Via email from the CSSA
Civilian disarmament advocates tout Australia’s gun control program, brought in after the horrific mass shooting in Port Arthur in 1996, as a resounding success.
In April 2015, US President Barack Obama claimed, “When Australia had a mass killing … it was just so shocking the entire country said, ‘Well, we’re going to completely change our gun laws,’ and they did. And it hasn’t happened since.”
Business Insider reports, “Australia hasn’t experienced a massacre similar to Port Arthur since.”
Reuters reports, “The country has had no mass shootings since.”
There is only one problem with all those statements. They aren’t true.
In the nine years prior to the implementation of Australia’s strict gun laws, the island nation averaged 562 gunshot deaths per year. In the 18 years since the law’s implementation, Australia averages 319 gunshot deaths annually. Gun deaths are a little more than half what they were prior to the 1996 law. Commendable, yes, but Australia hardly eradicated gun deaths, as civilian disarmament advocates want us to believe.
David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, co-authored a paper on the effects of the Australian gun buyback. In that study, Hemenway made one profound statement, even while insisting Australia’s 1996 law was responsible for the decline in gun deaths.
“No study has explained why gun deaths were falling [prior to the implementation of the 1996 gun law], or why they might be expected to continue to fall.”
If researchers have no idea why the rate of Australian gun deaths was falling before the Port Arthur Massacre, how can they possibly claim Australia’s 1996 legislation is responsible for it afterward?
According to Ian Walmsley and Glen Innes, writing in The Northern Daily Leader, the Australian government’s own data claims over 100,000 long guns (rifles and shotguns) and more than 10,000 handguns are illegally in the hands of Australians.
So how do civilian disarmament advocates rationalize their claim that Australia hasn’t suffered a mass shooting since 1996 against the cold, hard facts that prove otherwise?
They simply manipulate the definition of “mass shooting.”
US federal statutes define “mass killing” as three or more people killed, regardless of weapons. All references to Australia’s supposed “gun control success” define mass shootings as an event where five or more people are murdered.
In other words, they are less than truthful.
They also refuse to accept that mass murder still happens on a frighteningly regular basis in Australia.
On June 23, 2000, Robert Paul Long’s arson attack on the Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel killed 15 people. But he didn’t use a gun, right?
On October 21, 2002, Huan Yun Xiang entered Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, shot two people and injured five more. Xiang is currently under psychiatric care after being found not guilty by reason of mental impairment. Since Xiang didn’t reach the magic threshold of five dead, his murder spree doesn’t count either.
While the Lin family massacre meets the threshold for mass shootings with its death toll of five, the Lin family was bludgeoned to death, not shot, by Lian Bin “Robert” Xie on July 18, 2009, so once again, this does not count.
On April 29, 2011, Donato Anthony Corbo of Hectorville, Australia, walked into his neighbour’s home armed with a shotgun, where he murdered three people and seriously injured another. After police surrounded him, Corbo also shot and wounded two police officers before he was finally arrested. Once again, the death toll does not reach the false threshold of five, so this also is not considered a mass shooting.
On September 9, 2014, Geoff Hunt shot and killed his wife and three children before shooting and killing himself. Australian gun control cheerleaders refuse to count this as a mass shooting because only four innocents lost their lives. They don’t count the perpetrator in the death toll, so their magic threshold of five is not breached.
On October 22, 2014, Ian Francis Jamieson took his legally owned and registered firearm and shot three people in their rural Wedderburn home.
On December 15, 2014, lone gunman Man Haron Morris used his shotgun to hold 18 people hostage inside the Lindt Chocolate Café. While Morris only killed Tori Johnson, when police entered the café to end the hostage crisis they shot and killed hostage Katrina Dawson as well as Man Haron Morris.
None of the 2014 shootings qualify as “mass shootings” according to criteria designed to fulfil the false narrative that Australia has no mass shootings.
Only by using highly misleading criteria can one say Australia hasn’t suffered a mass shooting since 1996.
Yes, Australia implemented harsh restrictions on firearm ownership after the Port Arthur Massacre.
No, it didn’t stop mass shootings as we’ve outlined above.
Australia’s firearm control legislation requires the individual to provide a valid reason for owning a firearm, just like Canada. Under Australia’s firearm control legislation, self-defense is not considered a valid reason for owning a firearm, just like Canada.
Just like Canada, Australia’s severe restrictions on firearm ownership do not prevent criminals and crazies from obtaining firearms, nor do they prevent mass shootings.
So why do anti-gun advocates insist Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since 1996?
Simply put, if they told the truth it would mean admitting they don’t have the answers – that their favourite solution, civilian disarmament, doesn’t really stop mass murders. Not at all.
Yes, Virginia, those with a “ban guns” agenda really are this jaded, opportunistic and deceitful.