By Dean Weingarten
Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- The extreme form of gun control pushed onto the Australian electorate after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 will not “work” in America. The reason is simple. It did not “work” in Australia.
There have been numerous studies about what happened after extreme restrictions on gun ownership were implemented in Australia in 1996. The evidence is clear. There was no measurable benefit, and significant cost. The overall homicide rate was not reduced in a measurable way. The suicide rate went up, down, and up, but stayed level as other methods were substituted.
This detailed article, with charts, is the best summation that I have found, even though the data only goes as far as 2009, before the latest rise in the overall suicide rate.
Proponents of a disarmed population claim otherwise. They use a form of lying with statistics to do so. They show that murders with guns and suicides with guns have fallen.
Those numbers are irrelevant. If you ban guns but the homicide rate does not change, or in the case of Australia, continues to drop to a rate that existed in a much less regulated 1950, you have not reduced the number of people murdered. If you ban guns and the same rate of people kill themselves, you have not reduced suicide.
Using “guns only” numbers is how you lie with statistics. Here is an example that illustrates the foolishness of that approach.
Millions of people die in hospitals every year. Hospitals can be banned, as they are large and easily found.
Ban hospitals, and we eliminate nearly all hospital deaths!
The death rate overall will rise, as people are prevented from obtaining first rate medical care, and are forced to go underground to black market hospitals. But the “hospital death” rate will have dropped!
That is the statistical trick proponents of disarmed populations use to “prove” that Australian gun control was a success.
The overall homicide rate in Australia has been dropping for decades, long before Port Arthur. Now it has dropped to the level that existed in Australia in the 1950’s, much the same as has happened in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, with vastly different gun regulations. If you look at the early years, homicides with guns have risen as the overall rate dropped and dropped as the overall homicide rate rose. At other times the two rates are parallel. The two are not well connected.
Another misleading number is used to claim “success” for the Australian gun control experiment. The claim is that Australia has not had another mass killing *with guns* since the 1996 port Arthur massacre. We are increasingly seeing that “fact” being used to justify the extreme Australian gun control scheme.
Understand that mass killing by gunfire is an extremely rare event, contrary to what is generally seen in the media. Much depends on the definition used. The type of event at Port Arthur, where a well financed person without a criminal record kills dozens of people, is extremely rare. The lack of such an event, in a population 1-14th the size of the United States is statistically insignificant. Legislation should not be based on one time events. Academics studying Australia and New Zealand see no statistical significance.
Australia has had mass killings since Port Arthur. The Childers Hostel Arsonist killed 15 on 23 June, 2000. The Churchill fire killed at least 10 in an arson attack in 2009. 11 people were killed by arson in the Quaker Hill event in 2011. 8 children were killed with a knife in the Cairns child killing event in 2014. Mass killing in Australia has not stopped.
Proponent of disarming the population use changed definitions of public mass shootings to convince us there have been no more mass shootings in Australia since Port Arthur. There are numerous definitions of mass shooting, public mass shooting, rampage shooting, and mass killing. Change the definition of what a “mass shooting” is and you are comparing pussycats to cantaloupes. The current figure used by Australian academics is five people killed, not including the perpetrator.
Proponents of disarming the population used a different definition for “gun massacres” before Port Arthur. It is the killing of four or more people at one time.
“While 13 gun massacres (the killing of 4 or more people at one time) occurred in Australia in the 18 years before the NFA, resulting in more than one hundred deaths, in the 14 following years (and up to the present), there were no gun massacres.”
Former Prime Minister John Howard, one of the principle proponents of population disarmament, uses this trick. PM Howard benefited immensely from the Port Arthur tragedy.
“I don’t believe we were on the cusp of going down the American path,” Howard said. “But I do think the gun laws have had the practical value of reducing the mass slaughters. There were 13 before the new laws; and if you define such an event as five or more victims, there have been none since.
Using the pre-1996 definition, the 2014 homicides by Geoff Hunt, who killed four family members, then himself, fits the “gun massacre” definition. That would discredit the “no mass shootings” since Port Arthur narrative.
If the facts do not fit your narrative, change the definition. Howard uses the general term “mass slaughters” while narrowing the definition to only guns. It is a way to lie with statistics.
Both the Australian definitions are much broader than the Congressional Research Service definition used in the United States in 2013. There, a public mass shooting is four or more unrelated people shot and killed in a public place.
Proponents of political agendas can easily change statistical outcomes by using different definitions for different times.
Crediting the lack of mass shootings in Australia to their extreme gun control polices suffers from correlation causation confusion.
If things happen at the same time, or in sequence, it does not mean that one caused the other. Both could be caused by a common factor. The correlation could be random. Flaws in data gathering, experimental design, or observer bias have to be ruled out.
In Australia a common factor can easily account for both the extreme Australian gun control laws and a reduction in Port Arthur type mass homicides. That factor is the media created copycat effect.
Before Port Arthur, the Australian media were already heavily pushing for extreme gun control. Part of this effort was in hyping mass killing with guns. One of the most explicit shows was done in October of 1995.
A few months before the Port Arthur Massacre, a glamorous current affairs presenter showed Australia how easy it was to get the guns used in massacres. She demonstrated every step, emphasising that she knew nothing about guns and had never held a licence. She filmed the guns lying on the street and cut in similar scenes from after massacres. An activist showed her (and us) how to load and shoot the guns. She showed us how these guns ‘designed for killing people’ are easy to use, then blew apart a target like the head of a victim.
Then a gun control activist offered a key to worldwide infamy: “We are going to have a massacre in Tasmania like those elsewhere!” He sold the massacre in Tasmania as certainty, almost destiny.
A coroner ruled that a suicide, Allen Burrows, had followed the script from the show when he suicided. There is considerable evidence that the mass killer at Port Arthur had watched the show and used it in his planning.
In October 1995 an episode of A Current Affair explicitly taught how to buy guns illegally in Tasmania, and to show how easy it was and how easy to use the guns and splattered a melon target like a victim’s head.
That show was A Current Affair, a collaboration with Rebecca Peters, Roland Browne and Greenpeace activist (name), the so-called ‘National Coalition for Gun Control’, recently become Gun Control Australia. (Hansen, Browne, & Peters, 1995) The presenter, an attractive role model dressed in a flannel shirt, demonstrated everything from locating advertisements to buying the guns, then how to use them – though she had never done so before. They splattered a melon to suggest bloody misuse of the guns
The program was essentially a how to commit a mass killing with firearms in the Australian state of Tasmania. There was a prediction that a mass killing with semiautomatic rifles would happen in Tasmania. A few months later, Port Arthur happened.
Academics have cited Port Arthur as a classic example of the copycat effect, where an unstable individual takes cues from the media to perform their crime.
The Port Arthur massacre was motivated by this media onslaught, especially the coverage of the Dunblane School massacre. Dunblane happened a month and a half before Port Arthur. The mass murderer’s lawyer and Paul Mullen, a forensic psychiatrist, heavily involved in Australian and New Zealand massacres, both confirm this motivation.
After the successful media push to pass the extreme controls, Australian media backed off from over the top coverage of mass killings. Leftist control of Australian media is more concentrated than in the United States. Their motivation has been considerably reduced by the passage of their gun control agenda. The Australian media’s script changed from “It will happen here” to “It cannot happen here”. They may have been sobered by the moral implications of their role in motivating the mass killings.
Without a media push, motivations for copycat mass shootings are reduced enormously. Lower motivations, lower numbers of mass shootings.
I recently spent three months in Australia. I was repeatedly told that semi-automatic rifles were easily available on the black market for $20,000 to $30,000.
It sounds like a lot. But to highly motivated individuals with access to hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as the mass killers in both the Port Arthur and the recent Las Vegas mass killings, such numbers are not much of an impediment.
Fortunately, the media in Australia has not hyped the mass killings by arson that happened in 2000, 2009, and 2011. Only a fraction of the coverage of Dunblane and Port Arthur were focused on those events. If the media had spent as much time dissecting the lives and making anti-heros out of those criminals, to push a political agenda, we would be having more of them.
I pray the Australian mass media will not hype the mass killer and his deed in Las Vegas.
Australia spent about $300 million in their massive gun confiscation/turn-in in 1996. They are spending about 29 million a year on the scheme since then. With other costs involved, a country of 24 million people has spent about a billion dollars on an intrusive and costly policing practice that gains them nothing is social utility. It has cost the government considerably in credibility and trust. Across much of Australia, there is a pervasive fear of outlandish penalties for minor violations of bureaucratic gun controls.
Australia is a democracy. The worst, extreme edges of the gun controls foisted on the public after Port Arthur are being slowly rolled back.
As of November, in New South Wales, the police will be given the option of issuing a warning or a citation for a minor infraction of the draconian “safe storage” rules. Previously, immediate confiscation, loss of license, and hauling before a judge on charges was mandated.
There is no need to repeat Australia’s policy mistakes in the United States. A common sense approach to reduce mass killings would be for the mass media to refrain from making anti-heros out of mass killers. It requires no attack on constitutionally guaranteed rights, only commonsense self restraint.
No mass killers are named in this article. That should be a media standard. The establishment media has standards in place that are not required by law. No media personality is allowed to use the “N” word. Rape victims are not named.
A good template is the “Don’t Inspire Evil” Initiative that has been gaining adherents:
The “Don’t Inspire Evil” Initiative
Bloomfield Press, in cooperation with a growing list of nationally recognized institutions and individuals, joins in support of The Don’t Inspire Evil Initiative:“Refrain from gratuitous or repetitious portrayal
of mass murderers’ names and images.”
Accuracy In Media, Don Irvine, President
Lori Klein, President, Western Journalism Center
Sheriff Richard Mack, Founder, Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Assn.
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
Bloomfield Press, Alan Korwin, Publisher and CEO
Crime Prevention Research Center, John Lott, President
David Kopel, Columnist, The Washington Post
Second Amendment Foundation, Alan Gottlieb, President
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Rabbi Dovid Bendory
We join with Le Monde, La Croix, and CNN French TV affiliate BFMTV who will no longer publish photographs and names of terrorists “to avoid possible posthumous glorification effects.”
We stand with Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin who became world news by refusing to name the perp in an Oregon college incident given saturation “coverage” in national media.
We support the work of No Notoriety, a citizen effort to curtail glorification heaped upon the worst elements of society in perverse efforts to increase media revenue.
We join with former highly regarded FBI Director James Comey who refused to name the mass murderer in Orlando to avoid the “twisted notion” that “fame or glory” could come from carrying out the attack.
The well-established link between copycat crimes, and excessive exposure of criminal perpetrators by mass media, must finally be admitted and broken. We support adoption of the ethical guideline above to encourage responsible reporting, and discourage behavior by reporters, broadcasters and editors that tends to glorify, promote or encourage mass murderers, jihadis and related criminal activity. Every journalist who fails to take steps to limit the publicity support these heinous villains seek is tantamount to complicity in the crimes they commit against humanity.
“We must starve terrorists of the oxygen of publicity which they seek.”
This means when mass killings are covered, we do not glorify the killers. It means we do not provide incentives for others to copy them. Would Port Arthur have happened if the Australia media hadn’t been pushing a gun control agenda? Probably not. Would Las Vegas have happened if the establishment media had not hammered the public with coverage of Orlando and others? We cannot know for certain. The coverage of these events is so over the top the consequences take a long time to damp down.
Would future mass killings be prevented if american media stop glorifying mass killers? Probably. Guns have been part of America forever. Copycat mass killings are a recent phenomena.
I do not expect change soon. The establishment media will have to be shamed into taking action. They do not shame easily.
More mass killings are likely to happen because the establishment media benefit from their happening.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.