Debunked: Obama and National Journal’s claim more gun laws equals less deaths

Debunked: Obama and National Journal’s claim more gun laws equals less deaths

Obama and anti-gun liberals everywhere are citing a National Journal article that features a chart that purports to show that states with more gun laws have less “gun deaths”. Obama said “States with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens [to obtain guns] and criminals will still get their guns, is not borne out by the evidence.” There’s a problem with this claim though: it’s completely wrong.

The chart in National Journal ranks each state by their rate of “gun-related deaths” and a check list in column format showing whether each state has gun-restricting laws like waiting periods, state-level universal background checks, or requiring a gun permit to purchase a gun, and also laws that expand gun accessibility and use, like concealed-carry, or ‘right to carry’ laws and stand-your-ground laws. The chart’s is offered as the proof of the article’s title: The States With The Most Gun Laws See The Fewest Gun-Related Deaths.

There are several problems with this article and its chart: it includes suicides by gun to account for the vast majority (over two-thirds) of “gun deaths” which gun control policy doesn’t even remotely address, it employs gross distortion of the facts, focuses on gun homicides while ignoring the overall homicide rate in each state, and disingenuously includes “lawful” gun deaths by law enforcement and citizens who have lawfully defended themselves with a gun. It also completely ignores the other side of the coin, which is that according to the CDC and other Federal agencies, people lawfully use their gun to defend themselves, reduce injury and save lives far more often than people are murdered regardless of what means is used to murder (knives, guns, blunt objects, etc.). Even the most restrictive, conservative estimates show self-defense far outpaces murder in America.

Gun control doesn’t address suicide deaths
The largest problem is the National Journal article relies on suicide numbers to make “gun deaths” seem like an epidemic related to crime like gangland shootings and Roseburg, OR shooting at Umpqua Community College. The FBI Uniform Crime Reports show 8,124 firearms homicides, 444 justifiable homicides by law enforcement and 277 justifiable homicides by civilian in 2014. The CDC reports 505 accidental gun deaths and 21,175 gun suicides out of approximately 41,149 total annual suicides (page 22, Table 10, full PDF linked below) in 2013. There is some debate about access to guns resulting in successful suicide attempt versus other means, but unless anti-gun rights activists are taking the position that all guns should be outlawed and confiscated and destroyed, then this is a disingenuous point to quibble over. To date, very few gun control advocates are brazen enough to suggest repealing the Second Amendment and confiscating all firearms.

There are several problems with including suicide gun deaths in the total when pushing for gun control policy like universal background checks, magazine capacity restrictions, banning certain types of firearms, so-called “smart” gun technology, micro-stamping bullet casings, increasing waiting periods, or any of the other policies advocated to-date by gun control activists.

First, gun control advocates don’t actually at all about suicides. Anti-gun rights activists have been documented admitting that suicides are not their problem, nor are they interested in solving the issue of suicides. Falsely conflating suicides with gun homicides just a convenient way to make it appear that gun crime is three times as bad as it actually is. Which begs the question: if the anti-gun rights Left believed the facts support their case, then why do they feel compelled in exaggerate the facts and conflate data to make their case?

Second, the empirical data for suicide rates overall in the U.S. compared to gun sales rates do not logically support the idea that less guns results in less suicide. Gun sales have skyrocketed over recent years (with estimates ranging from 310 to 350 million), while suicide rates in the U.S. have plummeted. We have more guns and less suicide, which is the exact opposite correlation from the false narrative promoted by gun control advocates like Obama. Internationally, many nations with very strict gun control have much higher suicide rates than the U.S. does, which cannot be attributed to more guns in those nations. Japan, for instance, which virtually no gun ownership and no gun homicides but almost double the U.S. suicide rate. Australia, which is frequently referred to as a shining example of gun control in a developed nation, has higher suicide per capita than the U.S. does (13.8 per 100k vs 10.1 per 100k in the U.S.). The data does not support the claim that fewer guns results in less suicide. A Harvard-published study of 36 developed nations by professors Kates and Mauser found there is no link between gun availability and suicide rates.

Third, there is no gun control policy proposal that would logically reduce suicides. Magazine capacity restrictions? How many bullets over 1 does it take to suicide? How could a person even attempt to commit suicide by firing a weapon even 10 times, which is the current policy being advocated, much less a full 30 times? How would universal background checks solve suicide? What stops a person from passing the check, maybe years prior to attempting suicide, and then committing suicide later? The problem of waiting periods also suffers from the same issue: how does a five or 10 day waiting period stop a suicide attempt after they’ve passed the waiting period and now have possession of the gun?  How would micro-stamping, which simply marks the bullet casing with a unique mark, prevent suicide? How would banning certain types of guns prevent suicide? Suicide has been successful even with .22LR, which is about the smallest, least-powerful bullet caliber available. The fact that anti-gun rights activists do not have a single proposal that would actually address suicide demonstrates that this is not an issue that genuinely concerns them.

Fact Checking
President Obama’s was implying if only obstinate gun clingers would just get out of the way and let the benevolent benefactors on the Left implement some “common-sense gun controls”, then we’d see less mass murders like the Roseburg, OR shooting at Umpqua Community College. He asserted that states with more gun laws are somehow safer. But Obama’s comments have been criticized by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, who gave Obama “Two Pinocchios” which meansSignificant omissions and/or exaggerations”. This is again largely because suicides are unrelated to gun control laws. The Washington Post cited academic studies (including by authors from Harvard and Boston University) that “have shown little connection between suicides and access to guns,” and “A 2004 report published by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “some gun control policies may reduce the number of gun suicides, but they have not yet been shown to reduce the overall risk of suicide in any population.” The Post recalculated the chart taking out suicides and found no correlation between gun laws and gun deaths: some highly restrictive gun law states had high gun deaths, and some states with comparatively looser gun laws had fewer gun deaths. They note there is a mix and academics disagree on whether there is an overall trend.

Homicides or just gun homicides?
UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh (author at the Volokh Conspiracy) wrote a response in the Washington Post titled “Zero correlation between state homicide rate and state gun laws”, where he writes “it turns out that there is essentially zero correlation between [homicide] numbers and state gun laws.” Professor Volokh’s approach is more honest when talking about crime reduction as he focuses on homicide rates overall, not just homicides committed with a gun. There are two common tactics by the anti-gun rights Left: one is to conflate gun homicides with other non-criminal gun deaths and refer to it as “gun-related” or simply “gun deaths” while they are purportedly advocating reducing crime. The other is to ignore other methods of homicides and focus solely on homicides committed by a gun, as if that somehow not crime, or that it is uniquely worthy of your moral outrage, where murder by any other means is somehow not. Murder doesn’t exist in a vacuum however, and focusing on one instrument by which it is carried out is morally bankrupt and intellectually inane.

Lawful interventions disingenuously included
There is additional criticism that both the Washington Post Fact Check and professor Volokh did not address. Neither tackles the fact that the National Journal chart includes lawful intervention in the context of criminal activity. The key here is that Obama and others on the anti-gun rights Left argue and/or imply that more restrictive gun laws will reduce criminal gun activity (“…criminals will still get their guns, is not borne out by the evidence.”).

Lawful intervention may be either by law enforcement or by law-abiding citizens. Neither is criminal activity. Do anti-gun rights activists want the police to not intervene to stop crime? Including lawful interventions as part of nefarious-sounding “gun deaths” is the height of duplicity. No crime is occurring when lawful intervention results in the death of (a criminal) by use of a gun.

Self-defense ignored
Further, what is not considered in the anti-gun rights equation is the number of instances where guns are lawfully used for self-defense. According to the CDC, lawful self-defense with a gun occurs a minimum of 500,000 times annually, deters crime and reduces injury to potential victims when they use a gun for their own defense. Other academic criminologists have put the number of defensive gun uses much higher. Other studies found the number of instances to be 1.5 million annually (and higher). Whatever the accurate number is, anti-gun rights activists have completely ignored the lives saved with a gun, while fraudulently including gun suicides as justification for how bad “crime” is.

There is no clear link between gun control restrictions and reducing suicides, in fact, the empirical evidence shows quite the opposite correlation. Even if there were a clear link, there is no gun control policy being pushed that could be logically expected to reduce suicides. What is being promoted by the anti-gun rights Left is misinformation, cherry-picked partial information, and half-truths to outright falsehoods.

Criminal violence and mass murder are problems that we ought to work towards reducing. In point of fact, child homicides in schools, the national homicide rate overall, and violent crime nationally have dropped by half since the early 1990’s. It’s a good start. More could be done, but not by promoting falsehoods and misinformation. We ought to increase lawful gun carry, which is the CDC reports deters crime and is supported by law enforcement, and we should end completely ineffective “gun free” zones. We ought to address the underlying causes of violence, including drug abuse, the drug trade, gangs, poverty (especially urban poverty), and other factors that lead to increased crime per capita in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA’s). Exploiting tragedies to push false narratives doesn’t genuinely help anyone.


Homicides Worse in Gun Control Chicago Than All U.S. Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan or Iraq

Homicides Worse in Gun Control Chicago Than All U.S. Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan or Iraq

More people were murdered in strict gun-control Chicago from 2001 to 2013 than the total number of U.S. military killed in Afghanistan since 2001 or killed in Iraq since 2003. Gun control advocates would have us believe that ‘tougher laws’ or fewer guns would lead to fewer deaths. We do a sewer-to-household comparsion, and find that – contrary to conventional wisdom – the household is far less sanitary.

It was not legal to own a gun, even in your home, in Chicago until the 2010 Supreme Court case, McDonald v Chicago. The court ruled that because of the 14th Amendment, state governments cannot infringe upon Constitutionally-protected rights under the 2nd Amendment. Following McDonald v Illinois, the 7th Circuit court ruled in Moore v Madigan that Illinois’ law prohibiting any means for a lawful concealed carry license, and thereby legally carry a gun outside of one’s home, was invalid. The courts gave Illinois legislature until June of 2013 to enact a new law. The state legislature did adopt a new law that allowed citizens to apply for a license to carry a gun in public, but gave law enforcement several months to set up systems to begin taking applications. The first applications began in early 2014.

During the entire time period from 2001 to 2013 it was not legal to carry a gun in public, and during most of that time, it was not even legal to keep one in your home. Yet in many of those years, Chicago led the nation in murders. In 2012, Chicago led the nation with 506 murders. Chicago had 6,511 murders from 2001 to 2013, according to the City of Chicago Police department (which reported homicides 2001 through 2011), the New York Times (which reported murders for 2012) and CBS, Chicago (which reported murders for 2013).

Compared to theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, strict gun control Chicago was a far more deadly place. There were 2,301 U.S. casualties in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2013. Iraq was a more deadly than Afghanistan even though the war in Iraq started two years later. There were 4,486 U.S. casualties in Iraq from 2003 to 2013. Chicago had 5,188 homicides in the same time period. Chicago’s murder total is only surpassed by the grand total of casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan combined, and even then just barely: 326 deaths, or 4.7%, of all casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In perspective, that’s the entire nations of Afghanistan and Iraq – war zones – compared to just one U.S. city with some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation.

Some may object that this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. It’s not meant to be. No attempt is made in this article at a per capita comparison because a per capita comparison is not the measure we are seeking. Before looking at the actual data, it’s seems obvious that a  peacetime city is expected to have less deaths than war-zones. But rather than apples-to-apples, this is a sewer-to-household comparison; you expect the sewer to be gross and nasty, so it’s quite a shock to discover that the household is worse. Similarly, we expect war zones to be deadly, but under the pro-gun control narrative, a strict gun control place is expected to to non-deadly.

It’s interesting what the data says about the pro-gun control narrative. Chicago, one U.S. city, not a war-zone, and under some of the strictest gun control laws in the U.S. during these years, witnessed more death. It’s counter-intuitive and it runs very counter to the gun control narrative. If the pro-gun control narrative were valid – if strict gun control laws actually reduced crime, and homicides in particular – then we should expect to see Chicago as one of the safest places to be on Earth. Instead, the data shows that it was more dangerous than either of the war zone nations, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Further consider that Chicago’s homicide rate decreased in 2014 following the passage of the concealed carry law, exactly opposite of what gun control advocates predicted. This data also runs counter to the pro-gun control narrative “more guns equals more death”. But the data is consistent with academic studies and the CDC that report that lawful gun carry is a deterrent to crime, and reduces injury to potential victims and saves lives.

Restrictive gun control laws are often billed as “common sense” initiatives. But the effects of restrictive gun control laws prove to be anything but common sense. Gun control laws only have effect, in practice, with the law-abiding, and notoriously have no effect on gangs, drug dealers and other criminals. These laws, ostensibly meant to provide safety, produce little-to-no actual result in increased safety, and utterly fail to address underlying causes of violence. If we are serious about addressing the problem of violence in our nation, we must reject the overly-simplistic pro-gun control narrative and look at the underlying causal factors that lead to violence, such as gangs, drug abuse, and poverty. Gangs account for an average of nearly half of all violent crime in America (up to 90% in some jurisdictions), according to the FBI. Drug abuse is the single greatest predictor of violence, with  or without mental illness, according to the psychiatry chair at Wright State University. Poverty is a major element of socio-cultural and economic factors that criminologists say are the most significant predictors for crime. Rather than succumbing to overly simplistic, and outright wrong, catch-phrases like “more guns, more crime”, we ought to be taking a genuine look at real solutions to reducing crime and homicide by understanding the underlying causes and learning how to address them at the source.


Are Australia’s Gun Control Laws Responsible for the Sydney Seige?

Are Australia’s Gun Control Laws Responsible for the Sydney Seige?

Despite having some of the strongest gun laws in the world, a radical Muslim terrorist with a “mile long” rap sheet was able to hold hostages at gunpoint for over 16 hours in Australia. Are Australia’s gun control laws, which prevented ordinary, law-abiding citizens the ability to carry guns for their own self-defense, responsible for the siege?

The whole world watched as a radicalized Muslim terrorist held 17 people hostage for over 16 hours in a Lindt Cafe in Sydney, Australia. Australia has very restrictive gun control laws, following reforms in 1996 in the wake of the Port Arthur Massacre – some of the toughest in the world. Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and pump-action shotguns are banned and Australian citizens must prove they need a gun in order to obtain a gun license. The terrorist gunman possessed a sawed-off shotgun. Since the siege began, major news networks and social media have been abuzz about Australia’s gun control laws and what factor they may or may not have played in leading up to the siege. Are Australia’s gun control laws, which prevented ordinary, law-abiding citizens the ability to carry guns for their own self-defense, responsible for the siege?

In 1996 Australia adopted strigent gun reforms, greatly restricting legal gun ownership, and spending $500 million AUD to ‘buyback’ guns in an effort to get them “off the street”. However, in the years since, Australian criminologists have found that the gun reforms and buyback did not reduce crime. Dr. Don Weatherburn, head of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, who was originally in favor of the reforms, stated that the 1996 legislation had had little to no effect on violence, noting that though the homicide rate have fallen, the rate of decline has been steady, and began before the 1996 reforms. Dr. Weatherburn stated “I would need to see more convincing evidence than there is to be able to say that gun laws have had any effect.” New South Wales is the province where the siege took place.

Dr. Weatherburn is not alone in his conclusion that Australia’s gun reforms have had no effect in reducing crime. Several studies by Australian researchers also concluded the reforms had no effect; Reuter and Mouzos in 2003 , McPhedran and Baker in 2006, and Lee and Suardi in 2009 found no evidence the gun reforms caused a decline in rates for gun crimes or homicides.

In fact, just the opposite of reducing crime, violent crime has risen in several categories. By 2008, there had been an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults. The Australia Institute of Criminology (AIC) data shows that Australia has more violent crime per 100,000 people than the U.S. or Canada. Australia’s violent crime rate is only outpaced by the UK, whose violent crime rate has skyrocketed since their late-90′s gun ban. Professor Mason of George Washington University states: “What to conclude? Strict gun laws in [Great Britain and] Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer.”

Australia’s strict gun control laws did not prevent the radicalized Muslim terrorist who initiated the siege from illegally obtaining a firearm, despite the fact that he had a “mile long” rap sheet. Australian authorities report guns are illegally smuggled into the country and sold on the black market. In the New South Wales province alone, where the siege took place, police seized nearly 7,000 illegal firearms in 2011. Police broke up a crime ring that was shipping guns to a Sydney post office. Officials said they had “broken a major supply route of guns into Australia”. Illegal arms dealers have also supplied criminals with Uzi’s, M16′s and M25 sniper rifles. Most guns stolen from licensed lawful gun owners are rifles, but most crimes are committed with handguns, “which leads police to conclude they’re coming from overseas”.

While it may be overly simplistic to state Australia’s gun control laws caused the siege, they didn’t do anything to prevent it. Further, they did prevent the victims from legally possessing the means to defend themselves. Two people died in the siege, including Tori Johnson, who died trying to wrestle the gun away from the terrorist.

Contrast this to the United States, where the CDC says there are a minimum of 500,000 (as many as 3 million) lawful defensive gun uses annually by ordinary, law-abiding citizens. World’s away from the Lindt Cafe in Sydney, Australia is the Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colorado, where the restaurant staff and many customers openly carry guns as a matter of everyday routine. It’s difficult to imagine someone picking a place like Shooters Grill as their location of choice to attempt taking hostages. Experts note that gunmen often choose “soft targets” like the shopping area where the Lindt Cafe was located over targets that have more security.

According to the CDC, lawful gun carrying is a deterrent to crime, reduces injury in potential victims, and saves lives. Perhaps not coincidentally this is why over 90% law enforcement in the U.S. supports lawful gun carrying by ordinary citizens; they know bad people are less likely to attempt crime, when ordinary people can shoot back. This is the crux of the gun debate (such that it exists): one side wants us to believe that if we just pass one more new gun law – regardless of whether law enforcement supports it or not – that we will all be safer. However, research shows quite the opposite; far from making people safer (which Australia’s gun laws did not), the CDC research shows it has the consequence of making people far less safe.


This article was originally published on TavernKeepers. Original publish date Dec 19, 2014. Original author, Matt MacBradaigh.

Gun Buyback Programs: Proven Futility and Failure in Australia and the United States

Gun Buyback Programs: Proven Futility and Failure in Australia and the United States

Gun buyback programs are seeing renewed discussion in many American cities in part because gun buybacks may seem like an intuitive way to reduce crime, by reducing the number of ‘guns on the streets.’  The research, however, clearly demonstrates that gun buybacks are a waste of tax dollars and an utter failure in terms of making people any safer.

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, dozens of cities re-launched gun “buyback” programs. President Obama has also called for Australia-style nationwide gun buybacks.

The theoretical premise behind gun buyback programs is that the program will lead to fewer guns on the streets because fewer guns are available for either theft or trade, and that consequently violence will decline. However, criminologists say buybacks have no impact on gun crime or gun-related injuries and that the programs do not target the guns most likely to be used in violence.

A gun buyback in Seattle, for example, showed no statistically significant change in gun-related homicides afterwards. Similarly, a 2002 study in Milwaukee found that handguns sold back to local police didn’t fit the profile of handguns used in homicides. Even Garen Wintemute, director of the injury-prevention center at the University of California, Davis who believes gun buybacks have ‘intangible’ value concedes “[gun buybacks] never will reduce rates of violent crime.”

The National Research Council (NRC) found “theory underlying gun buyback programs is badly flawed and the empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs.”

The study cited three reasons that buybacks are not effective: First, guns obtained through buybacks are the least likely to be used in criminal activities. Guns turned in tend to be of two categories: old, malfunctioning guns whose resale value is less than the reward offered in buyback programs, or guns owned by individuals who derive little value from the possession of the guns (for example, those who have inherited old guns).

Additionally, gun buybacks attract people who are unlikely to commit crimes in the first place, and more importantly, are extremely unlikely to entice criminals to sell their weapons. The NRC states “those who are either using guns to carry out crimes or as protection in the course of engaging in other illegal activities, such as drug selling, have actively acquired their guns and are unlikely to want to participate in such programs.” Bottom line: these aren’t the guns ‘on the street’ in the first place.

Second, the number of guns “on the street” typically does not decline. This is because replacement guns are relatively easy to obtain, therefore, the actual decline in the number of guns on the street may be smaller than the number of guns that are turned in. Bottom line: guns sold in the hopes they won’t end up on the street are easily replaced via other sources.

Third, the likelihood that any particular gun will be used in a crime in a given year is low. There were 8,855 total firearm homicides in the United States in 2012, but perhaps 380 million firearms. Congressional Research Service estimated 310 million firearms in 2009, but that estimate is now low. There have been over 71 million NICS checks (the background check required for all retail gun sales) from 2010 through 2013. The FBI cautions there is not necessarily a one-to-one ratio between a check and a firearm sale. There are two reasons for this: one, a check may be denied. Although historically, most denials are false positives, resulting in only 0.6% of all NICS checks ultimately denied (roughly 1.1 million denials out of 191 million checks from 1998 through May, 2014). The second reason is that more than one firearm may be purchased at the same time which would only generate one NICS check for the entire transaction.

Thus, there may be upwards of 380 million firearms in the United States. The NRC notes that even if a different firearm were used in each homicide, the likelihood that a particular gun would be used to kill an individual in a particular year is extremely small. The typical gun buyback program yields less than 1,000 guns.

The NRC states “In light of the weakness in the theory underlying gun buybacks, it is not surprising that research evaluations of U.S. efforts have consistently failed to document any link between such programs and reductions in gun violence (Callahan et al., 1994; Police Executive Research Forum, 1996; Rosenfeld, 1996).”

How have larger scale gun buybacks fared? In 1996 the Australian government banned a significant number of firearms and held a mandatory nationwide gun buyback. The buyback resulted in the destruction of 643,726 firearms at a cost of $500 million AUD.

Just as in smaller scale buybacks in the United States, research suggests the Australian buyback was a waste of public money that made little difference in gun-related death rates. Weapons subject to the buyback in Australia accounted for a modest share of all homicides or violent crimes prior to the buyback. Numerous academics found the same results. In 2003, Reuter and Mouzos were unable to find evidence of a substantial decline in rates for gun crimes.

In 2005, Dr. Don Weatherburn, the head of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, stated that the 1996 legislation had had little to no effect on violence. He noted that though the homicide rate had fallen, the rate of decline had been steady, and began before the 1996 reforms. Dr. Weatherburn stated “I would need to see more convincing evidence than there is to be able to say that gun laws have had any effect.”

In 2006, a study published in the British Journal of Criminology by McPhedran and Baker found that the gun buyback and associated gun control laws had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia, and the buyback and other reforms could not be shown to alter rates of suicide or homicide. They conclude the lack of effect from either the massive buyback has significant implications for public policy – not only in Australia, but internationally. They stated “It is tempting to equate strict firearmm legislation with effective firearm legislation. [But] if policy is to be truly effective, it must have clearly defined outcomes and it must be able to bring about those outcomes,” adding, “There is insufficient evidence to support the simple premise that reducing the stockpile of civilian firearms will result in a reduction in either firearm or overall sudden death rates.” McPhedran, stated in a Time magazine interview, “looking purely at the statistics, the answer is there in black and white. The hypothesis that the removal of a large number of firearms owned by civilians [would lead to fewer gun-related deaths] is not borne out by the evidence.”

A 2009 study by Lee and Suardi, of the Melbourne Institute at The University of Melbourne found the results of  Australian buybacks “did not have any large effects on reducing firearm homicide or suicide rates.” They stated “Although gun buybacks appear to be a logical and sensible policy that helps to placate the public’s fears, the evidence so far suggests that …gun buybacks have not translated into any tangible reductions in terms of firearm deaths.”

It should be noted that all the academics cited above came to the same conclusion, but two of them (McPhedran & Baker, 2006 and Lee & Suardi, 2009) were criticized by Harvard criminologist, David Hemenway. However, his criticisms were published in “Bulletins”, a one page equivalent of a press release – not in a peer-reviewed publication, like the British Journal of Criminology. The funding of Bulletins is through anti-gun, far left activist organization, the Joyce Foundation. Further Hemenway is the only criminologist to have his research openly mocked in a U.S. Court of Appeals decision. In this light, Hemenway’s non-peer reviewed criticisms stand in contrast with the majority of academics (which includes the head of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in Australia) whose conclusion is the buyback and other reforms had no measurable effect.

In total, there have been more than 1 million guns destroyed through 38 buybacks in Australia. But since 1996, more than 1 million firearms have been legally imported into Australia, eliminating the reduction achieved through the buybacks. Therefore the theoretical benefit of reducing the supply of guns has been eradicated through legal purchases.

More to point, these buybacks have not taken guns out of the hands of those most likely to commit crimes or prevented criminals from obtaining guns illegally. Though there is disagreement on the extent, guns are smuggled into Australia. In just the New South Wales province alone, police seized nearly 7,000 illegal firearms in 2011. Criminals were caught shipping guns from Germany to a Sydney post office. Police said they had “broken a major supply route of guns into Australia”. Police have also busted illegal arms dealers supplying criminals with Uzi’s, M16′s and M25 sniper rifles. Most guns stolen from licensed owners are rifles, but most crimes are committed with handguns, “which leads police to conclude they’re coming from overseas”.

The 1996 reforms required guns to be registered and owners licensed, proving they had a “genuine cause” to have a gun. However most firearm murders in Australia’s are done with illegal firearms, not legally registered firearms. According to Reuter and Mouzos’ 2003 study, only one gun homicide in the two years following the 1996 buyback and gun reforms used a registered gun. The Australia Institute of Criminology (AIC) report of the 2006-07 fiscal year stated that 93% of firearms involved in homicides were not registered and were used by unlicensed individuals.-This is strong evidence demonstrating that reducing supply in the general population does little to deter the criminal element from obtaining guns.

Besides producing no change on firearm homicide, the Australian gun reforms seem to have had unintended negative consequences. By 2008, there had been an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults. Violent crime as a whole has soared in Australia since the 1996 gun ban. AIC data shows that Australia has more violent crime per 100,000 people than the U.S. or Canada. Australia’s violent crime rate is only outpaced by the UK, whose violent crime rate has skyrocketed since their late-90′s gun ban. Professor Mason of George Washington University states: “What to conclude? Strict gun laws in [Great Britain and] Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer.”

Violent Crime Rates

Obama said he would “be willing to work with anyone to craft solutions” to our gun violence problem. Looking like you’re doing something is not the same thing as actually achieving a positive result. If the positive result we want to see in our society is less homicides and violent crime, then buybacks are empirically demonstrated to not be a solution. The best benefit cited by any proponent of buybacks is “intangible” benefit of getting the conversation of gun violence going. It would seem there are more cost-effective means of getting a public debate going than spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to do so. What we might focus on, is the underlying causes of violence: poverty, drug abuse, gangs, and mental illness. Getting at the root causes of violence would seem to have a better chance at producing positive results than what we already ready know will not produce results.


This article was originally published on The Bell Towers. Original publish date Jul 21, 2014. Original author, Matt MacBradaigh.

Reynolds High School Shooting Proves Two Things About Gun Control

Reynolds High School Shooting Proves Two Things About Gun Control

The recent Reynolds High School shooting in Troutdale, Oregon proves two things about gun control: good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns, and gun free zones do not prevent shootings.

Following the Reynolds High School shooting, the usual anti-gun rights activists, liberal politicians and mainstream media talking heads are regurgitating the same-old talking points they always do. However, there are two important points that we all should take away that will likely be missed: armed guards – armed “good guys” – do indeed stop shootings and save lives, and gun free zones do not stop shootings.

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the NRA advocated  the use of armed personnel, in whatever form any particular school district deemed appropriate – police, retired law enforcement, or armed faculty and staff. Liberals lost their collective minds over the suggestion, and the NRA was severely criticized  by liberals, mainstream media, and anti-gun organizations. However in practice, schools do just that, utilizing armed law enforcement on campuses across our nation. According to the Department of Justice, nearly 17,000 officers from almost half of police and one-third of sheriff departments serve as School Resource Officers (SROs) in roughly half of all schools. And since Newtown, some districts have also opted for school staff to be armed.

Like the school shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado last year that was stopped in “less than 80 seconds” because of the rapid response by the armed sheriff deputy officer stationed at that school, the shooting at Reynolds High school was stopped short by two armed SROs. In both incidents, only one student was murdered by the shooter; in both incidents the shooter, a student, committed suicide once pinned down by armed officers.

Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson said the shooter at Reynolds High School killed a fellow student in the locker room. He then shot and wounded a coach, Mr. Rispler, who fled and initiated the school’s lockdown procedure. Wearing a non-ballistic vest used for carrying ammunition and a multi-sport helmet, the shooter moved down the hallway where he encountered and exchanged gunfire with Troutdale Police officers, who were closing in on him from two separate hallways. He then moved into a separate, smaller bathroom where he took his own life.

The shooter was armed with an AR-15 rifle, along with nine magazines of ammunition, loaded with several hundred rounds (likely 270 rounds: nine magazines at 30 rounds capacity each). It is for this reason Anderson said the fast response by Troutdale Police school resource officers saved many lives:

I cannot emphasize enough the role that Mr. Rispler and the responding officers played in saving many, many lives. Given the weapons and amount of ammunition that the shooter was carrying, the early notification and the initial law enforcement response were critical.

Reynolds is the state’s second-largest high school with 2,800 students.

Though the loss of one life was tragic, it could have been much worse if not for the rapid response. Police said they had uncovered no connection between the murdered student and the shooter; it is unlikely that the shooter intended to kill only one student. Police at both Arapahoe and Reynolds schools emphasized the rapid response of armed officers stationed on-site. Police also emphasized school lockdown drills after both shootings. Armed good guys, it seems, do stop tragedies short and save lives.

The other takeaway that should be painfully obvious, is that gun free zone signs do not stop shootings. How many more concrete examples do we need before we recognize this obvious truth? Gun free zones are an utter failure as a policy to make people “more safe,” as they are intended. The Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Virginia Tech, Seattle Pacific University, Arapahoe High School, Columbine High School, Reynolds High School, Fort Hood, and the Washington Naval Yard shootings all took place in so-called “gun free zones.” Indeed every shooting in a so-called “gun free zone” further makes the case against gun free zones. Laws and signs do not self-enforce, which is why we have law enforcement officers. Perhaps is it time to stop advertising that our children’s schools (and movie theaters and military bases) are free-fire victim zones, and end gun free zones.


This article was originally published on Brenner Brief. Original publish date Jun 13, 2014. Original author, Matt MacBradaigh.

Liberals Exploit Bogus Mental Health Talking Points to Push Gun Control

Liberals Exploit Bogus Mental Health Talking Points to Push Gun Control

Liberals exploit bogus mental health talking points to push for gun control. Another school shooting, this time in Troutsdale, Oregon, where one student was fatally shot by another student, who later shot himself when pinned down by armed school guards. Another flare-up in the gun control debate and whether mental illness plays an important role in gun violence, and if so, to what extent? Mainstream media pundits and liberal politicians alike are, again, off the mark.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria wrote:

Every time there is a serious gun massacre in the United States — and alas, these are fairly common — the media focuses on the twisted psychology of the shooter and asks why we don’t pay more attention to detecting and treating mental illness… The question we should be really focused on is… why there are so many of them in America… America’s per capita gun homicide rate in 2009 was 12 times higher than the average of Canada, Germany, Australia and Spain. Does anyone think that we have 12 times as many psychologically troubled people as they do in these countries?

Likewise, President Obama also touched on mental illness in his remarks following the shooting, “The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people. It’s not the only country that has psychosis.”

There are several points in which both Mr. Zakaria and President Obama are wrong.

First, the word choice “massacre.” Massacre is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty.” One person, although tragic, is not “a number of” people.

Second, the word choice of “fairly common.” This would depend on whose information one bases their assessment. If one bases it on the list of 74 supposed “school shootings” since Newtown compiled by anti-gun rights activist and billionaire-funded group Moms Demand Action, then more than one per week sounds fairly common. The problem? The list is bogus according to analysis done by Politifact, who found they included incidents such as a 2013 Clarksville, Tennessee incident, where authorities were called to a high school parking lot at 2 a.m. and “found the body of a 38-year-old homicide victim with no links to the school.” CNN found the number of actual school shootings since Newtown to be just 15.

Third, the “gun homicide” rate is an arbitrary and misleading comparative to gauge countries’ overall homicide rate, since nations have differing gun laws. We would expect nations with restrictive gun laws to have less murder with a gun, but what about the murder rate overall? Do we feel better if people are murdered, just not with a gun? Of course not! A Harvard-published study of 36 European nations, which have stronger gun control than the U.S., found there is no link whatsoever between gun availability and the countries’ homicide rate. They note this is because guns (or any weapon type) don’t cause crime, socio-cultural and economic factors do. This is why in the U.S., the homicide rate in very restrictive gun controlled Chicago’s South side is so high (over 500 murders in 2012).

Fourth, there is a problem with putting the blame for all murders on “psychologically troubled people” or as President Obama put it, “crazy people.” Arguably, most or all mass murderers are psychologically troubled, but mass murder typically results in “less than 100 victims” out of nearly 13,000 murders reported annually by the FBI.

The overly simplistic statements that ‘the U.S. doesn’t have a monopoly on mentally disturbed people’ also utterly fail to conduct even a cursory examination of how other nations handle mental illness – like involuntary detainment for observation, for instance – compared to the United States. The killer in the Isla Vista Santa Barbara massacre was reported to authorities by family that was genuinely worried he was a danger to himself or others, and law enforcement met with him three separate times, but failed to detain him for observation, or to get a warrant to search his residence, where he kept a journal with detailed plans for his murder rampage. How might other nations handle a similar situation?

This amounts to yet another disingenuous, weak-sauce attempt by the left to subtly make the point that “it’s the guns.” The “reasoning,” if we deign to call it that, is obvious: “Gee, if the U.S. doesn’t have a monopoly on crazy people, but more gun murders, it must be the guns. We need gun control.”

This fails a basic fact that the left only seems to remember when it’s convenient, that correlation does not equal causation. Guns don’t cause crime, socio-cultural and economic factors do. Knowing this requires more thought than blindly accepting that “it’s the guns,” and that is what the left is counting on – that people are too stupid to critically think about their talking points.

As this author recently wrote, even if absolutely all legally owned civilian guns were banned and confiscated, we should expect little reduction in criminal activity. The Department of Justice states 80 percent of criminals obtain guns illegally, the FBI reports gangs traffic guns along with narcotics into the U.S., and criminologists find that 90 percent of adult murderers have adult criminal records with multiple contacts to the Justice system. In addition, the CDC says that law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves, reduce injury, save lives at least a half million to several million times annually, and that lawful carrying of a gun is a deterrent to crime. Therefore, besides very little to no reduction in criminal activity, we would also remove the lawful deterrent and expect to see an increase in crime, injury and lost lives.


This article was originally published on Brenner Brief. Original publish date Jun 12, 2014. Original author, Matt MacBradaigh.

Pin It on Pinterest