Buyback, not confiscation
As a former Australian, I take issue with the unsupported references to Australian gun crime statistics used by an Aug. 1 letter writer as support for why stricter gun legislation in the U.S.A. won’t work. Without understanding Australia’s social structure and its economic and criminal climate, the writer’s comments are misleading.
Firstly, there was no “confiscation of all guns.” A voluntary government buyback program removed more than 600,000 guns from public hands. Licensed hunters, farmers, collectors and sports shooters remain free to possess guns.
According to the Australian Institute of Criminology report for 2011, gun crime rates in Australia have continued to decline since restrictive gun legislation was introduced after the Port Arthur and Monash University murders. Since Port Arthur, firearm murders have dropped by 47 percent as a total of all murders and firearm suicides have dropped from 22 percent to just 7 percent of all cases.
By comparison, in the last five years in the U.S.A., according to the FBI, the percentage of murders by firearms has never dropped below 66.9 percent of all murders, despite national rates dropping by 15 percent in that time.
In Australia, the majority of crime is committed by the 18-25 age group. This group is also most affected by the unavailability of firearms. As a result, firearm crime is naturally declining because of the law.
Secondly, the rise in firearm assaults and robberies the letter writer describes is also factually incorrect. There were spikes during the late 90s as a result of a well-documented heroin drought, but when addicts moved to other substances or sought rehabilitation, gun-related assaults and robberies continued to decline.
While Australia’s successful legislation is a model for other countries, differing social and economic climates dictate different implementations, including greater education and greater social responsibility.
New River, Ariz.
(formerly of Roseburg)