Failure of Gun Control, an Australian Perspective

Failure of Gun Control, an Australian Perspective

January 08, 2016

Australia is not America.

Australia does not have a Bill of Rights, so the legislatures have more say than America’s over many issues of individual rights, and the courts have less control. Also, Australian’s have no constitutional right to bear arms. This is because the British granted Australia nationhood peacefully where as the United States had to fight for it and ratify its own Constitution with amendments to protect democracy and prevent tyranny and oppression.

In the early years of Australian colonization, Gun control was left up to each individual colony and after Federation, each state. The Commonwealth does not have constitutional authority over firearms but does control customs and defense related matters.

During the rise of Communism in the 1920’s, Australia imposed restrictions on handguns, which continued into the 40’ and 50’s thinking that it would limit the availability of handguns and military rifles ending up in the hands of communist radicals. Restrictions continued to be tightened throughout Australia up after WWII and following the rise of organized crime and underworld violence.

With the rise of urbanization in the 1980’s and the introduction of new values such as feminism, environmental awareness and media reports about so called ‘American gun violence’ created awareness in the Australian population of gun control as a potential issue.

Between 1984-1996 there are several mass killings in Australia that arose public concern. The 1984 Milparra Massacre involving rival OMG’s left 7 dead and 28 wounded, The 1987 Hoddle St massacre where Julian Knight shot and killed 7 wounding 19 and the Queen St massacre perpetrated by Frank Vitkovic where he killed 9 and wounded 5 others in an active shooter incident at the Australia Post building. In response to these shootings, several states required registration of ALL guns and restricted availability of semi automatic rifles and shotguns.

In 1991 in Strathfield, NSW, Wade Frankum shot and killed 8 and wounded 6 others during what was known as the Strathfield Massacre. Frankum initiated the attack with a hunting knife, stabbing a female sitting behind him in a café. After leaving the knife in the body, he retrieved a Chinese SKS rifle from a duffel bag and opened fire in the café killing 7. He then fled into the mall and killed his final victim. Frankum committed suicide shortly after a running gun battle with Police.

In 1996 in Port Aurthur, Tasmania a man with a history of violence and erratic behavior opened fire at a historic former convict prision where he killed 35 and wounded 23 others. The suspect Bryant was later taken into custody after a long standoff with police SWAT teams.

Directly after the Port Arthur shooting, the Prime Minister of Australia immediately forced all states to adopt a new gun law proposal under the National Firearms Agreement. This was necessary because the Australian Constitution does not give the Commonwealth power to enact gun laws. The proposals included a ban on all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and a tightly restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls.

The Australian Constitution requires compensation for any property taken by the Government, which spurred the 1996 Gun Buy Back Scheme or gun confiscation scheme. This was a compulsory and mandated scheme to remove all weapons from Citizens and their homes. The gun buy back took effect between the periods 01 Oct 1996- 30 Sept 1997. The Government bought back and destroyed nearly 1 million firearms, which was about one third to one fifth of Australian firearms.  A similar program was pitched by the Left after the Sandy Hook shooting and knowing that anything mandatory would not pass, the suggestion of gun buy back to stimulate the economy was put forward. Pay people for their guns so they can spend it on other things!

There have been several mass killings in Australia since those controls were introduced. The 1996 restrictions did not stop mass killings in Australia.

Notably, in 2002 at Monash University in Melbourne, 2 students were shot killed in a school shooting with pistols and the 2014 at the Lindt Chocolate café siege  Man Monis took 17 hostages and killed 1 before being shot an killed by members of the NSW TOU during the dramatic hostage rescue. Monis was armed with a shotgun obtained on the black market.

The Government also provided financial incentives for citizens to give up the shooting sports! Approximately 25% of pistol shooters took this option. There has been several Gun Amnesties since the introduction of the 1996 controls where nearly 70,000 handguns were handed in.

In response to the Lindt Chocolate café siege, the NSW Government tightened gun control further bringing in new laws and offenses for possession of stolen firearms. The Government also introduced measures to stop the use of 3D printers and milling machines from anyone without the appropriate license.

Historically, Australia has had low levels of violent crime. Overall levels of homicide and suicide have been on the decline for decades. Also, the proportion of these crimes perpetrated with a firearm has declined since the 1980’s.

As much as the Government reports how well these controls have worked over the years by releasing Government obtained data that fits their narrative, much of the decline of the violent use of firearms was declining naturally in Australia due to our way of life. 

In 2005 the head of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn,noted that the level of legal gun ownership in NSW increased in recent years, and that the 1996 legislation had had little to no effect on violence and later stated; “The fact is that the introduction of those laws did not result in any acceleration of the downward trend in gun homicide. It is always unpleasant to acknowledge facts that are inconsistent with your own point of view.”

Another report measured the incidence of mass shooting and compared Australia to New Zealand, which has far less restrictions on gun control. The report concluded that the rate of mass shootings did not decline with the introduction of gun control measures in 1996.

A 2013 report suggested in a conservative estimate that there are a total of 250,000 long guns and 10,000 handguns on the illicit grey or black markets in Australia. Criminals will always find a way to arm themselves with illegal weapons purchased on the black market or stolen weapons from theft and robberies.

The President has recently made some very serious statements referring to ‘the Australian model of gun control’ which all started by the Prime Minister at the time, John Howard executing his version of an executive order for all states to adopt gun control measures.

Gun laws in Australia has not eliminated mass shootings, they still occur and at the same approximate rate. Australia’s culture has changed over time as noted by the reduction of homicide and suicide since 1980, which is pre gun control.

Australia also has less than 1/10th the population of America and mass shootings will be less frequent in Counties with fewer people. A way to decrease gun violence in America might be to stop spending money on introducing new laws, enforce existing laws, and stop illegal immigration and violent criminals from entering into America. Prevent illegal weapons from moving through our ports and number of illegal weapons on the black market.

When Obama and the left say that we should respond to shootings as Australia did that does not mean background checks on private gun sales. That means that this is the first phase of mass gun control by the Government.

By taking away Citizens rights to own firearms plays into the narrative of what the left stands for and that is to take away the ability for citizens to think and operate without the need for Government.  The left wants to regulate and control everything, take a look at the Obama Care debacle. First it’s health care then it will be gun ownership.

Don’t allow Obama to leave his final legacy before he departs the White House. His legacy of instituting wide spread gun control measures to disarm our Citizens and prevent us from exercising our right to bear arms and the ability to protect our families and ourselves. By Obama praising Australia for its gun-laws, he is also advocating mass confiscation. It is up to all of us to do our part in protecting our second amendment rights. Stand up for what you believe in and voice your opinion because my right to bear arms as a Citizen of this great country shall not be infringed! 

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