Former Aussie PM John Howard ‘s NYT Piece on Gun Control in the USA

John Howard, former Australian prime minister (1996-2007), has a very tantalizing piece on gun control in the New York Times.In the article, he talks about the gun control reforms that he and his government introduced following the massacre of 35 people in Port Arthur in Tasmania in 1996. What stood out was this quote:

The fundamental problem was the ready availability of high-powered weapons, which enabled people to convert their murderous impulses into mass killing. Certainly, shortcomings in treating mental illness and the harmful influence of violent video games and movies may have played a role. But nothing trumps easy access to a gun. It is easier to kill 10 people with a gun than with a knife.

Howard also notes the historic and cultural differences between the USA and Australia on gun control, yet adds that the reforms he introduced have dramatically reduced the number of homicides in Australia.  He commends the steps he took as a model that American may wish to emulate in making their country a safer place.

Last year Australia had 100 gun related homicides, America had 10, 000.

Do the math folks!

  • Patrick

    It’s just not that simple.

    Australia’s population is 15X less than our’s for starters.

    Australia does not have a large minority who were transported there and held as slaves like we yanks have and then for the next century after they were freed we treated them like hell and THEN their family structure disintegrated, such that 70% of all black males do not have a live in father.

    Are they violence prone? Yes they are, any sociological study will tell you fatherless males are way more likely to enter violence than others. A lot of that is our fault(white folks historically), but, it’s true.

    50% of our violent prisoners are black and you can’t just lop that off on current US racism( which we do have) because their victims were also black. 50% of your number above.

    Chicago had ~ 500 murders in 2012, guess how many were black perps and black victims? ~93%. It was almost double that murder rate in 1991 BTW. Almost 1000 dead annually. In Afghanistan, NATO had less combat deaths.

    We have major issues over here leading us to retain violent means beyond
    the explosion of the US black family, we have major drug problems among
    rural whites, we have a major dimunition of respect for Christ and as I
    grasp the biblical narrative, that leads to violence( Yahweh accused
    the ancient Jews of being violent a lot when they were in an apostate
    status).

    Beyond that demographic , I would say the USA is flatly a violent nation who also has a tradition of anti state resistance as Howard noted, so disarming the USA would lead to mass murder on a grand scale and I don’t honestly think it is physically possible.

    Our Army can’t tame 23 million Iraqis or Afghans, they won’t be capable of doing it to the 50% of this 300 million people nation who see “gun control” as a satanic idea of “the beast”.

    IF one could make all guns unavailable to everyone, I’d agree it is a good idea, as it stands, what you would succeed at is disarming me and not the violent, criminal man nearby.

    • smithflight

      Your statement: “Australia’s population is 15X less than our’s for starters.”

      James factored that in, review his 2nd sentence. He is saying it is 7.5 times worse in the USA that Australia, that a significant difference. That was his point.

      • Patrick

        My error there, the point is IF you took 23 million average yanks with our history and demographics, exchanged it for Aussies, we’d have the low numbers and they would have the high numbers even WITH their laws.

        Violent criminals don’t obey any laws they dislike and our civil war sort of proved a state cannot make guns unavailable if there is a determined criminal element out there.

        Lincoln had the entire US Navy blockading the south and we got enough guns such that the civil war still leads the USA in combat deaths.

        A great modern example is Mexico, they are having more violence than 2005 Baghdad, gun possession has been illegal there for ages. What good is it?

        What use are super strict anti gun laws in Chicago? Australia has a less violent society than the USA, that’s the difference, not laws.

        • Dave Martin, Australia

          The most important fact you are missing is that of
          the people killed in gun related violence in Australia & around the world
          are mostly by guns manufactured & sold by American companies around the world,
          and imported by criminals against our laws.

          Regulate the sale of guns and reduce the access to
          them by those who would seek to perpetuate the current environment, those are the gun makers and the criminals.

          Australia has more guns than it did at the time of
          John Howard’s move on gun regulation, but they are, mostly, been legally sold,
          secured and stored safely by their owners. We have not had a mass shooting
          since the laws were introduced.

          Tax the manufacturers for producing lethal
          devices, Use that money to buy back the guns, first of all voluntarily, ask the
          states to legislate so that the sale of guns is premised on good practices that
          make owner’s responsible for there use and that are governed by laws that
          protects, as best as possible, from improper care of those weapons. Remove all
          assault rifles from sale,

          Your 2nd constructional rite, adopted on September 17, 1787 does not enshrine the rite to
          kill. You can’t stop the killings,. But you can make your country and others
          safer. Your constitutional rites should not kill other people around the world.
          Guns make killing to easy. Buy back the guns for more than they are worth and you
          will only begin to fix the problem, but it is a start. Cheers,

    • Maxwell

      Actually Australia was settled by a large majority of English and Irish who were transported there against their will in chains by the British army and navy to serve out lengthy prison sentences under the most violent and oppressive of conditions, many for minor offences like stealing bread- unlike the Mayflower pilgrims we started out as convicts and we came here to start a prison.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Abney/100000473825261 James Abney

    According to Census, Australia has 22,620,600 people while the US has 311,591,917 people. Ratio the population versus gun related homicides and you find that the US has 7.3 times the number of gun related homicides per capita. I’m curious how much of Australia’s population is in inner city ghetto settings, where the bulk of US violent crime happens and where we have a relatively large number of people.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I have great respect for former PM Howard. But I disagree with his conclusion that easy access to guns is the largest factor in the rate of violent crime. Most gun crime isn’t random. It is related to criminal culture – whether that of gangs, drug trade or other elements of organized crime. None of the current proposals on the table in the US (whether the executive orders proposed by President Obama or any sort of legislation in discussion in federal or state legislatures) would have much, if any, effect on the culture of violence. And it would not lessen access to guns among that cohort of the population (i.e. criminals or the mentally unstable) that is most likely to commit violent crime using guns. It is the demonization of an inanimate object so as to refuse to consider the demons in our culture (fatherlessness, greed, violent media, a nonsensical and counter-productive set of policies in dealing with mentally unstable members of society prone to violence). Most, if not all, sensible policies regarding gun control (background checks, waiting periods, etc.) are already in place to some degree. Better enforcement of those laws would be helpful. There are a few loopholes (the gun show exceptions) that could be closed – but that is only dabbling at the margins. The thing is – the rate of violent crime in the US is actually lower now than it was 30 years ago. High profile mass killings aren’t any more common now than they were 30 or 50 years ago (they actually peaked in the 20s-30s as a feature of prohobition-era gangserism). The biggest reason for this is better policing.

    The sound and fury of this debate in the moment isn’t likely to produce anything of lasting value.

  • Quin

    I’m an American but not a gun owner. Also in the NYT, Ross Douthat had some good reflections on why the hopes of lessening homicides by such reforms are over-hyped:

    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/gun-control-and-suicide/

    On the other hand, he says, gun control laws do much to reduce gun-related suicides.

  • steve hays

    First of all, the post is unintentionally comical coming from the Red Rambo. Do paratroopers carry squirt guns?

    Politicians typically tout the success of their policies. We don’t expect them to admit failure. What about evidence that his policy was a bust?

    http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1736501,00.html

    Maybe Bird is the one who needs to brush up on his

  • Maxwell

    Two million civilians have been killed as a result of Americas foreign wars in the last decade. If you want to legally convert your murderous impulses into mass killing just join the US army and tick the box for the Middle East. Howard sent our troops along with the US Army under the lie of get the WMD. He did not seem to mind the use of high powered weapons there. Plain hypocrisy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.hodge Ian Hodge

    How many homicides in Kennesaw City, GA, where gun ownership is compulsory?


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