Does Gun Control Successfully Stop Mass Shootings in Other Countries?

AP Photo/Peter Dejong

Because of what I do, I have to read a lot of op-eds written by anti-gunners. I don’t write about most of them. I don’t even finish a lot of them because that much stupid can’t be good for your brain.


Yet there are common themes that I see, themes I’m sure you’ve all seen time and time again as well.

In particular, in the wake of a mass shooting, the anti-gunners make claims about how gun laws in other nations effectively ended mass shootings. The arguments are made over and over again.

Unfortunately, they’re all total crap.

Let’s start with Australia, a favorite of anti-gunners right now.

Anti-gunners argue that following the 1996 Port Arthur mass shooting that killed 39 people, Australia enacted strict gun control and hasn’t had a mass shooting since.

Except, the country has. Using the FBI definition of a mass killing–three or more people killed in a single event–the Hunt family murder in 2014 had a husband murder his wife and three children with a firearm. There’s also the Wright St. Bikie murders which were the result of a biker gang feud.

Look, if you’re going to use gang- and drug-related murders in your mass shooting statistics, we can use biker gang feuds.

Further, it’s not like that was the only massacre that’s taken place in Australia since then, either. The killers simply shifted to different weapons. For example, the Churchill fire in 2009 killed ten people. That’s the same year five members of the Lin family were slaughtered due to blunt force trauma.

Just last year, five people were killed by either being stabbed or bashed in Bedford, Australia near Perth.

In other words, not only did it not stop massacres in general, it didn’t even stop mass shootings.

Anti-gunners also like to focus attention in England.


You see, following the 1987 Hungerford mass shooting, England cracked down on guns too. Anti-gun activists point out how there hasn’t been a mass shooting since then.

Except, they’re wrong.

There wasn’t a mass killing quite the way we tend to think of it, but there were the Cumbria spree shootings in 2010 that left 11 people killed. So, by the FBI definition, they’re probably right. Then again, Hungerford was a spree-killing, too, so I suppose the point remains.

An important point missed, though, is how many mass shootings England experienced before 1987.


That’s right. The Hungerford massacre was a single event at that point, a one-time attack. In fact, England has had as many massacres since enacting their gun control laws as they had beforehand. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not exactly a sterling success.

But what about Scotland? Some have pointed out that after the mass shooting at Dunblane Primary School in 1996 which killed 18 kids, Scotland enacted gun control quickly and hasn’t had a problem since.

And, unlike both Australia and England, Scotland hasn’t.

However, like England, Scotland didn’t have one before, either.

It’s impossible to claim that a gun law is responsible for stopping something from happening again when the original occurrence was rare.

When anti-gunners trot out these other nations as evidence that gun control stops massacres from happening, they’re not accurate. Most are parroting talking points they picked up from other anti-gunners. They didn’t do any research on their own. They took the information at face value.


Others are using some creative thinking to justify ignoring certain mass shootings in other countries while also using questionable statistics that overstate the number of mass shootings in the U.S. For the record, by “creative thinking,” I mean self-delusion and lying.

Only one of the nations mentioned above had anything approaching a history of mass shootings. Australia had several in the years immediately preceding Port Arthur, yet what we’ve seen is that it didn’t stop massacres from taking place. It merely shifted the killers’ weapons choice. Is it somehow better to have your head bashed in than to be shot? I don’t think so.

For the rest, we’re looking at a knee-jerk reaction to relatively isolated incidents. In almost all cases, you find either that there was no actual history of mass shootings anyway–which may suggest that there wouldn’t necessarily be more afterward–or that they didn’t stop mass shootings either. Even Germany, who reacted similarly to these nations after the 2009 Winnendon school shooting that killed 16, failed to stop the 2016 Munich shooting that killed ten.

These nations’ reactions aren’t having the effect anti-gunners claim, and it’s past time they stop lying about it.

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