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Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard wrote a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday on Australia’s experience with gun control.  Howard was a quite conservative prime minister for nearly twelve years and was close to former President Bush while in office.  It was some surprise then, as he recounts, when he gave a speech to a conservative American audience in 2008 and in answer to a question on what were his proudest moments in office, responded that it was the national gun control laws he passed in 1996.

Having applauded my references to the liberation of East Timor, leaving Australia debt free, presiding over a large reduction in unemployment and standing beside the US in the global fight against terrorism, there was an audible gasp of amazement at my expressing pride in what Australia had done to limit the use of guns.

In April 1996 the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania left 35 dead, the result of a lone, heavily armed gunman who had obtained all his weaponry legally.  Within weeks the Howard government put in place measures to ban the sale, importation and possession of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, and a buy-back scheme that pulled in close to 700,000 weapons.

John Howard lays out the result:

Research published in 2010 in the American Journal of Law and Economics found that firearm homicides, in Australia, dropped 59 per cent between 1995 and 2006. There was no offsetting increase in non-firearm-related murders. Researchers at Harvard University in 2011 revealed that in the 18 years prior to the 1996 Australian laws, there were 13 gun massacres (four or more fatalities) in Australia, resulting in 102 deaths. There have been none in that category since the Port Arthur laws.
If you’re looking for a case study of whether gun control works, this would appear to be it.

I'll give Howard the last words:

The US is a country for which I have much affection. There are many American traits which we Australians could well emulate to our great benefit. But when it comes to guns we have been right to take a radically different path.
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Comment Preferences

  •  What, exactly... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas, VectorScalar

    ...is the wording in the Australian Second Amendment?


    Time travel opportunity. Must bring your own weapons. Your safety is not guaranteed, I've only done this once before. Call 866.555.1212.

    by IndieGuy on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 03:15:23 PM PDT

  •  Murder is not the only consideration (0+ / 0-)

    Are there any statistics concerning an increase in home invasions since 1996?

  •  Australia isn't entirely relevant. (3+ / 0-)

    According to the cia world factbook:

    Australia: white 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%
    USA: white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate)
    note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Spanish, and Central or South American origin living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic
    Yeah, that's comparable. Not.
    Australia population below the poverty line:
    NA%
    US population below the poverty line:
    15.1% (2010 est.)
    Yeah, like THAT doesn't have an effect. HA!
    Australia, taxes and other revenues:
    31.8% of GDP (2011 est.)
    US, taxes and other revenues:
    15.3% of GDP
    note: excludes contributions for social security and other programs; if social contributions were added, taxes and other revenues would amount to approximately 22% of GDP (2011 est.)
    How many more fundamental discrepancies must be mentioned before people quit blaming our problems on objects, and start laying the blame on the self-centered conservatives that fuck up our government so much more than is done in many other places?

    How many?

    Ciao.

    •  NA is not zero. And why is the racial (6+ / 0-)

      composition of the country relevant?

      •  Racism. nt (0+ / 0-)

        Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

        by KVoimakas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:07:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bunk. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          john07801

          So, the vastly higher rates of gun violence in the US is due largely to racially motivated crimes?  

          Bunk.

          Mitt Romney treats people like things. And he treats things - corporations - like people.

          by richardak on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:29:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not quite what I meant. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Canis Aureus

            Social safety nets are seen by many in this country as primarily being to the benefit of those who are not white. We can't have that. We can't have them educating themselves either. So we have a decided lack of social safety nets because they're being used by those-who-don't-look-like-us and you know those inner city kids? Well, they're mostly non-white so fuck 'em. They don't need no education.

            (Do I really have to say I'm pretending to be a Republican here or can I safely assume people know that's not really my opinion?)

            So what we have isn't racially motivated murder but racially motivated "fuck those people!" The side effects of which we're feeling today.

            Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

            by KVoimakas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:48:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  There was that diary the other day (0+ / 0-)

            where the guy told the cops "I shot me a n****r" without thinking there was anything that could possibly be wrong with that.

            I do believe that racism creates socioeconomic stressors through bigotry and discrimination and selective punishment, and those stressors then result in more violence in general.... of which some portion of that violence is in the "gun" segment of the pie.

      •  If you read all those statistics (0+ / 0-)

        you fell for the ruse.

        No gun-proponent wants to discuss guns and gun violence.  They want to discuss ANYTHING ELSE.

        Only weak men fear strong women

        by john07801 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:16:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I love discussing firearms. (0+ / 0-)

          It's one of my jobs and one of my hobbies.

          Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

          by KVoimakas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:27:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "only" and "only" n/t (0+ / 0-)

            Only weak men fear strong women

            by john07801 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:40:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What? nt (0+ / 0-)

              Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

              by KVoimakas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:43:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you for your question (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KVoimakas

                But the tactics of DKBA is counter-helpful and demand hard-assed responses.  To me, your only job and your only hobby is guns.  The obsession of the RKBA is anathema to any understanding and resolution to the blood bath in our country.

                I appreciate your question, however minimal, regarding my position.

                There need to be a dialogue.  But, within moments of this diary being posted, four very unhelpful posts (RKBA) shattered the discussion in favor of sidetracking the issue.  That's not the way to go, I believe.

                I'm trusting that your post is honest because I haven't forgotten how you rec'd my diary about my adopted Mexican son.  Knowing your gun stance and our differences, that meant a lot to me.

                Let's talk (even offline).

                Only weak men fear strong women

                by john07801 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:35:45 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm actually a computer tech. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  john07801

                  But I'm also a firearm instructor.

                  The obsession of the RKBA is anathema to any understanding and resolution to the blood bath in our country.
                  I'm all for resolving violent crime. We have the same goal but have different ways to go about achieving it.

                  I recced for your last paragraph, even though I strongly disagree with you.

                  Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

                  by KVoimakas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:53:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Funny, I noticed this: (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Samulayo, KenBee
                  There need to be a dialogue.
                  --However, your idea of dialogue seems to be "Give in to every one of our demands; submit to collective punishment despite having broken no laws; allow unreasonable searches and seizures of your personal property while the rest of us denigrate you and imply that you are murderers and psychopaths. Then we can talk."

                  That, sir, is not "dialogue" by any stretch of the term.

                  •  Utter (0+ / 0-)

                    one statement that encompasses both sides of the issue, one that admits the danger of our lack of gun laws and the current carnage, and we have the beginnings of a dialogue.

                    But, if you do, you'll be thrown out of RKBA, right?

                    Only weak men fear strong women

                    by john07801 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 09:38:14 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Hardly. By all means you can (0+ / 0-)

                      look at my post history in such threads. But that would be harder than just churning out strawmen by the factory load.

                    •  You see, part of the issue is that some of us (0+ / 0-)

                      don't see the current laws we have as 'not enough' especially when they're not enforced as is right now. You want to have my support to build on what we have, you'll get it (strengthening NICS, more LEOs, etc).

                      Adding new laws that won't make a dent and just make certain people feel good because they did something aren't my idea of a good time.

                      Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

                      by KVoimakas on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 05:40:31 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  No, we only want to discuss (0+ / 0-)

          relevant information...

          ... you know, as opposed to "evil talisman" sidebars.

      •  Why is the racial information relevant? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KVoimakas

        I suppose it isn't; after all, it's not as if there were a political party that was devoted to exploiting racial divisions, and fear and distrust, and keeping some races permanently disadvantaged while others are held up as symbols of "American values".

        Totally
        irrelevant.

    •  How about Canada for comparison? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sky Net

      From the CIA Factbook the ethnic makeup of Canada is

      British Isles origin 28%,
      French origin 23%,
      other European 15%,
      Amerindian 2%,
      other, mostly Asian, African, Arab 6%,
      mixed background 26%
      which amounts to 67% white if that's what you're getting at. As you probably are aware Canada has a high rate of gun ownership and much lower rates of gun violence than the US. It's genuinely tiresome to continually see Americans reject valid international comparisons because some aspect of the other country doesn't exactly match the US experience.
      For example I've see Canadian comparisons rejected because the "type" of diversity is different - i.e. not so many "blacks". It's hard to know whether the decision to go on about the ethnic composition is an attempt to make a racist argument - but I'll consider the ethnic mix as essentially irrelevant.

      What's happened in the US is the poisonous result of deeply rooted racism and utter disregard for poverty and marginalisation. The US has no good excuse for being as dysfunctional as it is compared to its northern neighbor - and its not just about Republicans. Any Democrat who is OK with the "three strikes" laws in any state can hang their head in shame as far as I'm concerned.

      But all of this is to miss the point of the article entirely - the experiment in gun control was conducted within a given population and showed significant results. Aussies still have access to guns, just not those whose sole purpose is to kill lots of people. There is nothing in your comparative arguments that suggests a similar ban and buy back would not have comparable relative results in the US. It would still leave the US with the high rates of gun violence - just not as high as before.

      •  You forgot to include (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KVoimakas

        their taxes which fund a more functional government than we've got, their health system that helps keep their population in better shape than we've got, their education system which doesn't have the dead weight of people claiming that jesus rode the dinosaurs like we've got...

      •  Canada does not have a higher rate of firearm (0+ / 0-)

        ownership.

        And Australia doesn't have the NRA, Second Amendment, or RKBA support to the extent we have now (mostly on the GOP side but there's some [not enough] on the Democratic side).

        Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

        by KVoimakas on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 05:42:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Population of Australia: 22.6 million (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas

    Population density per square mile:  7

    Cities with over 1 million population: 5

    43rd largest city in Australia: Lismore, NSW (pop 33,000)

    The reason they have a song about tying a kangaroo down is because it takes a rather loud voice to gather in enough people to hold that sumbitch.

  •  I was living in Australia in the early 1980s. (6+ / 0-)

    A friend had gotten a job in the US. Just before he left he told me that he was worried about moving and asked me if he needed to get a gun. He was happy when I assured him that I had never owned a gun and had never felt the need for one.

    Guns and violence were a big part of Australia's 19th century history. Waltzing Matilda, Ned Kelly, and The Wild Colonial Boy all featured gun play between bushrangers and the coppers. There were also plenty of massacres of aborigines using guns.

    But then they grew up. They think that we are idiots.

  •  700k eh? (0+ / 0-)

    That would be less than 1/2 of 1% of the firearms in the US.

    Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

    by KVoimakas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:21:05 PM PDT

    •  700k automatic and semi-automatic weapons (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      john07801

      in a country with 7% of the population of the US.

      Mitt Romney treats people like things. And he treats things - corporations - like people.

      by richardak on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:37:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Automatic firearms are federally registered (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee

        and there hasn't been one used in the last few decades with one exception. And he was a police officer.

        So...they have 7% of the population but less than 1/2 of 1% of the firearms? Hell, projections are that there are over 140 million semi-auto firearms in the US. How many do you think would get turned in?

        Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

        by KVoimakas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 06:50:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the NRA doesn't seem to agree with you... (0+ / 0-)

          Semi-automatic firearms were introduced more than a century ago. They account for about 15 percent of the 250+ million privately-owned firearms in the United States.

          Adjust those numbers to Australia's population, and you'd get about 2.6 million.

          Of course, that's about four times more than were turned in down under, but considering the point being made in the diary is about a dramatic reduction in the rate of gun violence rather than absolute numbers, your statement is not entirely relevant.

          Do I expect Americans to turn in their semi-automatic weapons? Certainly not in the near future, but it is always refreshing to read about how at least some people in this world can come to their senses.

          And by way, where did I say or imply anything about fully automatic weapons in the US?

           

          Mitt Romney treats people like things. And he treats things - corporations - like people.

          by richardak on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:16:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  See the subject of your previous comment. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee

            Automatic and semi-automatic...

            And it wouldn't be the first time the NRA and I've disagreed. My understanding was that it was about 1/2 of the firearms but I've been wrong before.

            Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

            by KVoimakas on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 07:30:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  it's the implications in the 'what's to be done' (0+ / 0-)

            about the weapons not turned in that is the bigger question,,,and so far the only answers have been to suspend most law and court rulings and constitutional protections...something quite a few people have had a lot to say on the matter over the years.

            Random stop and frisk and random home searches?

            have to be random otherwise poor people and therefore people of color will get more of the burden of that.

            Oh wait, they already have. For a long dam time.

            Oh, wait, I know, how about the police borrow the realtors Red Line maps, and put the crime dots on it, and only do random searches and stop and frisk in just those areas?

            I was struck by Denise Velez's remarks about her black relatives fending off the KKK with their own guns, without which they could well have been murdered and tortured.

            Say that will never happen again?

            We've evolved?

            All righty then!

            From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!...Langston Hughes

            by KenBee on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 12:18:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  A common mistake here also seems to be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee

    assuming that anyone who speaks up for the RKBA is automatically in lock-step with the NRA, too. How odd.

    What an overly simplistic, black-and-white worldview that is. Are you sure Progressivism is really for you? 'Cause that's kinda like a "you're either with us, or against us" kind of mindset.

    •  Anyone who speaks for the RKBA (0+ / 0-)

      is automatically closed-mindedly opposed to rational gun-control laws, just like the NRA.

      The RKBA and the NRA are only different when their rhetoric demands it.  Neither has any concern for the gun proliferation in our streets or the carnage that ensues.  

      If it allows them to keep their guns (all of them), they like it.  Damn society's needs.

      Only weak men fear strong women

      by john07801 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 10:24:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anyone who speaks against the RKBA (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KVoimakas

        is automatically closed-mindedly opposed to rational gun-control laws, just like the NRA.

        See how that works?

        Blanket statements smeared around like that are sooooo helpful..so pat yourself on the back for speaking up to the mighty RKBA gun thugs at daily kos.

        I feel bullied.

        From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!...Langston Hughes

        by KenBee on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 12:09:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You realize you are only (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KVoimakas

        proving my point, right?

        From distortions to flat-out lies, no attempt to negotiate in good faith at all.

      •  Of course we're concerned about the carnage (0+ / 0-)

        and we're all for rational gun control laws.

        Now show me some.

        Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

        by KVoimakas on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 05:45:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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