MuniLand

Time for gun control in America

By Cate Long
December 14, 2012

Another mass killing in America. Another wave of grief and questioning. After the killing of 20 children and at least 6 adults in Newton, Connecticut, it’s time as a nation that we tighten the control of gun ownership. Australia changed its laws after facing a similar tragedy. After the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting in July that killed 12 people and injured 58 others, I wrote about how Australia approached gun control. It is worth revisiting and engaging the debate:

July 24, 2012 – After the tragic murders in Aurora, Colorado last Friday, the debate over gun control in the U.S. has been reignited. Policymakers would do well to study the case of Australia’s gun-control laws, which were put in place following a comparably tragic incident in 1996. After a man killed 35 people and wounded an additional 21 with two semi-automatic rifles in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur, Australia passed a law that banned all such rifles, along with semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and then created a restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls.

The national government also undertook a gun buyback program. This involved each state and territory establishing and operating a system through which gun owners and dealers could surrender the newly prohibited weapons in return for compensation. Arrangements were also made to compensate firearms dealers for loss of business related to these newly prohibited firearms.

Interestingly, the Australian government only set the policy parameters for the program and left it to each state and territory to establish how to enact it. Because of the variance in the territories’ methods, there’s an interesting data set researchers were able to use to analyze the effectiveness of the program:

In the seven years before the NFA [National Firearms Agreement], the average annual firearm homicide rate per 100,000 was .43 (range .27 to .60) while for the seven years post NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate was .25 (range .16 to .33).

Additional evidence strongly suggests that the buyback causally reduced firearm deaths. First, the drop in firearm deaths was largest among the type of firearms most affected by the buyback. Second, firearm deaths in states with higher buyback rates per capita fell proportionately more than in states with lower buyback rates.

Among G20 nations, the U.S. owns the highest firearm-related death rate. Following this latest mass killing, it’s a good time to look at other nations and their laws. The passive stance of Congress and our political leaders does not serve the people.

Comments
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No gun control law could have prevented this massacre at the Sandy Hook school. This was the work of a disturbed young person who had easy access to legally-owned firearms. There are a host of problems on many different levels that play a part in this tragedy.

The mother of the shooter had a responsibility to keep the firearms in a locked cabinet, especially when the household included an under 21 person who had mental issues. Obviously this was not the case here. If the mother was not killed she would have been arrested and would have shared responsibility for this tragedy.

There is a law in Connecticut that makes it illegal to go on school property with a firearm in all but a few cases. The stupidity of this law is apparent. Who was in the building to defend the children? If there was one or more persons who had a legal permit to carry and if these people regularly took part in the sport of recreational shooting, perhaps there would have been the chance that this incident could have been prevented or hopefully mitigated. In Connecticut, it is glaringly obvious that schools are full of defenseless people who are at the mercy of a madman.

The theater in Aurora Colorado had a No Firearms Allowed sign posted, which was a blaring statement that there was no one in the theater who would be able to defend against an armed crazy person. This was the only theater in the area that had such a posting.

The Australian law does not ban the handguns that were used in the Sandy Hook tragedy. Nor does it ban a wide range of rifles and handguns. Lee Harvey Oswald’s bolt action rifle is legal in Australia. The crazy madman would merely use whatever weapon that was at his/her disposal to carry out the mission. If someone was intent on killing as many children as possible, any household object can be used and is only limited by one’s imagination.

The norms of today’s society are yet one more contributing factor to these kinds of acts. Villains are glorified, certain clothing fashions promote the image of thuggery, movies, television, and videos encourage violence on a level that would never be allowed in the era of the early 1960′s, which is when I happened to live my childhood. Yet all of us played with realistic toy guns of all types, whether it was cowboys and indians, or army games. Having a Mattel Tommy Gun was the holy grail of toys of this type. Yet these mass murderers that pick off the innocents in schools and public places are a much younger generation that was raised in an society where toy guns are politically incorrect, but shocking levels of violence in the various media are tolerated, all in the name of free expression.

Police in the 60′s projected an image of subdued professionalism and confidence. Today, police departments have vehicles that either look like Nascar vehicles with huge graphics and fitted with every James Bond gadget available, or they look like evil para-military assault vehicles with blacked out windows that belong in the latest Terminator movie.

How does a less than perfect looking, perhaps nerdy, perhaps shy, perhaps not able to dress to the latest clothing styles cope with being constantly reminded that they are losers? Without a moral counterweight in the home they grow in a vacuum that is void of righteousness. And then at a certain age when able, they strike back at society in the most horrid of ways. Or they strike back at themselves in the forms of drugs, anorexia, suicide, or some other self-abuse.

Do you really think that instituting a ban on assault weapons is the answer to this mess?

Posted by SalvatoreM | Report as abusive
 

I love the qualifier “Among the G20 nations, the US owns the highest firearms-related death rate”. I guess the “firearms related” makes it somewhat accurate.
Actually though, Two G20 nations, Indonesia and Russia have TOTAL homicide rates twice as high as the US, Brazil and Mexico, 4X the rate of the US, and one, South Africa, nearly 6X as high as the US.

Posted by Woolhouse | Report as abusive
 

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