Australia's gun buyback stats misleading

Published: January 11, 2013
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In response to Jackie Gaston (Your Views, Jan. 5): Australia isn't the best example to use when discussing gun control. In many ways, it's an outlier and the use of percentage changes in homicide and suicide rates from firearms can be misleading due to the scale involved — on both sides of the gun control argument. For instance, in 1996, prior to the implementation of the National Agreement, the Australian state of Victoria had seven homicides related to firearms. After the agreement, it had 19. That's a jump of 131 percent, but when compared with the population at the time (about 4.5 million), it was statistically insignificant.

It should also be noted that Australians have never had a right to own firearms and the rate of firearm ownership has always been low — as evidenced by the fact that the buyback, conducted on a national scale, recovered fewer than 700,000 weapons. These weren't just AR-15 style weapons, but also pump-action shotguns, .22-caliber rifles and even BB guns. Lastly, the homicide rate of Australia didn't change after the firearms were removed from public ownership. The majority of homicides in Australia have always been by means other than firearms.

In other words, the removal of the firearms didn't make Australian society any safer.

James Sessions, Moore