outrage and want to fix it, so they do and say stupid things. This issue is none of your business. Leave us alone, or don't be so, as my kids call it. 'butt hurt' when someone looks at you with criticism.
    Rick from the real wild west, Arizona.

    report
    1. Shayne Joseph

      ex scientist

      In reply to Rick Estes

      Maybe we as Australians, and the author in particular, cannot understand the American gun culture, as you say.

      However, when your biggest gun lobby decides to use the Australian experience as fodder for their anti-gun control campaign, the issue DOES become, at least partly, "our business". To suggest that we "leave you alone" is laughable.

      report
    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Rick Estes

      I actually lived in Tucson (Arizona) for 4 years and the article does not say make any suggestions about the choices Americans should make regarding guns.

      If Americans wish to make choices about gun laws based on the Australian experience, I hope they use the relevant information correctly rather than misunderstanding the statistics or relying on invented statistics. I am offended when people lie about my nation (perhaps Rick is offended when people lie about the USA too).

      Given the USA was…

      Read more
    3. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rick Estes

      "It amazes me how you get so defensive when outsiders comment on the polices of your country."

      But these particular outsiders are not "commenting on policy", they are telling outrageous lies about the results of policy. I am sure that the distinction is not lost on you.

      You have taken the opportunity to inform us that we are guilty of distortion, yet seem to imply that we should keep quiet when we are also the victims of such distortions. Do you believe that is the case?

      Maybe you shouldn't be so "butt hurt" when someone looks at you with criticism. You should also recognise that it is perfectly legitimate for people to examine and ask questions about other nations. Indeed, why should we not look upon the "shining city on a hill?"

      report
    4. David Hamer

      student

      In reply to Rick Estes

      Hi Rick,

      It seems that you and the author are in agreement; there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

      The author is objecting to Australian statistics being used to propagate the lies of the NRA.

      I concede that as an Australian I can’t comprehend American gun culture and connection to assault style weapons. However in light of the higher rates of gun crime in the US you may have to concede that this culture is harmful.

      I appreciate and use firearms on a regular basis. From my perspective responsible use, storage and training with these weapons is critical. This ensures that weapons have a legitimate place in society to be enjoyed and respected by those who can be trusted with them.

      report
    5. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Rick Estes

      With respect, there appears to be a simple explanation that justifies the attitude that one needs a gun ( Unlimited?) to protect oneself against the other. That includes the assumption that you can kill with out due process. On unpacking this idea, it assumes that any individual is self empowered to be the sacred authority and the rest are the 'others' over whom you may exercise unlimited power in certain situations as defined where you may feel threatened.

      I would suggest that this is an attitude…

      Read more
  7. Peter Whelan

    President at Liberal Democratic Party

    It's one thing to debunk interpretations some Americans make about Australia's gun bans, but surely it's about time some Australians questioned what other Australians claim. One glaring example is how gun suicides (which take only one bullet) dropped because milti-shot guns were banned! No credit is given to suicide preventions groups such as Beyond Blue. ISome would suggest that if such groups had been better funded back in 1996, the suicide rate, both gun and non-gun, would have dropped more…

    Read more
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Peter Whelan

      I think it is worthwhile to discuss the effectiveness of the gun laws, but that is not the primary purpose of my article.

      As noted in the article, there are many factors that influence gun violence, including suicide. The Australian gun laws didn’t just restrict multi-shot weapons, but also effected licensing and storage, which could have an impact on suicide rate.

      Three of the four mass murders mentioned by Peter Whelan were there result of arson. It is unlikely gun laws have a major impact on arson, which has occurred both before and after the gun laws were implemented (e.g., some of the Ash Wednesday bushfires).

      report
  8. Ron Chinchen
    Ron Chinchen is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired (ex Probation and Parole Officer)

    I'm not necessarily against people using guns. For some at selected shooting sites they are obviously good entertainment and require great skill. Certainly should Australia be ever invaded it would be in our interests to at least know how to handle a weapon, if we had to defend ourselves. I also think farmers have a need for such weapons in dealing with vermin, and then there are those who like to hunt feral boar on private property, where permission is granted. I'm not anti-gun.

    But I have to…

    Read more
    1. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Ron Chinchen

      Don't confuse the gun lobby spin in the USA for what passes muster here. Semi autos are under very, very strict control and in short supply in some cases. Some moan about it but we are lucky in that we haven't lost the ability to be somewhat rational and civil in our discourse. No thanks to the Greens ...

      We keep hearing suggestions (or demands from some) that guns not be kept at home. You only need to keep the bolt at a police station. Amassing a cache of firearms at a single location might be a bit tempting for crims. And noting you're former profession you know that a police station ... well, they have been robbed before.

      report
  9. Debbie Schmitt

    logged in via LinkedIn

    One thing that interests me about gun ownership in America (which I am proud to be from) and the territorial comments posted, is that if you own a gun - you demand that there be no ammendments to your Constitutional rights, but if you are unfortunate enough to be on the victim side of a gun attack, you want nothing but justice and changes to the laws. While thankfully I am neither a gun owner, or to date, have not been a victim, one thing is for sure...When the Constitution was written, the only…

    Read more
    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Debbie Schmitt

      Debbie, even Justice Scalia agrees with you (and me) that the right to "bear arms" are words that should be read "as they were understood at the time".

      So, yes, muskets, knives,,, even pikes, spears bows & arrows, maybe even crossbows, should be fine. No need for word updates, because the key prohibition just needs to be "no firing action may cause casing ejection or cartridge load"..

      We have always owned guns, by the way.

      report
    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Debbie Schmitt

      Debbie, i wonder if the NRA would agitate for the right of citizens to bear nuclear weaons?

      report
    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      They were working on that before the recent brouhaha. MIRVs are close to semi-automatics, but with smaller magazines.

      Give the 3 accidents yesterday, we'd have to make sure that any 'gun shows' for them would be far out in some big desert..
      ;]

      report
  10. Stephen Larsson

    Consultant

    Michael, two comments.

    Firstly, you are too quick to claim Joyce Lee Malcolm 'implied' gun control increased assaults and sexual assault, and you suggest she is being deceptive. I think this is wishful thinking on your part - Ms Malcolm merely stated facts from the AIC report. There was no hint or suggestion of any causal relationship in her article.

    Surprisingly, you have done exactly the same thing you accuse Ms Malcolm of doing. By saying "Prior to the implementation of the gun laws…

    Read more
    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephen Larsson

      Causality ... always tricky isn't it? So many things going on all at once... confounding variables all over the place... lots of dust to kick up, lots of smoke ...I'm wondering why one would seek to do so.

      Is it some urgent insistance on the facts ma'm - nothing but the facts ... as revealed unto us by the sacred numbers. Or is this about a few blokes wanting to have a better class of crowd killer released onto Australian streets?

      I'm starting to suspect the latter... some of the lads want to have a go at playing Call of Duty for real. That true? Or are you all just outraged statisticians quibbling about correlation vs causality?

      report
    2. Stephen Larsson

      Consultant

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      For a farmer you sure seem to have a lot of (too much) time on your hands. Suggest you spend some of that time checking the difference between 'correlation' and 'association', before opening fire.

      report
    3. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Stephen Larsson

      I have made it very clear in the article that the effectiveness of the Australian laws is debated (e.g., start of the 3rd paragraph). As Stephen Larsson points out, a number of studies have reached varying conclusions. I think a discussion of these studies could make an excellent Conversation article. However, for my article I wanted to focus on the misuse of Australian stats in the US debate.

      If Joyce Lee Malcolm is not implying that rises in reported assaults and sexual assaults are linked to gun laws, why are they included in her article on gun laws? Certainly that is how many people online are using those numbers from her article.

      report
    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephen Larsson

      Depends a bit on the time of year and the heat Stephen ... and the proximity of the last heart attack. So I spend my enforced idleness sitting inside out of the heat and not lifting anything other than my typing finger.

      Now excellent ...a statistical discussion... not about guns at all then.... I would be inferring from your pointer to association that you have done the sums and have discovered that there is indeed no statistically significant association between these gun laws and the declines and changes in weaponry highlighted here. Let's see 'em.

      Or you just saying they aren't associated? Out here we call that making it up.

      report
    5. Geoffrey Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "If Joyce Lee Malcolm is not implying that rises in reported assaults and sexual assaults are linked to gun laws, why are they included in her article on gun laws?"

      Indeed.

      The intent of the article is to derive lessons from the experience of Britain and Australia: "Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive."

      After discussing the measures put in place by the Howard Government, the author asks : "To what end?"

      After…

      Read more
    6. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I'd be questioning the strength of the association. I'm unsure the data is something that lends itself to any sort of meaningful testing of significance given the number of variables that maybe at play. As I believe Michael has pointed out, this is worthy of an essay in its own right. I'd also put to you that you can question the association between gun laws and firearm related deaths without necessarily questioning the utility of the laws. It would require a higher level of reasoning and a bit more of a rational debate that what we have, unfortunately, become accustomed to here of late. Seriously, that 'playing call of duty' comment is not something i would have expected from you. If the future of this issue is to be typified by such - implying somebody who doesn't share your point of view has some proclivity to mass murder - then where will we end up?

      report
  11. John Phillip
    John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grumpy Old Man

    Michael, I think you may be guilty of a bit of 'chery-picking' yourself on the basis of choosing the 1990's as your start point in your final paragraph:
    "The percentage of homicides committed with a firearm continued a declining trend which began in 1969. In 2003, fewer than 16% of homicides involved firearms. The figure was similar in 2002 and 2001, down from a high of 44% in 1968."
    (http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html)
    In all fairness, that same website concurs with your assessment - unfortunately by using the same starting year.
    It would be interesting to see a trend line extending from 1969...

    report
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to John Phillip

      As I noted in the article, there are many reasons for homicides to decline and the effectiveness of gun laws is debated.

      I definitely wanted to keep the focus of the article on the misuse of stats rather than the effectiveness of the Australian laws, which deserves its own essay. (There is a fair amount of peer reviewed literature on the topic reaching a range of conclusions.)

      As John noted in his comment, I have provided links to various resources so people can cross check facts. I wish this would happen more often in online media, as it may mitigate invented stats.

      I'm very cautious about extrapolation when it comes to complex systems (not to be confused with simple fits to data). Given the various inputs, it would be remarkable if the real world was that simple.

      report
  12. Paul Arnold

    Consultant

    The tricks used by the NRA are the same tricks used by the climate change sceptics. The problem is a lazy media does not fact check and reasonable opponents do not fight back hard enough. This article should be on the front page of every major US and Australian paper and on every new bulletin. The Obama administration should be quoting fact. But we seem to be afraid to take lies on.

    Why?

    report
  13. Tony Simons

    Director at Bedlam Bay Pty Ltd

    Great stuff. Exactly the same tactics used by Big Tobacco and the climate change deniers. Alan Jones with his .0001% increase in CO2 emissions. The evidence of warming, extreme weather events and SE Australia ablaze stares these liars in the face and they still deny.

    report
    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      The clear comonality up here is simply $.

      The NRA after LAPierre's coup in the late '70s, became a lobbying tool of our gun makers. The NRA now gets >1/2 it budget from gun makers amand delivers good prfits by opposing anything that would limit sales of the most profitable pieces: semi-automatics.

      So, while we were trying to have an ATF that functioned, the NRA lobbied to even prevent a head of tATF to be appointed. They even lobbied to prevent ATF from requiring inventories of guns be kept…

      Read more
    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Yes Alex I read a potted history of the "transformation" of the NRA into an extremist front overnight... quite a coup.... far too smart for the blokes out front to have organised.

      We had a big government inquiry here a few years back into the security services and the bloke - Justice Hope - running the show had a lot of trouble pinning down a definition of "subversion" - as did those charged with protecting us from it. He should have had a look at this.

      This "blurring" of the lines between policy, politics and naked-self interest would have given Adam Smith - and your founding fathers - nightmares.

      report
    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I actually yearn for our Justice Dept. to file RICO charges against to whole lot, just as they used to for the Mafia.

      But my real dream, which I did fax to Obama after the Aurora massacre, is that he simply declare a national state of domestic emergency and send the whole bunch to Gitmo to cool their heels while DHS and the FBI take their time formulating charges of aiding & abetting domestic & international terrorism.

      The gun 'shows' are places frequented by foreign agents because they can buy here easier than abroad! I think LaPierre would look spiffy in an orange jump suit.
      ']

      report
    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Jeez ... I thought I was hard-line... I reckon that would be a recipe for a quick re-run of the Civil War myself Alex ... Civil War II ... Maybe better sooner than when they've got RPG's under their beds.

      Still gotta find something to do with Gitmo I guess ...

      One must just ask who are the enemies of freedom? ... and I reckon we're seeing them creeping out into the sunlight right now waving their little 2nd amendment right to rebel against their elected government whenever they feel "oppressed".

      Too much tax? Too much debt? Obamacare? Postal charges? Too much red tape? What does this "oppression" look like? Isn't your government democratically elected? Whose votes don't fit with your American dream? Oh them. Still.

      I keep wondering what any of that rhetoric actually means in practice. The more you think about it the worse it looks.

      report
    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      We see another mass family killing today in NM, via a teen boy with a semi-auto rifle.

      If we had a real ATF and real registration & background checking at all gun sales, then semi-autos might not be the problem they are, but they still would be a problem, which is why RPGs, nerve gas, shoulder-fired nukes (we actually had them), etc. are as illegal. as cars without airbags or licenses & registrations.

      Again, we just need to follow the $ and plug the pipes it flows through.

      report
    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Why are the streets of the the brave and the free not running with the blood of policemen, postmen and other representatives of the State, Alex over this obvious impingement on the right to bear arms?

      I've had it with these namby pambies and their nanny state reliance on mere assault weapons. Where is the NRA when it comes to serious state of the art self-defence. Land-mines in the drive. And in the playground - just past the razor wire deadline. Stingers on the library roof. And out in…

      Read more
    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      ;] Peter!

      Montana is, believe it or not, Hollywood's and Silicon Valley's retreat from busy schedules earning $ to struggle with house & BMW/Mercedes payments, nanny & day-care arrangements VC/producer meets, and all the other intrusions of 'successful' lives.

      It's a whole other world from the gun stuff, like this...
      www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57565000-504083/5-injured-in-firearm-accidents-at-saturday-gun-shows/

      I especially like the one guy who showed up at the show's safety checkpoint with a loaded double-barrelled shotgun, which went off during the check and injured 3 other nutcases.

      My gun-control edicts wouldn't even have covered that!

      .

      report
    8. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Heh, I guess they have it :)

      I can guarantee you that, somewhere in the bush, there is this guy waiting, prepared to take on anything 'intruding' on his property, be it a goose or a man.

      And you forget all those secluded areas guarded by private security firms. If that's not segregation at its finest, I don't know what segregation is?

      I still like so much about America, but maybe it's the ideals that seduces me, not the daily reality.

      report
    9. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Tony Simons

      An interesting example of links between the NRA, Tobacco and climate denial is in today's Fairfax newspapers....

      TONY Abbott's former hand-picked parliamentary secretary Cory Bernardi has breached strict federal rules by failing to declare his ties to a right-wing, pro-tobacco group fighting gun controls.

      Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/bernardi-breaches-rules-over-us-ties-20130126-2de2n.html#ixzz2J7E3hv8A

      report
  14. Jorge Alejandro Alvear

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Interesting that the cherry picking is very common with Australian Gun Control bodies and the Australian media who are feverly antigunners who quotes such figures as the dramatic decline in firearm suicides after the 1996 buyback. Why don't they quote the 10 years prior to 1996 to show that firearm suicide was on a constant decline prior to any buyback. The buyback did not impact on gun related crimes as much as the anti gun mobs rave on about. How many criminals with unregistered and illegally obtained firearms handed their firearms in, it was only the law abiding firearm owners that complied with that and the account for less than 1% of crimes committed with firearms.

    All sides use the stats to prove a point and the antigunners (which includes the media) are notorious for misquoting stats.

    report
    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Jorge Alejandro Alvear

      More dust Jorge -

      These laws were not aimed at reducing gun-crime. They were aimed at removing a particular type of weapon. And these have indeed disappeared.

      They were also not aimed at stopping suicide - nor have they. But they have changed how we do it. And who else gets to go along for the ride.

      Here's some stats - from a profoundly objective source - Women in Shootin' and Huntin' (WISH) ... no declines since 1969 there Jorge ... more of a case for 1990 on... but nothing suggested…

      Read more
  15. Mike Smith

    logged in via Facebook

    The irony is that Australian are doing/did the same thing to America - using it as a case for why gun control was needed in Australia , based upon inaccurate statistics.

    report
  16. Ron Chinchen
    Ron Chinchen is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired (ex Probation and Parole Officer)

    Seems to me that this argument is about interpreting statistics and not whether gun control helps reduce violent offences involving guns. Like I earlier said I dont see any reason for an urban citizen having a gun in their home. I can see it may be needed in various security areas and on large farming properties. But why in the family home? Surely that's just inviting potential trouble. I certainly dont want to go out on the street knowing several people out there are carrying firearms.

    But getting to the crux of the issue, we may as well go the way of America, maybe even further and have everyone own guns in their home, because if there is no correlation between gun ownership percentages and gun related crime, then we've nothing to worry about have we.

    Yehh Right.

    report
    1. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Ron Chinchen

      " I dont see any reason for an urban citizen having a gun in their home"

      If it's about saving lives, I don't see why they should have A/C's either ? The W.H.O estimated 1,000,000 deaths worldwide from Coal particulate pollution. Up the stack and into the lungs boyo... Cut all the trees down, put up four walls and a roof and install an A/C, it's the Australian way ! Luckily for all those with A/C's I don't make the laws :)

      There are more guns now then there were before the buyback. With all the brouh-ha-ha I decided it was time to see for myself rather then be a "back seat driver" so I have joined the SSAA, gun license application is on the way, firearms safety course next. Then rifle purchase. We'll see how it goes.

      report
  17. Jane Louise Hunter

    Specialist in technology and curriculum in teacher education at University of Western Sydney

    Michael - thank you for this very helpful article. This morning another shooting in the US http://www.smh.com.au/world/teen-arrested-after-five-shot-dead-in-us-20130121-2d1ns.html
    I have children in their 20s who are hugely concerned about this issue - one of whom has made her home in the US for now ... in the firm where she works one of the women - her grand-daughter was killed in Sandy Hook - brings the point home. The question she asked at the time was "Why is it young white men?" What are those stats in mass shootings?

    report
    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Jane Louise Hunter

      One of the most striking contrasts between these random massacres and your run-of-the-mill US gun crime is who does it... angry isolated variously demented white kids with "issues" and access to serious firepower at home. The background stuff is far more ethnically and economically diverse... pros, DV, guns used in crimes etc.

      This is perhaps one of the less discussed and more disturbing aspects of this deranged lone gunman business (gun-kid really) ... that it is the children of these "preppies…

      Read more
    2. David Clerke

      Teacher

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You raise an issue I have been criticised for when looking through the other end of the telescope. As even Andrew Leigh has pointed out although mass shootings are a horrendous event they account for very little of total casualties. Half of US shootings are suicides and the rest is not an equal opportunity event with hispanics and afro americans having much higher rates as both victims and perpetrators than caucasians. When these are removed murder rates drop towards those of Canada. Also one of the reason murder rates in the US have declined is crack cocaine loosing its fashion as eighty five per cent of murders involve a convicted felon, ie much of it is crims killing crims.

      report
    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Clerke

      David,

      I have come across this intriguing suggest before on the Conversation - this notion of finding the real murder rate by exckusing the "Blacks and Hispanics"... Why not the Asians??? They demand the right not to count as well.

      This notion implicit in this line of argument is extremely significant folks: that US guns policy is and should be determined by the interests of "whites". That "Blacks" and "Hispanics" are crims and murders and will kill each other with whatever is available so we won't count them.

      What other reason do you have for not counting them to get the place looking more like Canada - where of course they don't have these niggers and spics running around so much.

      Agai9n what are you actually trying to say?

      report
    4. David Clerke

      Teacher

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I thought that would be obvious, leaving aside the fact it is ok to say mass shootings are predominantly done by whites (is that racist?) it shows that a white in the US is not in horrendous danger of violent death unless he is engaged in crime. Culture seems far more of an issue in a firearms related death than the availability of guns.

      report
    5. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Clerke

      " ... it shows that a white in the US is not in horrendous danger of violent death unless he is engaged in crime..."

      So that's OK then isn't it? Phew ...what a relief. It's just those OTHERS making the numbers look bad isn't it? Let's just not count them. Let's make it about how the white folks is doing. Don't know why they count them at all really ... all we knows is there's too darn many of 'em.

      I wonder how they work out who's Black enough to be "Black" or pale enough to actually get counted. Eye colour probably - or the comb test like they used in South Africa.

      Now you've been splitting hairs about stats and the like for the last few days so I'm assuming you have an inkling about the consequences and implications of what you are suggesting.. .of simply excluding "non-white" deaths from the actual level of violence and murder.... don't count them. Why not?

      My goodness me - this fella doesn't realise what he is saying.

      report
    6. David Clerke

      Teacher

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Why not exclude white mass shootings from the stats too? It is a basic law of human nature that we are less concerned when people bring on their own misfortune rather than that of innocents. The central issue is that when a more sophisticated analysis is done of US shootings a different picture appears, it is not an issue of race, for years the different life chances of Afro Americans v more recent black immigrants, and their offspring, from for example the West Indies, has been well established. For example in the case of the latter they can become President.

      report
    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Clerke

      David, there is an argument for separating out mass murders of the sort we saw in Connecticut...they are a very specific sort of crime with a very definite atypical profile of the perpetrator. But that doesn't mean they are not counted as deaths.

      As you put it yourself David, "we are less concerned when people bring on their own misfortune than that of innocents..."

      So Blacks bring it on themselves I guess... they're like that. If god had meant them to count they wouldn't be Black would they?

      Gee this stuff runs deep doesn't it - the assumptions and implications built into this whole business of guns and crime... what these folks are "protecting themselves" from.

      Last time I looked Obama's dad was a Kenyan and he was born in Hawaii. Otherwise he couldn't be President. You've gotta be a native born yank ... and even Hawaii counts - but only just.

      report
    8. David Clerke

      Teacher

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "Last time I looked Obama's dad was a Kenyan and he was born in Hawaii. Otherwise he couldn't be President. You've gotta be a native born yank "
      f"or years the different life chances of Afro Americans v more recent black immigrants, and their offspring, from for example the West Indies, has been well established. For example in the case of the latter they can become President. "

      Once again thank you for making my point for me. Should I put you on retainer? When the police bust a drug dealer who has a small arsenal it is usually for protection against other crims rather than the police. When someone grabs your stash or doesn't pay, you cannot take it up in the Small Claims Court.

      report
    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to David Clerke

      Yes the Wire was an excellent show wasn't it? Or is your expertise in protecting drug stashes from competitors and police more direct than the telly? Mine I'm afraid is limited to reading and statistics. And the Wire - but I'm sure you're right.

      But don't confuse the decaying ghettos of Baltimore with the US as a whole. Such gang crime is quite geographically precise as a rule. And one can isolate the numbers by zip code without recourse to race actually. Wouldn't be the same though would…

      Read more
    10. Stephen Larsson

      Consultant

      In reply to Jane Louise Hunter

      Jane, a good starting point to begin to understand the antecedents of violence with a gun is provided in the 2007 editorial by Gwen Adshead in BMJ - http://www.bmj.com/content/335/7625/837.full.

      Adshead writes...

      "Reducing access to guns should reduce both these forms of violence; however, a US study showed that legislation relating to handgun sales had little effect on homicide and suicide rates, except for suicides in people over 55.... One possible inference might be that guns themselves are not risky, but the intention to use them is."

      "Improving the welfare of young people at risk of acting violently might be more fruitful."

      "Overall, reducing social exclusion and deprivation and increasing the protection of children may be more effective than focusing on gun control alone. Certain initiatives can improve young people’s mental health, which in turn will improve their capacity to mentalise and reach out to others when they are in distress."

      report
  18. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "When gun advocates use Australian crime stats, they sometimes employ a number of misleading tricks and sleights of hand". Well, who'da thunk? I learned many years ago that statistics are like a bikini: what they show is revealing, but what they hide is vital.

    report
    1. David Clerke

      Teacher

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Have you actually read this source? If you had I do not think you would cite it, It has more holes than a collander for example a reference to Israel which has only vague subjective assertions without any figures. For example only soldiers above a certain rank can get a certain type of licence but does not tell us what that rank is and how many are issued. Nor does it say what effect storing of issue weapons at depots had other than an alleged reduction in suicides (no figures again). My understanding was that home storage was discouraged because too many of them were being sold to the Palestinians but this time I do not have the figures.

      report
    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to David Clerke

      I have read it and it provides some very basic information that is relevant to the debate. It is obviously a very brief overview, and one should go to primary references for more detail.

      report
    3. David Clerke

      Teacher

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      I did do and that is where the problem lies. (no pun intended). One source talks about the Swiss no longer being heavily armed in the home because on a Canton by Canton basis the army reservists leave their arms at the depot but gives no statistics. Is that one per cent or 99 per cent of Cantons? I wonder in which type the recent mass shooting occurred. Nor does the primary source address the issue of why such low rates of gun related deaths when whatever new restrictions were not in place. That is just plain sloppy a poor kind of pea and thimble trick.

      report
  19. Brent Daire

    Public Servant

    Personal opinion is that both 'sides' of the debate are guilty in this respect. It's not just the impact of Australian gun laws that are subject to academic review, but gun laws everywhere. California has some of the toughest gun laws in the US, yet has one of the highest murder rates (with hand guns being the main culprit). Also, with extremely high murder rates are some of the Bouroughs of London, such as Lambeth, which is not that far off of California, yet has a strict no guns law in place. Also…

    Read more
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Brent Daire

      I think one should point out when any side of a debate misuses stats or (worse) invents numbers to make their case.

      With regards to local/state laws, they are obviously easy to circumvent relative to national laws. That said, there are claims that there are correlations between local/state laws and gun deaths (for example http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/).

      One should be cautious about comparing national stats with very small regions (e.g., London boroughs). This can suffer from the issues outlined in my article.

      There clearly are myriad of factors that impact gun violence. Easy access to guns clearly could be a significant factor, which would certainly be consistent with the large discrepancy between the homicide rate in the US and comparably wealthy nations.

      report
    2. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Brent Daire

      Well, people move around in the States, don't they? So you may have gotten your gun somewhere else? It's not like Europe where there is nowhere, that I know of, where you just can walk into a shop, providing a ordinary legitimation, buying your favorite killing machine.

      And it's also so that, just like with chips, if it's freely available and a integrated part of the culture, then there will be outlets for it, local laws be damned :)

      Gun culture.

      report
    3. Brent Daire

      Public Servant

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Yoron,

      It is actually illegal in the US to bring weapons from one state to the other without a permit. It's a very contentious issue of the pro-gun lobby that you can buy a gun legally in one state, cross the border to the another state and be classed a criminal with an illegal and unregistered firearm. So the contention that you've made is not entirely accurate.

      report
    4. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Brent Daire

      Sure, it is illegal, but also a big part of the culture. Don't have any figures on it, and i guess all such figures more or less would be guess work, as no normal citizen would step forward to tell that he has a illegal gun in a drawer. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have it. 'just in case.

      It's about availability, and the American way of life.

      report
  20. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) provides an example of a think tank combining many of the deceptions and lies discussed above (http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=17847)

    The NCPA states, “In fact, the percent of murders committed with a firearm was the highest it had ever been in 2006 (16.3 percent), says the D.C. Examiner.” This is manifestly false, as can be seen at http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html.

    NCPA also uses some of the same tactics as Joyce Lee Malcolm, using Australian stats for crimes that rarely involve guns. It also never discusses the vast difference between Australian and American homicides per capita.

    report
  21. Ian Bolton

    Farmer

    I shoot, I vote, I vote for strong gun control. The gun lobby do not represent the majority of gun owners. Farmers need guns for predators, feral animals and to humanely put down injured livestock. We do not need pistols, assault rifles or automatic weapons. Bolt action rifles are the tools of choice due to thier accuracy and reliability. Automatic weapons are the tools of fools. The American gun lobby sound more like the Taliban every day.

    report
  22. Michael Shafran

    logged in via Facebook

    Hi Michael. I'm a solid proponent for gun regulation, but I did notice that some of your assertions didn't seem to address the stats I've seen from the pro-gun crowd. I've most frequently seen stats that show that "violent crime" in Australia is much higher than that of the US. I was looking for a reliable statistics site to see if this was true, but I couldn't find a good source - maybe you can recommend one? I did see that the definition of "violent crime" does incorporate petty theft, which definitely…

    Read more
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Michael Shafran

      If you use homicides (including homicides that do not use guns) then Australia is less violent that the United States.

      Comparing other crimes becomes more difficult because of different definitions used and reporting rates. For example, the FBI reports aggravated assault (~300 per 100,000) while the AIC reports assault (~800 per 100,000). Under-reporting can also be an issue when dealing with many crimes (e.g., how many punches result in assault charges?). This is one of those topics worthy of its own essay by a relevant expert.

      The relevant stats are online:

      http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/data/table_01.html

      http://data.aic.gov.au/aic16/#view=victimsEstimatesPerHTDateLineView&selectedWafers=0&selectedColumns=

      report
    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      High population density combined with social inequity also tends to increases social disahrmony.

      Australia's current high immigration intake is slowly and steadily increasing both. Inequity in that big business is exploiting many immigrants as cheap labor and displacing local workers who are more expensive. Also the skilled immigrants that were brought in to sustain the mining boom are now being laid off as the mining boom subsides. They flood the Centrelink which prompts the federal government to cut back on Centreling payments which in turn effects local recipients. All this increases resentment of immigrants and immigration.

      When you have social disharmony it tends to increase various forms of crime, e.g. racially motivated assaults.

      report
  23. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      As noted in my article, the effectiveness of gun laws in America is somewhat undermined by the things such as grandfather clauses (as was the case with the assault weapons ban). Gun laws that only apply to particular states and cities can obviously be undermined easily.

      Cultural differences between countries probably do matter, but people in different western countries are often watching the similar movies and playing the similar computer games.

      report
    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      As another American, Nickolas, whose family has owned guns forever (one ancestor being a Colonel in the Revolutionary Army, and another having signed our Declaration of Independence) your statements are incorrect and naively contribute to the deaths and injuries we've seen & allowed far too long here.

      "We as parents are the solution and the guns allow us to protect our kids and have a fighting chance." -- guns in homes are more often used in crimes against occupants and other family members than…

      Read more
  24. Freddy Hills

    logged in via email @hushmail.com

    The American "gun lobby" did not bring Australia into the discussion. The anti-gun lobby did. I'm not sure how valid Brown's criticisms are because I haven't had a chance to verify them yet. But I have had a chance to verify some of the anti-gun lobby's claims repeated here and they are fundamentally misleading.

    The first anti-gun deception was to claim gun homicide rates are lower since Australia's 1996 gun restrictions. Rates may be lower but, as others have mentioned, the Australian gun homicide…

    Read more
    1. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Freddy, handguns might help a women protect herself, or have the gun turned on her. That is the problem with this type of thing. Its a judgement call. Mind you, if its women that can arm themselves and not men ... Agree with the sentiment on mass shootings. I think its risky to make decisions - pro or anti gun - based on false or misleading information. Such as with some of the attempts to link legal gun ownership to gun crime of late. Not to mention the rather unsavory characterisation of…

      Read more
    2. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Not at all correct. I have received from a number of US sources a great deal of very distorted information re violence and gun issues in Australia. No wonder some people here jumped on you.

      With respect to the right to carry weapons, just how many who demand that have not distinguished that implicit in that right is the right to kill without due process.

      That makes total sense if the right to carry arms included duties in putting down opposition to the status quo in early USA, ie slave revolts. It makes me wonder about suppressed desire to be Slave owners. Got to be some fundamental deep need to be met. Fairly rough on any bystanders though.

      Also as you question, there has been no large scale event since the gun buy back here.

      report
    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      Women, especially wives, prefer knives anyway. Less to clean up and they have better access to a wider selection.
      ;]

      report
    4. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Regarding the issue of deterrence, it is important to note that gun owenership rates in Australia have been low relative to America for a very long time. Roughly 1 in 15 Australian adults owned a gun prior to the implementation of the gun law reforms. This has dropped to roughly 1 in 20 since the reforms were implemented.

      Trying to understand why sexual assault statistics change with time is very difficult. Under-reporting is a significant problem and varies from community-to-community, varies from nation-to-nation and changes with societal attitudes. For a grim introduction see http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/24.%20Sexual%20Assault%20and%20Family%20Violence/prevalence-sexual-violence

      The drop in homicide rates in both the United States and Australia is noted in my article.

      report
    5. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      <i>"Regarding the issue of deterrence, it is important to note that gun owenership rates in Australia have been low relative to America for a very long time."</i>

      Yes, AUS gun ownership rates have always been lower than USA. That was true even when firearms were easily obtained in both countries. That only further demonstrates the anti gun lobby's deception in comparing the lower AUS gun homicide rate to the USA.

      <i>"Trying to understand why sexual assault statistics change with time is very…

      Read more
    6. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      Foley says: "Reducing the rate of gun ownership lowers the risk of a perpetrator being shot by his victim. -- really John?

      What inane stats have you been reading, John? The presence of a gun in a household is on record as a cause of a net incr4ease of gun deaths to those in the households. Almost no external "perpetrators" are repelled.

      Have you called the Gov. f Conn. yet to ask waht he saw in the open casket of a little boy a couple of weekends ago John? No guts, eh?

      Then there's…

      Read more
    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Sorry, I got confused -- please read "Freddy" for "John" in mine post above. Apologies to any Johns!

      report
    8. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      No worries ... I've heard of a number of studies that conclude you are better off running from an armed 'perp'. I can't quote them, but ask any shooter how hard it is to hit a moving target (as opposed to one reaching for a gun) and it seems to make a lot of sense. There are those that think otherwise, but the sentiment is not that common here. I know one such person, I respect his opinion, he is a good and rational person, but we disagree nonetheless. We don't, however, resort to emotional barbs about little boys murders. We are not at that point here - not even close - and we need to be mindful of the importance of remaining rational, calm and respectful in this area. We can see the alternative, and it aint pretty!

      report
    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      And, we need the maturity to realize

      "We don't, however, resort to emotional barbs about little boys murders. "

      is a cop out.

      >1300 Americans have been killed by guns since Sandy Hook. A girl who performed at the Inauguration last week was killed.

      What can be more "rational" than admitting we need do something big, and do it quickly?

      report
    10. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Freddy Hill's wrote:

      "Yes, AUS gun ownership rates have always been lower than USA. That was true even when firearms were easily obtained in both countries. That only further demonstrates the anti gun lobby's deception in comparing the lower AUS gun homicide rate to the USA."

      I don't think any deception is involved. Homicide rates in Australia were lower than those in the US both before and after gun reforms were introduced. This would be consistent with homicide rates being correlated with…

      Read more
    11. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "1300 Americans have been killed by guns since Sandy Hook. A girl who performed at the Inauguration last week was killed". Alex, how can these deaths be taken as "just unfortunate collateral damage" by the pro-gun lobby? Do they want a 100% armed civilian population taking pot-shots at each other? Do they believe in the concept of the pre-emptive strike, giving Joe Average the right to kill if he thinks he is going to be attacked? That way, lunacy lies.

      The right to bear arms must assume a matching level of responsibility in those who take advantage of it, but it seems the right is abused by too many who are not as responsible as the constitution assumed they would be. What a crazy world!

      report
    12. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "Homicide rates in Australia were lower than those in the US both before and after gun reforms were introduced. This would be consistent with homicide rates being correlated with rates of gun ownership"

      Does correlation prove causation??? IF Australia's homicide rate was much lower than America's even when firearms were freely available in both countries AND the 1996 laws didn't change the slope of the downtrend line for Australia's homicide rate THEN access to firearms is an unlikely cause for…

      Read more
    13. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      "Does correlation prove causation"

      If the US gun lobby must be desperately and rather stupidly clutching at straws if they are going to try and push this argument.

      If gun ownership is higher in the US than it is in Australia and the number of killings WITH guns is also higher then I think any person with hal a brain could resonably include the correlation between gun ownership and masacres is a causal relationship.

      IF the gun ownership falls dramatically in the US AND the number of knife or strangulation massacres increases as gun massacres decrease THEN the gun lobby might have a valid point.

      But some how I doubt that we will see this.

      Killing some one with a knife is a lot more messy and personal and considerably less efficient than firing a gun at them from a distance.

      report
    14. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      attention Freddy.

      The rural supply shops here did a very large business here in the late 90's of supplying lockable, heavy duty gun cabinets that were designed to be bolted down to a suitable substrate so that they could not be removed with out some effort. It was a good little earner until the market was saturated.

      I would suggest your point of access to guns is may be different if the access is effectively by opening the gun storage unit first. Finding the keys and opening the unit first…

      Read more
    15. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      It is unclear how effective guns are as a deterrent, even in the United States. For an example, see “Gun Self-Defence and Deterrence” by Jens Ludwig, which is freely available online. This being the case, it seems tenuous to assume increases in crimes that rarely involve guns are the result of gun laws.

      Gun laws in Australia have generally been more restrictive than those in the US, both before and after Port Arthur. It should be noted that some Australian states introduced laws prior to Port Arthur, in response to earlier tragedies such as Hoddle St and Queen St.

      The impact of the Australian gun laws is still debated (as noted in my article), as there are many factors that impact gun violence. Drawing straight lines through the data is risky, as violence is rarely that simple. For example, homicides in the US show many bumps and wiggles over the past few decades, and an extrapolation of the 1990-2000 trend would grossly underestimate the current homicide rate.

      report
    16. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "This being the case, it seems tenuous to assume increases in crimes that rarely involve guns are the result of gun laws."

      This being the case, it seems tenuous to assume increases in Tatts lotto ticket sales that rarely involve winners are the result of legalized gambling.

      It doesn't matter whether most people win. The possibility of winning encourages lottery ticket sales. Similarly, it doesn't matter whether most assaults and sexual assaults are prevented with handguns, The possibility that…

      Read more
    17. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Freddy, your willingness to display ignorance is remarkable -- a gift to those you attempt argument with.

      The Brits enacted gun laws that have indeed taken such significant effect that they've had 1 mass shooting in the time we in US have racked up >100.

      This is particularly good: "The possibility that a perpetrator could be shot will discourage them." -- the facts are the opposite. Guns in possession of people in their homes are more likely to be used against them than successfully against…

      Read more
    18. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Actually, the bullet holes provide a bit more than correlation.
      ;]
      The gun folks are more concerned with correlating gun sales to their bank balances. One reason the NRA is so rabid at the moment is they're worried the other US gun groups which support gun laws will take away NRA members (the majority support gun laws) and thus neuter the NRA's appeal to gun makers and dealers as a source of market share.

      Just as Microsoft's real product is bytes, gun makers must keep their factories busy…

      Read more
    19. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      It's all about $, Doug. And, the NRA is waning. Since Tom Selleck is on their board and has yet to speak or leave, as others like G. Bush Sr. has, perhaps Aussies who like Tom's work could write & ask him? We are.
      ;]

      report
    20. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Freddy Hills has taken a statement I have made out of context. The previous sentence is critical, that research does not show the deterrent effect of guns is larger easier access to guns facilitating crime.

      Freddy Hills then uses cherry picking, picking apart US crime statistics by race and finding an example of one country with a comparable murder rate. This ignores factors like poverty that do correlate with murder rate. It also ignores the fact that most western countries have lower murder rates than the US, even if you just compare murder rates for white people only.

      report
    21. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Yes, we a re a sad place in how we value the 1st of our declared rights -- life.

      By the way, the majority of what we call "private" gun sales, lacking background checks, occur in or near gun 'shows' (love the need for woosey euphemisms in the gun-nut crowd) and end up in criminal hands, including international terrorist hands.

      So we indeed are the world's source of choice for much more than just F-16s & land mines (oops, not supposed to say that).
      ;]

      report
    22. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      "possibility that a perpetrator could be shot will discourage them"

      Sounds like complete trigger happy bullshit to me Freddy.

      An over supply of testosterone, combined with miltary grade weapons in their hands, obviously nullifies any fears the perpetrator would otherwise feel!

      report
    23. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Cop out? Consider this. Relatively few of the firearms related deaths in the US are of children. I wonder how many are the result of suicides, gang related crime, etc? Don't mistake me, I cannot understand the need to own anything resembling an assault rifle, and the banning of these guns seems quite reasonable to me, as an Australian. That said every day people needlessly die from gun related crime or self harm (amongst other things) in the USA. All tragedies in their own rights, all bound…

      Read more
    24. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to John Foley

      And the more guns that there are available the easier it is for those killers in your midst to kill large numbers of victims before topping themselves.

      If they were wielding knives instead of guns it would be far easier for victims to run away and US style massacres where tens of people are killed on one maniac simply wouldn't be possible.

      report
    25. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Greg, its not simple. The guns will not evaporate overnight, and there are plenty of them. There are still plenty of crazies out there. This is not an issue that deserves glib statements.

      report
    26. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to John Foley

      The Australian government had two gun amnesties where 10s of thousands of fireamrs were taken out of circulation and destroyed.

      The US government has many similar options available to it.

      1) Abolish the current licence system and create a new one that requires psychological and crminal checks. Gun owners either surrender their weapons for destruction, apply for the new licence or go to jail if caught with illegal firearms.

      2) Ban high capacity magazines and military grade weapons etc and introduce an amnesty for people to surrender the illegal firearms with no further consequences.

      Perhaps Obamah should seriously consider his executive order powers and simply not give the trigger happy elements of US society any further say in the matter! It certainly seems as though the tide is turning against them this time around!

      report
    27. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "Freddy Hills has taken a statement I have made out of context."

      I did not. The economics of your statement was conserved. I merely used an analogy to expose it's flaw. Also, the Ludwig study appears to be a strawman because I don't see where it actually addresses my argument. Hard to tell since you didn't reference page numbers.

      "Freddy Hills then uses cherry picking, picking apart US crime statistics by race and finding an example of one country with a comparable murder rate."

      It might…

      Read more
    28. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Glad Freddy brings up folks like the Swiss....

      "Switzerland does not have a standing army, instead opting for a people's militia for its national defense. The vast majority of men between the ages of 20 and 30 are conscripted into the militia and undergo military training, including weapons training. The personal weapons of the militia are kept at home as part of the military obligations; Switzerland thus has one of the highest militia gun ownership rates in the world."

      -- how un-American…

      Read more
    29. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      And, Clinton was given the most effective solution in 1994, by states Attorneys General -- instruct DoD & all federal agencies to halt all weapons purchases from and payments to, manufacturers who make & distribute assault weapons & ammo to the civilian market.

      Pres. Obama was offered the same advice after the Aurora massacre. He was offered the same advice after the Sandy Hook massacre.

      That action could have been done within minutes of such events, forestalling the absurd upticks in weapons sales due to the NRA scaring for $ game.

      We are indeed dumb.

      report
    30. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      Let me understand, John, "Relatively few of the firearms related deaths in the US are of children." -- what;s your idea of "few"? What's your definition of "child"?

      You do realize your argument is bankrupt, despite your fine admission to having no need for a military-style weapon, right?

      report
    31. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Well Alex, I think from you post you have me pinned as the 'enemy'. At least I made a fine admission eh? I tried to think of a way to simply what i'm trying to say, so bear with me. I consider regulating semi autos as necessary and worthy. But in the short to medium term it will quite likely be of limited use. It is much harder to show the faces of those saved than count to bodies of those slain. Its entirely possible some will use these limits to argue the new laws don't work.

      Gun massacres might be big news but - the issue is much larger. Gun related deaths in total, and the industry and politics behind this is the big question. I'd hate to think some big, grand gesture, where people pat themselves on the back and then go back to sleep . Only to realize the root cause of the issue is still alive and as unwell as ever.

      report
    32. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      I think the one thing that needs to pointed out here is the difference between gun ownership, and guns owners here and the USA. Here owning a gun is a privilege, not a right. There has to be a reason to own a gun, there are checks. In the US there is the second amendment and a different culture / attitude. As with prohibition, some people tend to resist or ignore (or not enforce) laws which they regard to be outside ... sorry I can't think of a good way of putting it ... outside the norms of…

      Read more
    33. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Freddy Hills' statement has a very unusual and gross assumption. That the supply/demand for sexual assault is somehow kept in check by private ownership of firearms, rather than societal norms, policing and other factors. This assumption is not backed up by any research. He also ignores than fact that sexual assault is an under-reported crime, so its reported rates can vary as attitudes change.

      report
    34. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      The example of Switzerland is interesting as it does have high rates of gun possession, but has radical differences in gun culture to virtually all other western countries. In particular, the gun culture is strongly tied to military service. Furthermore, rates of poverty in Switzerland are very low compared to most other nations.

      Some articles that discuss this are online at

      http://www.businessinsider.com/switzerlands-gun-laws-are-a-red-herring-2012-12

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/mythbusting-israel-and-switzerland-are-not-gun-toting-utopias/

      Comparisons of the USA and Mexico are absurb given the differences in wealth and law enforcement.

      Slicing and dicing stats can lead to very misleading results. For example, one may be comparing the murder rate amongst relatively rich people in one country with the murder rate amongst both rich and poor people in another country.

      report
    35. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael, Freddy's entire model of supply and demand is a crude mechanical shop keeper notion torn out of the newsagency and applied to immense complex multifactored problems. Like fixing a broken window with a hammer. Just the wrong tool for the job really.

      There are some very strange things happening with crime figures in the US - dropping like a rock - and no one really knows why - no one at all actually... a bit of a mystery. But the attitude to crime - the fear of it - remains palpable - inflated by cops shows and the 24 hour news cycle. A very timid lot really.

      report
    36. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I did receive an email claiming that my numbers have no factual backing. Virtually all the relevant numbers have links to sources. The bulk of the stats come from US Bureau of Justice Statistics, the FBI and the Australian Institute of Criminology.

      report
    37. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      One of the factors compounding international crime comparisons is the curiously eccentric methods used to collect and cluster US crime and other statistics. Most odd when you look under the hood. Especially the stuff connect in any way to "race". Deeply disturbing assumptions and attitudes, both in what is measured and what is not, and how they make such judgements.

      It reflects a rather strange approach - an unusual attitude - to crime. This is deeply embedded in the fear underwriting the gun issue is the US - they're terrified... at least a lot of the white ones. The folks at gun shows.

      This sheds some light on it: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/01/30/120130crat_atlarge_gopnik

      report
    38. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Actually, gun crime is up in San Jose & Oakland Calif. partly because of gangs and partly because of police layoffs due to municipal budget cutbacks. Oakland needs about 300 more police to return to normal. SJ is working on getting back toward normal, but local budgets around the country have been trashed for various reasons including the gone-but-not-forgotten financial meltdown, in which our county and a city in Sweden, I believe, both lost $140 million via phony AAA securities.

      Maybe we can get the Wall St. jocks to return US law enforcement to where it was before they puked on the world?
      ;]

      report
    39. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      This has never been a valid 'shooters vs greenies' argument, nor a 2nd Amendment argument in the US.

      It's always been a money-making few influencing our laws for their own profit.

      It just happens that the NRA & gun gang make $ via guns. It could have been donuts -- they're bad for us too.

      However neither donuts nor automated weaponry are covered by our Constitution.

      The problem is simply that US adults haven't taken our responsibility to others seriously enough to quash the absurd, organized criminal activities in the US around guns.

      We outlawed machine guns because of extreme violence long ago. We've simply been asleep while the gun industry hasn't, and they've simply found ways to attract buyers for their more expensive products.

      We can shut that down easily, if we have the will.

      report
    40. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Now if that was western Sydney of a few years back I'd be suspecting that the lay-offs got the normal flow of crime all unbalanced and out of kilter.

      The coppers here "green lighted" particular crims and gangs - like a licence - in return for favours and a percentage. Winners of police medals for valour and heroism some of them. Vice cops licenced pimps and brothels, the Armed robbery squad gave the gangs hot tips, and everyone got a slice out of the casinos. Including the equivalent of the state governor Bob Askin. Very Louisianna.

      I wonder how long it takes for that sort of culture and opportunity to die out.

      report
    41. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "...how long it takes for that sort of culture and opportunity to die out."

      Don't ask me Peter, I'm from NJ.
      ;]

      report
    42. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      I didn't say "societal norms, policing and other factors" didn't affect crime rates. I said the possibility that a perpetrator could be shot will discourage them. Please don't misrepresent my position.

      Regardless, surveys of those engaged in criminal transactions indicate how it affects their decisions. Professors James Wright and Peter Rossi of the Social and Demographic Research Institue at the University of Massachusetts conducted a study in 1982 and 1983 funded by the U.S. Department of Justice…

      Read more
    43. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Your nut jobs who want to go out in a blaze of 'glory', taking as many innocents with them as possible, are not going to be terribly concerned about being shot by armed citizens in the end.

      What is the difference to them whether they meet their death by an armed citizen, a cop or their own hand?

      The debate you are having is primarily about preventing the continuous stream of massacres and not about preventing other crimes.

      report
    44. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "Slicing and dicing stats can lead to very misleading results."

      Let's recap. Your article claimed pro-gun advocates were deceptive to compare US and AUS rates. My first response claimed anti gun advocates were similarly deceptive in making comparisons.

      Regardless, you apparently made a case for gun restriction by suggesting it correlates with lower homicide rates. So I gave examples for which restriction did not correlate with lower rates. I wasn't using them to make a positive assertion. I was merely providing counter examples to your gun restriction claim.

      report
    45. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      In one comment you say the crime rate is dropping like a rock and no one knows why. In another comment you link a magazine article lamenting the high incarceration. I think you've just found part of your answer.

      report
    46. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Don't know about Aus, Freddy, but in the US, the incarceration rate has less to do with serious crime than silly sentencing for minor offenses, like small drug possessions.

      In Calif., we've begun correcting part of the problem that our naive 3-strikes law created, when it included minor crimes in the strikes.

      But, the private prison industry wants to have prisoners, not justice and not low crime.

      report
    47. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      "Your nut jobs who want to go out in a blaze of 'glory', taking as many innocents with them as possible..."

      Then perhaps this is a mental health issue rather than a firearms issue?

      *
      "What is the difference to them whether they meet their death by an armed citizen, a cop or their own hand?"

      Twelve. The average number of deaths in a mass shooting when stopped by the police is 14,3. The average number of deaths in a mass shooting when stopped by civilians is 2,3. So the difference is 12.

      *
      "The debate you are having is primarily about preventing the continuous stream of massacres and not about preventing other crimes."

      Actually, its not. The anti gun lobby would like to use mass shootings as a pretext to disarm law-abiding citizens. But mass shootings, while tragic and widely publicized, are statistically insignificant. Extremely rare events are a poor basis for public policy.

      report
    48. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Well Freddy, given that the USA seems to have a lot of mental health issues judging by the number of gun massacres there have been, it would be logical to most people in this world to eliminate easy access to firearms until such time that the USA has considerably less nut jobs running around than you currently do!

      report
    49. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Ok Freddy, we now know you're no stat, science, engineering or math grad...

      "The average number of deaths in a mass shooting when stopped by the police is 14,3. The average number of deaths in a mass shooting when stopped by civilians is 2,3. So the difference is 12."

      Here, now all can see how you validate Mark Twain on "lies, damned lies and statistics"...

      www.nycrimecommission.org/initiative1-shootings.php

      Let's see how many mass killings were "stopped by civilians" compared to cops…

      Read more
    50. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Awww, Freddy has revealed his harmlessness, except to numbers & facts.
      ;]

      report
    51. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I don't know if i'd dismiss the 'greenies vs shooters' as a valid argument outright, or possibly the second amendment. The certain use of statistics and insults in Australia tends to polarise us into groups and the risk i can see from this is some form of partisan warfare between minority groups skewing the debate. If that already isn't happening. Easy pickings for the greens on one side and an industry / gun lobby group on the other.

      Interestingly Obama made a comment along the lines that there needs to be dialogue between the people. I'm guessing that means not a dialogue between lobby groups! I'm hopeful the US finds its will. I'm hopeful over here that seek to gain benefit from dividing us up into angry mobs get lost. Slim hope mind you.

      report
    52. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      WRT statistically the mass shootings being insignificant. If the policy is to reduce masscares, then its not a poor basis. If it is used to support a policy that claims to impact significantly on gun related deaths, then its a poor basis indeed, as you have pointed out. As a basis for further restricting gun ownership in a country such as Australia, where semi autos are highly restricted, its absurd. Its conflating issues. But then, is arguing over the use of personal firearms to prevent crime also confusing the issue? I'd suggest its to everybodies benefit to be focused on the issue. Nothing more, nothing less.

      report
    53. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      Interesting try, John -- "to impact significantly on gun related deaths, then its a poor basis indeed, as you have pointed out"

      No, John, if you actually studied the stats you'd see the ones I presented were for "mass shootings", to counter your odd idea about good guys vs cops.

      The overall gun situation is far more extensive and relates directly to the ease of obtaining weapons of all types without background checks, registration, etc.

      I've no idea what your argument is, except perhaps that policy makers should turn a deaf ear to you.

      report
    54. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      In the 20th century, around 100 million people were massacred after governments banned firearms. So I'll take my chances with the "nut jobs".

      report
    55. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Freddy, you're just so 'superior' in your quest for fact! I mean why should we choose NY State police statistics when we have the "dailyanarchist.com"?

      I needed a good laugh tonight. Thanks Freddy!
      ;]

      report
    56. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to John Foley

      I think every aspect should be considered but not disproportionate to its effects. Mass shootings represent ~ 0.1% of gun homicides. Therefore, it shouldn't be the sole basis for evaluating firearms ownership while neglecting the crimes prevented and lives saved by their defensive use.

      report
    57. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Freddy Hills is one of America's nut jobs with an itchy trigger finger.

      What is the difference between Freddy Hills and a computer?
      ..........

      What is 6 miles long and has an IQ of 105?
      The queue in front of an american gun shop!

      report
    58. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Your rejecting a study due to its source rather than merit is an ad hominem. That doesn't mean the study is valid. But it does mean your reason for rejecting it was not.

      Your source was a non profit organization and not the New York State police. I don't object to your source. I was just correcting you.

      Your source didn't address the question of fatalities when the shooter was stopped by police rather than an armed citizen.

      report
    59. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Total IQ of 105, right Greg?
      ;]
      And here I'd thought Freddy was Aussie -- my opinion of all Aussies is now back to its prior high level!

      We're still waiting for Freddy to explain his manly need for trigger-activated casing ejection and cartridge load.

      Bets?

      report
    60. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      You know what a "canard" is Freddy?

      But you sure do know how to make an argument where there is none.

      report
    61. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Aussie? He sounds more like an expatriote american to me.

      If he is an aussie then perhaps we should pack him off to america.

      No doubt they would appreciate him more than we do.

      report
    62. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      My odd idea? No that's Freds. You clearly don't know what my argument is. Quite possibly something to do with the fact that i'm a dullard and you're quite the clever chap. Deaf ears indeed. People like you are a great recruiting tool for the gun lobby. Keep up the good work!

      report
    63. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      Wish I knew what you're talking about, John. Perhaps I have confused something you said with Freddy's verbal flow?

      report
    64. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      You might want consider where you are on this post. Sidetracked into the murky world of tit-for-tat ‘stats’ on gun control. Bit like the climate change debate, the point is to not debate the issue so much as confuse the bejeesus out of the punters. Have people either disengage or pick a side based on whatever their existing beliefs are.

      Take the fact that the massacres are a statistically insignificant proportion of all gun related deaths. Despite these deaths being not insignificant in…

      Read more
    65. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      Got you reduced to tautologies, eh John?

      And you're being victimized? -- "I find distasteful is insulting gun owners."

      I'm a gun owner, likely longer than you. So were my ancestors back to the Revolution (don't know before that).

      Again, John, you explain to us what manly purpose you have for trigger-automated ejection of a spent cartridge and loading of a fresh one.

      And, maybe you & Freddy can concall the CT Gov. and ask him what he saw in that open casket a few weeks ago.

      report
    66. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Who said I'm a gun owner? Who said i supported semi automatics? I've actually posted here that I do not. You accused me of claiming victimisation. No I didn't. Then there is your invitation to call the CT gov. Ever considered why you would appropriate others grief?

      Alex, I find insults unnecessary and counterproductive, regardless of where they come from. They say more about the person giving them than the person receiving. It would seem you cannot address what i have said, when i all i have stated supports regulation. You have reduced my will to converse with a closed minded person.

      report
    67. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      John, the issue for you is your fog of argumentation. For example...

      "Take the fact that the massacres are a statistically insignificant proportion of all gun related deaths. Despite these deaths being not insignificant in human terms, you reacted to this point – it was like baiting the hook. Burley the waters with a bit of ‘guns prevent crime’ "

      What are you trying to say, John?" (I can look up burley)?

      report
    68. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Burley - chum in the US? When you react to the Freddy Hills of the world, you play their game. If they can't win the argument on semi autos, then they start another argument. Deterrence in this case. There was absolutely no need to refute the statistical insignificance of semi-auto facilitated massacres. People just don't want to get mown down in public places - simple. We are not talking about a lot of people, but that's not the point. And it should absolutely not be the point, as this is setting the stage for the gun lobby to try and show the regulations failed. Michael tried to make the point that the other issues surrounding gun control are varied and complex and deserve consideration separately. That is the understatement of the century!!!

      report
    69. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      Ok, John, then we agree. Ace!
      ;]
      We're finally taking care of business & folks like Freddy up here.

      report
    70. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Never been on a different page … maybe that’s the point to it all. Its all about perceptions. Speaking of which, do you realise that in Australia, you would be a ‘Freddy Hills”? You own a gun, its you. You may very well feel unfairly characterised, etc, but that matters little. Whatever means justify the end, no guns. And it’s a point not lost on either of our gun lobbies. Albeit there are vastly different circumstances between our countries. It’s one of the reasons we need to be civil, honest and have a dialogue with those we don’t agree with.

      report
    71. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      No John, not quite on the same page, if you think I as an Aussie couldn't have a gun because I would object to any registration of it, etc.

      See I'd be happy to do even more than the US or Aus requires for a car. And again, I've no objection to denial of any automated gun features.

      report
    72. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Not saying that you couldn't have a gun here ... we regulations based around 'genuine reason'. We have databases. And we don't have semi autos for the average punter - go figure! What i was pointing out is what people make of gun owners over here, particularly the anti gunners. I was trying to see if you could see it from a different perspective. Not to change your mind! No, its not what you are arguing, its how.

      report
    73. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      John, I'm not arguing anything except with folks who think trigger-activated anything but cartridge firing is reasonable for civilian possession.

      report
    74. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Next time I venture out in pursuit of varmints - I'm a taking one o' these Metal Storm fellas... an Australian invention incidentally.... shucks I feel so proud and tingly.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKlnMwuCZso

      I'm feeling a whole new wave of infringed constitutional entitlement coming on. Not even a gun technically. Probably don't need a license in Texas.

      More realistically, I wonder how long before a rifle based on that hits the street market?

      report
    75. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Cool! What a biz opportunity -- at a buck a round!

      Of course the poor guy loading & reloading is much like the GI who had the flamethrower -- The Target of the other guys.

      Wonder if they can reload it fast enough to melt it before the DoD budget is blown away, like the target?
      ;]

      report
  25. Greg Boyles

    Lanscaper and former medical scientist

    Just watching the doco "In the shadow of the moon".

    What the hell has happened to that America? Where has it gone?

    All we are left with is one that is obsessed by guns and living Hollywood cowboy fantasies along with all but military conquest and occupation of foreign lands.

    report
    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      The problems and attitudes have always been here, Greg. We simply have to wait a few more decades for the remaining aberrants to pass on.

      report
  26. Michael J. I. Brown

    ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

    The issue of deterrence has been raised here and elsewhere in the debate. Does easy access to guns deter crime or facilitate it? While there are individual events where deterrence does matter, there is little evidence that gun deterrence lowers overall crime rates. In fact, there is some evidence that access to guns may increase crime rates.

    For example, “The Effects of Gun Prevalence on Burglary: Deterrence vs Inducement” by Cook & Ludwig finds the following: “Guns in the home may pose a threat to burglars, but also serve as an inducement, since guns are particularly valuable loot. Other things equal, a gun-rich community provides more lucrative burglary opportunities than one where guns are more sparse. The new empirical results reported here provide no support for a net deterrent effect from widespread gun ownership. Rather, our analysis concludes that residential burglary rates tend to increase with community gun prevalence”.

    report
    1. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      There are a number of studies finding that gun ownership deters crime such as Lott & Mustard (1997) and Kleck & Gertz (1995). Cook & Ludwig (2000) not only attempts to refute those studies but claims gun ownership induces crime.

      This article by Dave Kopel explains that Cook & Ludwig (2000) does not refute Lott or Kleck because their arguments are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, Kopel then explains why Cook & Ludwig's findings could indicate reverse causality.

      http://www.davekopel.com/2A/ch/Comment-on-The-Effects-of-Gun-Prevalence-on-Burglary.htm

      Read more
    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      Dave Kopel is a benefactor member of the NRA, so his blog posts may not provide the most balanced overview of the issue. Lott's work has also received significant criticism (a summary is provided at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_Guns,_Less_Crime#Opposition).

      While polling of prisoners does show they are concerned about armed potential victims, it does not show whether that benfit is countered by crime that is facilitated by easy access to guns. There is no conclusive research that more guns lead to less crime.

      report
    3. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "Lott's work has also received significant criticism "

      Maybe so. But 'The Chronicle of Higher Education' reports most researchers support Lott's findings that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime.

      http://chronicle.com/article/More-Guns-Less-Crime-/12081
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_Guns,_Less_Crime#Support

      This, however, is beside the point because I have repeatedly said my argument isn't based on Lott's research. In fact, you conspicuously ignored the research that my argument…

      Read more
    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      So, Freddy, you did do due diligence on "The Independence Institute", right?

      Why didn't you reveal it's a libertarian group? -- that "has ties to ALEC through its membership with the State Policy Network, which itself is a member of ALEC/"

      Remember, ALEC is what helped our oddball state legislatures try to remove women's rights, privatize schools, etc? Denying women's rights is "libertarian", Freddy?

      Then too, your crutches in "Lott & Mustard", "Kleck & Gertz" and "Cook & Ludwig" are…

      Read more
    5. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      It is worthwhile reading The Chronicle of Higher Education article "'More Guns, Less Crime' Thesis Rests on a Flawed Statistical Design, Scholars Argue" in full.

      From the article it is clear that research claiming easy access to guns reduces crime is very much disputed. A key pargraph, which is contrary to many claims made by gun advocates, is

      At least six subsequent studies have tended to confirm Mr. Lott's findings, while at least four others have tended to cast doubt on them. Mr. Donohue notes that Mr. Lott's research has convinced his peers of at least one point: No scholars now claim that legalizing concealed weapons causes a major increase in crime.

      report
    6. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      "From the article it is clear that research claiming easy access to guns reduces crime is very much disputed."

      What research? Lott & Mustard (1997) or Wright & Rossi (1986)? I have repeatedly said my argument is based on the latter. And you have repeatedly tried to shift the focus to the former.

      Either address the argument or concede the point.

      report
    7. Michael Davey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Freddy Hills

      If your going to suggest studies by John Lott, I would suggest, strongly suggest, that you first do a Google search for:

      "John Lott" and "fraud"
      "John Lott" and "ethics"
      "John Lott" and "sock puppet"
      "John Lott" and "pseudonym"

      Mr. Lott has a history that is, shall we say, less then what one would want as a professor that publishes scholarly articles.
      Quote: "Lott then made matters even worse by posing as a former student, "Mary Rosh," and using the alias to attack his critics and defend…

      Read more
  27. Lisa Hoare

    logged in via Facebook

    I find that an interesting part of the statistic debate is: America has to look to Australia for statistics as they failed to keep their own data, by legislating that no-one should look at the effects on gun ownership in the US. No centralised gathering of facts & figures allowed because we know it isnt going to back our side. We also have nothing to hide Australian crime statistics are easy to find, transparent and have no bias in them. Just lots of boring numbers and if you really want to read them explanations of anomollies and spikes. For example rises in sexual assault/assault charges have nothing to do with guns better reporting processes, changes in domestic abuse laws and a more sympathetic court system were all factors. So in fact it is a good thing. by this we can see social changes at work.

    report
    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Lisa Hoare

      Yep, we've let lobbyists control almost everything except when we can go potty!
      ;]

      report
    2. Freddy Hills

      logged in via email @hushmail.com

      In reply to Lisa Hoare

      "We also have nothing to hide Australian crime statistics are easy to find, transparent and have no bias in them."

      As the author of this article has repeatedly stated, the results of Australia's gun restriction are debatable.

      *

      "For example rises in sexual assault/assault charges have nothing to do with guns better reporting processes, changes in domestic abuse laws and a more sympathetic court system were all factors."

      Do you have any evidence to support that claim?

      report
  28. jesse warner

    Land Surveyor

    "In the Wall Street Journal, Joyce Lee Malcolm stated

    In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults.

    The implication is gun control has increased assaults and sexual assaults. This is completely misleading."

    i would like the person that wrote this article to explain how anyone other than himself implied anything by what was…

    Read more
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to jesse warner

      The relevant statistics are available from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), and are linked from many places within the article (e.g., http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html)

      Joyce Lee Malcolm’s article for WSJ was specifically on the impact of gun control laws (it is titled “two cautionary tales of gun control”). Malcolm presumably wants readers to believe that all the statistics are related to gun control, or she decided to add irrelevant statistics to her article on gun control.

      report
  29. Alex Cannara

    logged in via Facebook

    A wise suggestion has been made to achieve the aims of gun control without scaring gun owners -- legalize marijuana.

    In the US, we'd immediately save $, generate tax $, undercut the cartels and related crime, and encourage all to just mellow out with a smoke or two a day.

    The result would benefit crime stats of all sorts. Even those with redneck weapons caches would even mellow out and maybe even forget what all those nasty toys are for, or where they are.
    ;]

    report
  30. Rolliby

    logged in via Twitter

    According to official US FBI stats, more homicides are committed via non-firearm methods than with a firearm. Have a nice day.

    report
    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rolliby

      Hey Rolly, you may have something there!

      But you missed that most all deaths are caused by birth.

      Keep workin' on that Nobel speech.
      ;]

      report
    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      G'day Alex...

      Aside from Bruce Willis scenes being played out for real in Las Vegas and the like there's been a lull in the coverage of the US gun control issue here over the last few weeks. Although there was a very disturbing doco on TV about an outfit called the "Daughters of the 2nd Amendment" or somesuch... little scaled down 22 rifles in pink and blue for the kiddies!

      Have you got a feeling about how the discussion/battle is going?

      report
    3. John Foley

      Various ...

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      The tables show that handguns, more specifically, were involved in almost half of all firearm related homicides. And knives were involved in just over five times the homicides than rifles. Which means nothing to me without a context, some explanation. Besides which, the context here is not the 'stats', it can't be with the relatively lower numbers. Its possibly something to do with people not liking the idea of crazies with semi autos shooting up schools and cinemas.

      Why it has to get anymore complicated that that beats me.

      BTW folks ... Rolliby has the stars 'n stripes in her pic.

      report
    4. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Foley

      This isn't a gun control issue. Why else would the Obama Regime remove the bolt carriers from the ceremonial M1 Garand Rifles that the marines carry? The marines are the longest lasting biggest and most prideful branch of our uniformed services. He is attempting a takeover to make me and you less of a constituent and more of a subject. This has bullshit written all over it. Mexicans out number any other race in Colorado, maybe that's why our democratically controlled state is such. Mexicans cross…

      Read more
    5. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I didn't. I voted Libertarian for my ethical and moral beliefs of all are equal.

      report
    6. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes actually when republicans and democrats arguing is the cause of the recession which is actually greater than the great depression. You have a really fucked up moral compass. I'm surprised you found your keyboard.

      report
    7. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      This dumb-ass reminded me why I stopped posting here. No one will stop accusing anyone of the opposite party. Politics are warfare. Sorry I tried to educate Americans ethically and morally. Apparently I don't have 1st amendment rights but he does.... weird world I live in I guess.

      report
    8. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Ah ... not part of a well-regulated militia then... thank heavens for that. Perhaps a lone gunman?

      Are "inalienable" rights not open to interpretation? I wonder how that works? What would an "inalienable right" actually be I wonder

      Incidentally I'm not a liberal - I'm much much worse than that. Over here liberals are conservatives. But we're a much younger and friskier country.

      Nice style of discussion.

      Good luck over there Alex. We need engineers over here you know.

      report
    9. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I don't think anyone who considers a war with violence as an option has the morality to be able to make a better than human decision. BTW I didn't like any of the presidents in the last 20 years. More so after the recent NDAA and Patriot Act extension and HIPAA. You don't know me so stop trying to figure me out. I am a free man and if I lose that freedom I would rather be publicly executed for my moral convictions than not be free alive.

      report
    10. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      btw over here? you live in Australia which means nothing done here is going to effect you. You do not have a say in this. You have your country and I have mine. Butt the fuck out of my international Sovereignty.

      report
    11. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      I'm done posting because my moral and ethical beliefs are all that matter to me. You won't convince me. Only strengthen my stand on this. I hope you have a good day. :)

      report
    12. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      However stop accusing me. I've had enough politically biased conviction on who I am. Being depressed over a family member dying doesn't make me a mental defective let alone violent. In america you would be sued by anyone but me who you would accuse the same thing of. This is about moral convictions and doing good things while not using emotion to fuck it up. Funny? no how about annoying that you crack a joke when Australia was founded as a penal colony.

      report
    13. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Oh and by the way again you don't know me. I'm 21 and don't drink. I can't afford food even. Minimum wage doesn't keep up with the expensive cost of housing. Shut your mouth outcast.

      report
    14. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      however you forget that each individual man and woman are free. You allowed your government to tell you what to do for a better cause. and lawfully and truthfully they don't until I overturn it in a court later this month. the same law that takes it allows for it to be overturned. Due process is the best ally. You are sadistic to make fun of me for this political issue. I have reported all your posts that attack me for my mental health when I was 13 mind you for discrimination. You are less of a human than I. However I said human we all make mistakes and we all have issues.

      report
    15. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      by the way mentioning violence on a american topic could possibly put you on the FBI watch list since your are a foreigner and the extension to the patriot act allows for unwarranted wiretaps and unwarranted seizures of emails and person computer files without a slight reason for reasonable suspicion of which is not probable cause. Watch what you say. NDAA authorizes indefinite detention as well. It's not very descriptive on who is a terrorist and what defines a domestic terrorist either. I don't fear my lying cheating and unreasonably over-payed politicians. I fear losing freedom and the pursuit of happiness. However I think you are the opposite.

      report
    16. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      By the way conditions are not permanent and i don't currently have a condition. Again you show that you would rather falsely convict someone over not understanding and not showing compassion.

      report
    17. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      But however to show I am the better person here I cannot own until it is overturned and I could care less about a bushmaster. I do NOT own right now. Get the hell out of my business. Not for you to know.

      report
    18. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      The question is Nick do you think you are in any condition to own an "assault rifle"?

      I know you folks are terrified of "losing your freedom" ... but it doesn't look at all free from here...your government is your "enemy", the place is full of "foreigners" mowing your lawns and minding the kids... and based on the evidence, the pursuit of happiness isn't going to well either is it?

      All I can see is a mob of folks who are terrified that someone with a bigger gun is going to take them out - be it someone from the ATF, from Washington, from Queens or Oakland, from Juarez... enemies and threats are everywhere ... Is this what Fox News and too many Bruce Willis movies does to people?

      report
    19. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Matt Damon is for gun control but yet he makes millions off of violent gun-based movies. Leave celebrities out of this because they are all stupid as fuck. In fact, I read. I don,t watch movies. Haven't had time to play Halo a game which legally I can play and buy on my own. Don't tell me Americans are dramatic and love violence because if they did they wouldn't be banning guns. Believe it or not I actually see no use for an AR-15 however I don't see a use for a mental health list if doctors have…

      Read more
    20. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      By the way I support Bruce Willis and his beliefs of dismantling the bill of rights. Nice stalking me by checking out my Facebook page you child molester. It's that easy to see you did look at my page because I just like his page yesterday and is the most recent like on my recent like page. You are moral fucked up you creep.

      report
    21. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, we're soldiering on, as the NRA gets more & more desperate to protecttheir kickbacks and our retirement funds are divesting of Ruger, Remington, etc.

      We'll see if we can grow up and treat guns at least as wsielky as we do those other lethal weapons -- cars.
      ;]

      report
    22. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Let me tell you in my country what you are doing and saying to me classifies as a harassment charge.

      report
    23. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Aw heck Nick ... Ok I can understand someone not liking Obama or Bush. Not liking the guvvermint... any guvvermint... Not liking the result of an election any elections ...Not liking mexicans or canadians even ... Feeling their freedom has been stolen and being lost in the hunt for happiness but gee if ALL your celebrities are "all as stupid as fuck" - what's left to live for? There is no hope.

      report
    24. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Wow, Nick, who knew a Yank could yak as much as this!?

      This is doo, though...
      "Leave celebrities out of this because they are all stupid as fuck."

      You just said Damon "makes millions". Maybe you meant 'stupid as a Koch"? That's a 4-letter word too.
      ;]

      report
    25. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Movies will never make me happy good politicians will never make me happy. My family will always make me happy and when I have children they will make me happy when I make them happy too. Celebs don't make me happy. I am starting to think you have a psychosis based form of manic depression by how you think and talk.

      report
    26. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Yank is a word the red coats called Americans. Who won that war? oh wait the United States of America. Don't forget the history you should have learned as a child. He makes millions. and money doesn't make me happy until they day its useless. Money tells me you have a greed issue brought upon by a control issue in your life.

      report
    27. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Nick I know you won't believe this but I have not looked you up on Facebook. I don't go anywhere near Facebook ... I am amazed that you would even have a Facebook page given how much information they store and make available to the FBI. the IRS, the ATF and lots of other letters.

      I think you need a bit of help mate. Nothing personal but you have some deeply disturbed thoughts and perceptions. There are meds that will help. True. And you will feel a lot less fearful and a lot less under attack. Nothing wrong with getting some help.

      report
    28. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Look up non-profit super PAC's its unethical to donate anonymously and have it tax free. Especially when your a hypocrit and your fans would not like you if they knew. Morals and ethics that is all this is about. Yeah its sad children died in Newtown and its not ok for it to happen. Unfortunately, this issue is not in your country and you will never vote on it. Have a great day to the two people who like to insult and belittle others. If you can contest that you are stupid than you sound. PS Obama killed 618 kids in Pakistan last year alone with illegal drone strikes. He himself authorizes those strikes as they enter Pakistani Airspace. They are a sovereign nation. Those children were called collateral damage and was an "exceptable" loss to my countries leaders.

      report
    29. Nicholas Mangan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I have nothing further to say to you. You just crossed a line. Show me you Medical licences from your country or I will contact them and report you for providing medical diagnosis without licensing. I KNOW that's illegal in your country. Watch what you say.

      report
    30. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      No I'm not offering you a diagnosis Nick. Nor do I think it is your own personal problem. This illness seems very widespread in the US of late.

      I'll leave you alone now.

      But I'm glad you're not frightened of the socialist dictator, the FBI and the rest ... and I'm particularly glad you don't have an AR15. But I'll keep my eye on the news for you just in case.

      report
    31. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, you've struck some sort of nerve paydirt here with my fellow Americun, Nick...
      -----
      "nothing done here is going to effect you. You do not have a say in this. You have your country and I have mine.

      I'm done posting because my moral and ethical beliefs are all that matter to me. You won't convince me. Only strengthen my stand on this. I hope you have a good day.

      In america you would be sued by anyone but me who you would accuse the same thing of. This is about moral convictions and…

      Read more
    32. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Nick, baby, real Americuns don't display their ignorance so freely. Since you're 21, you have no real idea about anything having to do with wars many of us got drafted to serve in.

      And, just for your faux patriotic boneheadedness, one of my ancestors was a Colonel in the Revolutionary Army, while another relative signed the Declaration of Independence,.

      You could well study what folks before you have said and sacrificed so you can freely blab your way around the world, Nick.
      ;]

      report
    33. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes, Peter, more information and action has been appearing this time, now that 20 little kids have been allowed to be murdered in public view.

      The holding company Freedom Group covers for some gun makers, and it was funded largely by hedge fund Cerberus, whose head was called by his dad after the Sandy Hook murders and told to get out -- the dad lives in Sandy Hook.

      That started exposure of who owns what, and who makes what and sells to whom in the gun biz.

      report
    34. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Yeah ... didn't actually mean to do that ... wasn't looking for paydirt in that sense - the poor kid's obviously having some serious troubles. But it's something I've been encountering a lot of late - this tsunami of fear and paranoia... everything - EVERYTHING - is out to get them... like they are under attack from the 21st century.

      Is this something that's taken hold after 9/11 or has it always been there? I don't understand it at all.

      They claim to be "patriots" and love the USofA…

      Read more
    35. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Our demographics are changing in ways that scare some, but will in fact make us all better.

      If we can only grow out of intellectual gerrymandering, like Citizen's United and the Fox News follies.

      report
    36. Michael Davey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      "...it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
      Shakespeare.

      report
    37. Michael Davey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Worse then the Great Depression?

      How old are you? I assume old enough to be able to read, since you seem to be using a computer. Anyone who says the current recession is worse then the Great Depression knows nothing about history and even less about current affairs. Your suggestion is absurd.

      During the Great Depression the unemployment rate was 25%. One quarter of the country was unemployed. Severe malnutrition was rampant. There were no programs like social security, or unemployment insurance. Soup kitchen lineups went on for blocks. It lasted until the US entered WWII, or about 14 years. Most of the banks failed, those who had money in those banks lost everything.

      This time most people were protected when banks failed via insurance that the banks paid. The worst unemployment rate was 12, and it's currently at less then 8.

      If your going to say absurd things you can at least back them up with some sort of facts or figures.

      report
    38. Michael Davey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      Who is trying to take away your 1st amendment rights? I someone stopping you from typing? Is it Obama? Is Obama's secret UN police stopping you from typing?

      The man asks you questions about things you post and you say that your first amendment rights are being attacked?

      That's simply not true. The first amendment doesn't stop people from asking you questions, or pointing out that what you say is absurd.

      report
    39. Michael Davey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nicholas Mangan

      More children die in the USA from gun violence every year. I'm pretty sure more Iraq children died in the Iraq war. War is hell. And the drone strikes are not illegal if the government allows them. Bush did them, congress allowed them, the senate allowed them. If your going to complain about Obama's use of drone strikes then at least be fair and add in Bush's drone strikes.

      And why is it terrible to use a drone to kill people, but using an F14 OK? Or a tank? I don't understand why an armed forces…

      Read more
  31. Thomas Ward

    logged in via Facebook

    This whole article is cherry picking and obscuring the truth. Of course gun deaths would drop after you put a ban on guns (even just certain guns). What this article fails to do is compare what the overall homicide rate was to what it is now. The figures i found (from an official Australian gov't site) says the homicide rate was 1.9 per 100,000, now it's 1.3 per 100,000. Sounds good until you realize the drop is less than .001%. That's statistically insignificant. With the rate dropping only .6 per 100,000, it means the criminals have just switched their weapon of choice from guns to something else. Blaming guns instead of blaming the people who actually pulled the trigger is equivalent to blaming the cars instead of the driver in auto accidents.

    report
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Thomas Ward

      Thomas Ward does not understand maths nor statistics. Also, the article is not about "blaming guns" but about the misuse of crime statistics.

      The drop in murder rate from 1.9 per 100,000 to 1.2 per 100,000 corresponds to a ~37% drop in murder rate, not a <0.001% as Thomas Ward claims. (If murders had completed ceased in Australia, dropping from 1.9 per 100,000 to 0, that would be a 100% drop in murder rate, not a 0.0019% drop in murder rate.)

      The trend-line fitted by the AIC to the data shows a statistically significant drop in the Australian murder rate (e.g., http://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/homicide.html). There are many introductions to statistical significance available online.

      report