Today in the NYTimes, John Howard of Australia explains what he did in Australia after the massacre in Tasmania. He essentially confiscated all the guns there.
They removed about 700,000 guns there. (population 22,821,000). 3%.
He’s saying that’s the equivalent of 40million guns here.
But that’s beside the point. He notes this:
Our challenges were different from America’s. Australia is an even more intensely urban society, with close to 60 percent of our people living in large cities. Our gun lobby isn’t as powerful or well-financed as the National Rifle Association in the United States. Australia, correctly in my view, does not have a Bill of Rights, so our legislatures have more say than America’s over many issues of individual rights, and our courts have less control. Also, we have no constitutional right to bear arms. (After all, the British granted us nationhood peacefully; the United States had to fight for it.)
He goes on to explain how he worked with the states to confiscate the guns.
Here’s his ending:
In the end, we won the battle to change gun laws because there was majority support across Australia for banning certain weapons. And today, there is a wide consensus that our 1996 reforms not only reduced the gun-related homicide rate, but also the suicide rate. The Australian Institute of Criminology found that gun-related murders and suicides fell sharply after 1996. The American Journal of Law and Economics found that our gun buyback scheme cut firearm suicides by 74 percent. In the 18 years before the 1996 reforms, Australia suffered 13 gun massacres — each with more than four victims — causing a total of 102 deaths. There has not been a single massacre in that category since 1996.
Few Australians would deny that their country is safer today as a consequence of gun control.
The title of this column?
“I went after guns. Obama can too.”
Based on what??
I wouldn’t presume to lecture Americans on the subject. I can, however, describe what I, as prime minister of Australia, did to curb gun violence following a horrific massacre 17 years ago in the hope that it will contribute constructively to the debate in the United States.
How about a different title. “What John Howard did in Australia about gun violence” or “How the Australian system worked so that I could confiscate guns” or any number of other titles.
The bold in my first cut notes he’s happy he didn’t have to deal with a Bill of Rights. So how about “How the Bill of Rights can hamper gun confiscation” or “state cooperation in gun removal” or “How the Bill of Rights is making you unsafe” or any number of other titles.