Australia Passes the National Firearms Agreement and Buyback Program, a Poor Model for Gun Control Advocates

The National Firearms Agreement (NFA), also sometimes called the National Agreement on Firearms, the National Firearms Agreement and Buyback Program, or the Nationwide Agreement on Firearms, was a firearm control law passed in Australia in 1996, in response to the Port Arthur massacre that killed 35 people. The laws to give effect to the Agreement were passed by Australian State governments only 12 days after the Port Arthur massacre.

The NFA placed tight control on semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons, although permitted their use by licensed individuals who required them for a purpose other than ‘personal protection’. The act included a gun buy-back provision.

Negotiation and implementation of the Agreement was originally coordinated in 1996 by then-Prime Minister of Australia John Howard. Since then the Agreement has continued to have support from both Labor and Coalition Federal Governments. The Australian Police Ministers Council (APMC), comprising state and federal police ministers, meets at least every six months at which issues including the NFA are discussed. Changes to the NFA require the unanimous agreement of all governments. At a meeting on 21 October 2016 it was agreed to hold a firearm amnesty by mid-2017. (Wikipedia)

Now Australia didn’t have a complete ban on guns, they didn’t even ban all semi-automatic guns. The initial buyback reduced the amount of guns over the first couple of years from about 3.2 million to 2.2 million actual guns – as many Australians did not abide by the government provision, however the number of people who owned guns increased from 1.2 million Australian adults in 1997 to 1.97 million in 2015.  At the same time, the number of guns increased even more from 2.2 to 5.8 million.  Both of these were much greater than the increase in the population from 18.52 to 23.79 million.

Though many will claim that suicide rates have fallen since the gun ban, John Lott points out that suicide rates were actually falling at the same rate prior to the gun ban so it would be erroneous to credit the gun ban for the continued drop in the suicide rates. If there was a correlation, there would have been an initial drop as the amount of guns dropped and then a spike as the amount of new guns flooded the market. This did not occur. Non-firearm suicides fell by the same amount, thus confirming his point.

Likewise, murder rates were also falling prior to the gun ban and continued to decline. There was no immediate drop as with the number of guns following the ban, nor a steady increase as the number of new guns increased at a high rate. Also, armed and unarmed robbery rates go the exact opposite of the way gun control advocates claim it should with the amount of guns available. Armed robberies actually spike then decrease as gun numbers increase.

The audio of John Lott’s testimony (from the Crime Prevention Research Center) on gun control before the Australian Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee below:

A discussion on the changes in their crime rates from their gun buyback is available here (see also here).

(BearingArms.com) The Australian government has begrudging and indirectly admitted the failure of their strict gun control laws, which included a gun buyback scheme that has been ignored by hundreds of thousands of citizens.

In a desperate attempt to get guns out of the hands of citizens who refuse to give them up, the Justice Minister has lamely offered an amnesty that amounts to whining, “won’t you please hand over your liberty?”

Australia on Friday announced a gun amnesty for next year after a criminal intelligence report estimated there were 260,000 illegal firearms in the country.

Australia introduced tight curbs on gun ownership after the massacre of 35 people by a lone gunman in and around a cafe at a former prison colony in Tasmania in 1996.

The country has had no mass shootings since and has been held up by many abroad as an example of the need for tight controls.

The amnesty comes amid a debate over gun laws that has opened up a rift in the ruling Liberal Party, pitting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull against the man he overthrew ahead of a key party gathering this weekend.

“The amnesty will provide an opportunity for those individuals who, for whatever reason are in possession of an unregistered firearm, to hand it in without fear of being prosecuted,” Justice Minister Michael Keenan told reporters in Melbourne.

“While Australia has some of the strongest firearm controls in the world, illicit firearms remain the weapon of choice for criminals.”

While forced buybacks under the threat of prosecution for failure to turn in firearms are favored by Liberals in Australia and radical progressive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the United States, the fact of the matter is that most people have simply chosen to ignore the law, as it violates the core human right to armed self-defense.

All the law has done in Australia is to turn otherwise law-abiding but non-compliant citizens into criminals in the eyes of the law, while having very little effect on crime at all.

The study doesn’t conclude that “murders and suicides plummeted” in Australia after the 1996 gun ban, as Vox claims in its headline. Instead, it focuses solely on firearm-related murders and suicides. In that category they found a marked decline (although, interestingly, it still makes up nearly 20 percent of all homicides nearly two decades after most guns were banned by the island nation).

But at the same time Australia was banning guns and experiencing a decline in gun homicides, America was more than doubling how many firearms it manufactured and seeing a nearly identical drop in gun homicides. That throws a bit of a wrench into the idea that Australia’s gun ban must be the reason for its decline in gun crime.

However, what’s more important is the fact that overall suicides and murder have not “plummeted” in the years after the gun ban. Yes, as with the gun-happy United States, the murder rate is down in Australia. It’s dropped 31 percent from a rate of 1.6 per 100,000 people in 1994 to 1.1 per 100,000 in 2012.But it’s the only serious crime that saw a consistent decline post-ban.

In fact, according to the Australian government’s own statistics, a number of serious crimes peaked in the years after the ban. Manslaughter, sexual assault, kidnapping, armed robbery, and unarmed robbery all saw peaks in the years following the ban, and most remain near or above pre-ban rates. The effects of the 1996 ban on violent crime are, frankly, unimpressive at best.

Violence Declined Stateside Without A Gun Ban

It’s even less impressive when again compared to America’s decrease in violent crime over the same period. According to data from the U.S. Justice Department, violent crime fell nearly 72 percent between 1993 and 2011. Again, this happened as guns were being manufactured and purchased at an ever-increasing rate.

While Australians kill themselves with firearms less often, it seems they don’t actually take their own lives any less often.

The Australian gun ban’s effect on suicide in the country isn’t any better. While Vox repeats the Harvard study’s claim that firearm-related suicides are down 57 percent in the aftermath of the ban, Lifeline Australia reports that overall suicides are at a ten-year high. The Australian suicide prevention organization claims suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians 15 to 44 years old. So, while Australians kill themselves with firearms less often, it seems they don’t actually take their own lives any less often than before the ban.

Whatever you think of the merits of Australia’s gun ban or the practicality of using it as a model for American gun control, it most certainly has not caused suicide or murder rates to plummet. Furthermore, Australia has seen violent crimes peak in the years following its ban while the United States experienced the exact opposite phenomenon.

Australia isn’t much of a model for Australia, let alone for America. (thefederalist.com)

By the way, reporters love to claim that there have been “no mass shootings” in Australia since their restrictive gun law went into effect in 1996, but that simply isn’t true.

At Monash, seven people were shot (two fatally) by a murderous student who was armed with multiple handguns. All six handguns were acquired legally.  The attacker was later determined to be mentally ill. The Hectorville siege that saw seven people shot (three fatally) was conducted with a shotgun that was legal under Australian law. The attacker in this incident was also found to be mentally ill. The Hunt family murders were likewise carried out with a legally-owned shotgun. The murderer in this instance was thought to be highly stressed due to his wife’s head injury.

Laws are nothing more or less than an agreement by the citizenry that they will abide by certain guidelines in order for a civil society to work. The paradox of laws is that the more there are, and the more restrictive they are, the less likely even good people are to follow them. Once laws rise to a certain level of absurdity, then the legitimacy of the government itself falls into question, and good people begin ignoring government edicts nearly as much as criminals do.

It is at this point where governments and constitutions fall.

Australians are engaging in so-called “Irish Democracy” by ignoring an absurdly restrictive gun law, and instead of having a regulated arms trade as there is in the United States, their 20-year experiment has had the effect of moving the personal firearms market underground without significant impacting demand or for that matter, supply.

There are more than a quarter million “illegal” firearms in Australia, despite the government’s attempt to ban them, and despite the fact that Australians lack the “gun culture” found in many other nations.

Gun control and democracy cannot coexist.

Free peoples want to be armed.

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