Australia: The Effects Of Gun Control

posted on November 16, 2015

If you enjoyed our examination of what “Australia-style gun control” really entailed, and what the massive gun confiscation meant for crime rates in the country, we encourage you to check out the recent coverage in Australia’s New Daily newspaper about the country’s thriving black market for firearms. Let it be said first of all that we’re fairly certain the journalist behind this series, George Lekakis, isn’t a gun-rights advocate by any stretch of the imagination. Just last week he tried to drum up hysteria about the Adler A110 shotgun—a scary gun that can shoot seven rounds in seven seconds! That’s practically a viable home-defense firearm! 

Indeed, the author’s bias against guns makes the frightening information that he reveals that much more powerful. An initial report utilizes unpublished data on gun-related crimes at the state level. While the types of statistics available for each state differ, the combined picture is of a massive increase in gun trafficking and illegal use over the past decade. “Taken together, the data suggest that despite our tough anti-gun laws, thousands of weapons are either being stolen or entering the country illegally,” Lekakis concludes. 

While the article doesn’t provide any firm indications of which one of these methods is prevalent, there is no reason to think that Australian criminals differ greatly from their American counterparts. A survey of inmates at the Cook County Jail revealed that theft of firearms from law-abiding gun owners is not a major means of criminal acquisition. And this shouldn’t be surprising: Acquiring guns through burglary is an inefficient and dangerous pursuit, especially when you can simply buy them on the street. So we agree with the claim of Jack Wegman, chief executive of the Victorian branch of the Sport Shooters Association of Australia, when he says that “… we dispute claims that firearms are entering the black market through theft from law-abiding firearms owners …”While the types of statistics available for each state differ, the combined picture is of a massive increase in gun trafficking and illegal use over the past decade.

Of course, this report only covers the last decade, making it difficult to trace crime trends back to the gun confiscation that occurred in 1996. But Lekakis points out that there is good reason to suspect that the problem goes back farther than the numbers show. “There are several ways to interpret the data: Either the rate of offending has risen dramatically in the last decade or the problem was always much larger than previously understood.” The increase in gun-related charges appears tied to more vigilant policing: “The data also indicates that the police have taken a more proactive and hardline approach to enforcement in recent years and are uncovering more offences than ever before.” These illegal guns have been in the country for some time, possibly dating back to 1996 or shortly thereafter. 

A second report that breaks down Australian gun crime by municipality contains an interesting note on who the criminals in question are. Referring to the Hume suburban area outside Melbourne, a Victoria police spokesperson says, “We know Middle Eastern organized crime groups and other organized crime groups predominantly residing in the northwest metro region who are actively engaged in drug-related trafficking and using firearms to settle drug debts and to intimidate others.” The categorical prohibition of any object is likely to make it popular in organized crime circles: Witness the Chicago mob’s control of the liquor market during Prohibition or the Mexican cartels’ control of the illicit drug market. The unavailability of handguns to law-abiding Russian citizens also doesn’t seem to be hampering their use by the local mob! 

After publishing these damning reports, someone at the New Daily took issue with the attention the series was receiving from the NRA and other pro-gun outlets in America and fired back with the headline, “The NRA tried to use our gun story as propaganda.” But the corresponding article, also written by Lekakis, doesn’t do much to combat the impression that these findings support the NRA’s narrative. All this follow-up piece does is trot out a few experts who say that we can’t be sure the 1996 gun confiscation is to blame for today’s booming black market in firearms. That’s hardly a rebuttal, and it shows that someone doesn’t understand the difference between propaganda and an appropriate object lesson. 

The official Australian line about the success of the gun confiscation is so prevalent that many residents of the country seem not only to believe it, but to regard any criticism of the event as an attack on Australia itself—the vicious responses that we’ve received to our earlier coverage are ample proof. But we would like to be clear that our intention is not to meddle in another country’s affairs, but to see to our own. We firmly believe that the curtailment of Australian citizens’ gun rights—the same action that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others have explicitly cited as an inspiration—has not produced the happy effects that its proponents claim. Exposing the unpleasant truth underneath the gun control myth is a courageous act on the part of the New Daily’s staff, and one that we will support whether they like it or not.


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