The U.S. Doesn't Need Australian Gun Control

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Gun rights should be universal, not just something we talk about here in the United States. However, gun control has to be addressed everywhere in this world.

What’s worse, some people want to import terrible ideas because they think they’ve worked elsewhere. Earlier today, I addressed a call for Canadian-style gun control, for example.

Now, I’ve got someone wanting to push for Australian-style gun control.

Yet because of the unprecedented death toll, the Port Arthur Massacre spurred governments to act. Within a fortnight, state and territory police ministers met and agreed to reform Australia’s gun laws. Most semi-automatic weapons were banned for civilian use. Licensing and registration rules were tightened. A national firearms registry was established. Gun owners had to provide a justification for owning a weapon, and personal security was specifically excluded as a valid reason.

Having tightened the rules, the national government promised that it would buy back newly banned firearms at market prices. Australians could simply walk into their local police station with a gun, and walk out with cash. The gun buyback also operated as an amnesty, in which anyone could drop off a gun with their local police for safe disposal, no questions asked.

By the time the amnesty was over, more than 600,000 firearms had been handed back. While critics of gun buybacks often deride them as merely allowing criminals to upgrade their arsenals, the Australian gun buyback seemed to disproportionately involve people handing back the only gun they owned. As a result of the buyback, the share of gun-owning households nearly halved, from 15% to 8%.

The starkest impact of the National Firearms Agreement was on mass shootings: Australia suffered none in the decade afterward. Since then, the country has experienced only two mass shootings — both of which were family murder-suicides.

Indeed, that’s actually true.

However, it’s also only part of the story.

Australia hit a patch of mass shootings almost out of the blue, then it retreated just as quickly. It just happened to coincide with their gun control push.

Meanwhile, they still have issues with guns in Australia. They’re just not having mass shootings.

The fact that they’re having issues with guns is revealed in the recurring effort at gun buybacks and turn-in programs seeking to get more and more guns off the streets. This would be a non-factor if guns were no longer an issue there. Instead, though, they keep trying to get more and more firearms from people.

Why is that?

Well, because as horrible as mass shootings are, they’re still statistically rare. The most common forms of firearm-related violence continue on and on without even noticing much of a speedbump from gun control laws. They smuggle in guns with other illicit goods and sell them to various criminal factions.

Where there’s a demand for a firearm, there will be someone willing to sell one. It’s just that simple.

The big issue, however, is that the United States isn’t Australia, either. For one thing, we’ve got a porous border to our south that allows all kinds of illicit goods to bypass customs, something much more difficult to do in Australia. We also have a large, gun-owning population that’s not going to just roll over and allow people to legislate away their right to semi-automatic weapons. They might not get violent, but they’ll sure as hell be non-compliant. Just look at what happened with the New York SAFE Act.

And that was New York. Do you think it’s going to be better in pro-gun states? Hardly.

It’s well past time anti-gunners give up the dream of Australian-style gun control. It’s never going to happen, and that’s for the best. It’s a terrible idea, anyway.