In the wake of the Parkland, FL shooting, the gun control debate is once again raging in our country. People who know next-to-nothing about guns or gun laws are demanding vague “gun control” measures be taken to prevent another shooting while ignoring the many laws that were in place that should have stopped the Parkland shooting.
Whenever gun control discussions rear their ugly head in our national conversation, gun-grabbing zealots on the left bring up Australia as an example.
In 2015, following the shooting at a community college in Oregon, Obama remarked publicly that he looked to countries like the UK and Australia for their laws that supposedly eliminated mass shootings:
“We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings,” he said. “Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.”
Over the last week, the mainstream media, who has been pushing the gun control narrative since before the bodies were even cleared from Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, has been praising Australia for another mass round-up of civilian-owned firearms and not-so-subtly suggesting that the United States should consider the same measure.
Although liberals have been looking to Australia’s restrictive gun laws as a beacon of hope in the war against gun violence, gun-rights activists in the US and even the UK and Australia say that not only would mirroring Australia’s gun laws be a poor choice for the US, they haven’t even worked to reduce murder in Australia to begin with.
Now more than ever, it is important to debunk the notion that Australia’s gun laws have been anything but ineffective towards deterring crime and were the US to imitate their policy, it would be disastrous.
To start with, it is important to consider what President Obama was implying by the suggestion that the US might model Australia’s gun laws. In Australia, the government didn’t simply tighten restriction on purchasing and owning firearms, they actually rounded up and confiscated weapons.
While it is most commonly understood that, in 1998, Australia implemented several new gun control measures including a highly successful gun buyback program, what most mainstream media outlets won’t tell you is that this included widespread gun confiscation.
“The crucial fact they omit is that the buyback program was mandatory. Australia’s vaunted gun buyback program was in fact a sweeping program of gun confiscation,” says Varad Mehta of the Federalist, noting the lack of mention to this simple fact in mainstream media outlets calling for similar gun control measures in the United States.
Mehta notes that while many politicians call for Australian-style gun control, what it would take to actually implement this kind of confiscation in the United States would be incredibly dramatic: “New York and Connecticut authorities so far have shown no inclination to enforce their laws by going door to door to round up unregistered guns and arrest their owners.
But that’s what would be necessary to enforce the law. A federal law, therefore, would require sweeping, national police action involving thousands of lawmen and affecting tens of millions of people. If proponents of gun control are serious about getting guns out of Americans’ hands, someone will have to take those guns out of Americans’ hands.”
To think that gun confiscation would work in the United States is both highly ignorant and also borderline psychotic. Is the American government really going to pry hundreds of millions of firearms out of hundreds of millions of cold, dead hands?
In a country like ours where the right to bear arms is not only deeply embedded in our national zeitgeist, it is a cornerstone in the foundation of our unique American liberties. We also happen to have hundreds of million gun owners.
Gun-control fanatics like to suggest, as you’re hearing constantly from the media right now as the character and morality of every gun owner in this nation is being questioned by a sickeningly biased media, is that we all know deep down we can stop gun violence but Americans simply love their guns too much. They also love to attribute the moral high ground in this regard to countries like Australia and the UK.
The problem is, as National Review contributor Charles Cooke pointed out following Obama’s 2015 comments, assuming that national gun confiscation would look anything like it did in Australia in 1998 would be an idiotic and fatal mistake:
“Contrary to the president’s implications, Britain and Australia are not “countries like ours” when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms; they are completely, utterly, extraordinarily different,” Cooke wrote. “When the British government banned handguns in 1997, there were fewer than half a million in circulation. Because there was almost no opposition, they were quickly collected up without fuss. Likewise, after the Australian government pushed through its ban in 1998, federal officials easily confiscated around 650,000 guns — between one third and one quarter of the total.”
Cooke continues: “At present, there are around 350 million guns in circulation in the United States — more than one for every person living here — and the American people enjoy constitutional protection of their right to keep and bear them. If the American government did what Australia did in 1998, they would bring in about 100 million guns but leave between 200 to 250 million on the streets (about as many as there were in total in 1994). This, obviously would be rather pointless. More important, perhaps, such a move would lead to massive unrest, widespread civil disobedience, and possibly even a war.”
This is truer still today, as the nation’s hundreds of millions of gun owners have no interest in turning in their guns and large swathes of Middle America are tight knit communities that are armed to the teeth, while the people who want to take all the guns typically have none (other than the government, of course.)
Gun-control zealots who know nothing about firearms have absolutely no idea how much more gun violence there would be were you try to take weapons from millions of people who know darn well they have a God-given, natural right to bear them.
In a recent op-ed for the New York Times, Australian writer A. Odysseus Patrick explained that what made such extreme gun measures possible in Australia is they simply don’t have the deeply embedded cultural regard for the importance of bearing firearms. “We Australians have a profoundly different relationship with weapons,” he says. “Americans love guns. We’re scared of them.”
He continues to explain that Australians have no concept of firearms as an important part of their national identity, and I will note that they also clearly have no concept of firearms as an important part of national liberty, either.
Mehta shares Patrick’s views, noting “The crucial point is the final one: Australia does not have a bill of rights, and that, ultimately, is the reason it was able to confiscate guns. Australians have no constitutional right to bear arms, so seizing their weapons did not violate their constitutional rights. Gun confiscation in the United States would require violating not only the Second Amendment, but the fourth and fifth as well, and possibly even the first. Progressives generally have no compunction about breaching the Second Amendment, but one wonders how many others they would be eager to violate in their quest to nullify the second. Civil war and a tattered Constitution: such are the consequences of invoking “Australia.” It is not a model; it is a mirage.”
This explains why so many Australians adapt an attitude of scorn towards America’s love-affair with guns; they simply never had to fight for their own independence they way America did. Americans fought, bleed, and died, using firearms, for our liberty from the crown; Aussies still have Her Majesty on their money. We understand how important it is to maintain freedom from tyranny to have an armed populace; Australians are perfectly comfortable giving their security over to the government.
This just stands to further underscore how important the Second Amendment is to securing our liberty. Without a national identity of self-reliance and self-defense, Australians gladly gave up their rights to self-defense without much of a fight. If you were to try to take this right from Americans, it would get bloody.
Regardless of this grim prospect, even if Americans were happily willing to part with their Second Amendment rights and lawfully turned in their weapons the way Australians did, there is the glaring problem with Australian gun control that it didn’t actually work.
As the Daily Wire points out, multiple studies have indicated the gun control measures taken in Australia made an insignificant impact on crime:
A 2007 British Journal of Criminology study and a 2008 University of Melbourne study concluded that Australia’s temporary gun ban had no effect on the gun homicide rate. Crime Research Prevention Center president John Lott had similar findings.
“Prior to 1996, there was already a clear downward [trend] in firearm homicides, and this pattern continued after the buyback,” wrote Lott. “It is hence difficult to link the decline to the buyback.”
“Again, as with suicides, both non-firearm and firearm homicides fell by similar amounts,” Lott continued. “In fact, the trend in non-firearms homicides shows a much larger decline between the pre- and post-buyback periods. This suggests that crime has been falling for other reasons. Note that the change in homicides doesn’t follow the change in gun ownership – there is no increase in homicides as gun ownership gradually increased.”
The 2007 study found the same trend, as National Review’s Mark Antonio Wright notes:
The Australian gun-homicide rate had already been quite low and had been steadily falling in the 15 years prior to the Port Arthur massacre. And while the mandatory buyback program did appear to reduce the rate of accidental firearm deaths, Baker and McPhedran found that “the gun buy-back and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia.”
This pattern is also mirrored in suicide rates, which is significant because in the United States currently, suicide accounts for the most gun deaths annually. “While [studies] show a steady decline in gun-related suicides, the reduction occurred at the same time as an overall reduction in the Australian suicide rate. What’s more, firearm-related suicides had been declining in Australia for nearly ten years before the 1996 restrictions on gun ownership,” Wright points out.
“Moreover, a look at other developed countries with very strict gun-control laws (such as Japan and South Korea) shows that the lack of guns does not lead to a reduced suicide rate. Unfortunately, people who want to kill themselves often find a way to do so — guns or no guns,” he adds.
Not only is the suggestion that the United States emulate the 1998 gun grabbing measures of Australia insanely stupid, it’s just plain insane. Not only would such measures be bloody and violent, they fundamentally undermine everything it means to be an American.
Liberals love the unique liberties and the founding philosophy of our country, but they have lost sight of the spirit that secured it for them in 1776. Our country was founded on the principle that no one but God need recognize the natural rights we have to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
If we fail to acknowledge that the right to life includes the right to defend our lives would strike at the very core of our American liberty.
We shouldn’t try to be like Australia in any way because we are not Australia. We are the United States, the greatest and most unique country in existence. The right to bear arms is one of the most important pillars this vision of liberty stands on.
Let Australia worry about their own guns–in America, we will defend our right to bear our guns if it kills us.
Does America really want to go down that path?