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This site may, in fact always will contain images and information likely to cause consternation, conniptions, distress, along with moderate to severe bedwetting among statists, wimps, wusses, politicians, lefties, green fascists, and creatures of the state who can't bear the thought of anything that disagrees with their jaded view of the world.

Dec 15, 2008

Prohibition and gun control

Photo: David Leyonhjelm, the author.

The following is an excerpt from a speech by David Leyonhjelm of the Liberty and Democracy Party, at the “Shaken and Stirred Christmas Prohibition Speakeasy,” which sounds like an interesting gathering of those effected by government prohibition of the sort of activities that the press have been taught to consider “controversial.”

David has a great grasp of the subject and I recommend the full article.

One of my little mates, a bandicoot.

The main effect of the Howard gun laws as they have personally effected me, has been the proliferation of feral animals in my area which were previously kept under control by small landholders who are now disarmed. This is of course accompanied by a big decline in native species, especially bandicoots and native finches. Townies, if they notice this at all are probably not all that concerned as they are naturally more familiar and comfortable with dogs, cats, and rabbits, than they are with marsupials that look like large rats and dig holes in lawns.

By David Leyonhjelm

I wonder if anyone can tell me who said this:

“We will find any means we can to further restrict them because I hate guns. I don’t think people should have guns, unless they are police, or in the military or security industry. Ordinary citizens should not have weapons. We do not want the American disease imported into Australia.”

It was John Howard, the former Prime Minister. And my guess is he probably spoke for a majority of Australians. Quite likely a fair few people here too.

There were three assumptions implicit in his comment.

First, he assumed strict gun laws lead to gun control, which in turn leads to reduced levels of violence.

Second, he assumed the so-called “American gun culture” is bad and something to be avoided.

Third, he assumed it was perfectly OK for the government to have all the guns and for ordinary people to have none. ……

But it is a fact that gun laws do not control guns. And even if they did it wouldn’t reduce crime.

And the so-called American gun culture is derived from movies and TV, with a bit of media imagination thrown in. The reality is altogether different.

I recognise some people are reluctant to reconsider their opinion of guns. Even liberal minded people on things like drugs, censorship and prostitution tend to have a blind spot on guns.

Some people actually fear guns, like some fear heights or spiders. The term for fear of guns is hoplophobia. People who fear guns are not open to rational persuasion, just as some people can never relax when there’s a spider on the wall no matter how much scientific data is offered explaining how spiders can’t jump. ……

Unless you were a sporting shooter or hunter, or a farmer, you probably wouldn’t be familiar with the detail; you’ll have simply heard about “tough gun laws”. You quite likely assumed tough gun laws sounded good and never thought further about it.

Prohibition can be a bit like that. Unless you are directly affected, you tend not to notice when others lose a bit of their liberty.

So let me tell you a little bit about the Howard gun laws.

They banned civilians from owning self-loading (ie semi-automatic) rifles and shotguns, plus pump action shotguns.

They restricted magazine capacity on everything else, introduced individual registration of rifles and shotguns, and imposed a range of other restrictions on firearm acquisition.

In 2002/03 pistols with short barrels were prohibited, plus calibres greater than .38 or magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Additional licensing obligations were imposed too. ……

When the police come to my house, they are always in pairs and one stands back with a hand near their pistol, just in case I burst out the door and spray them with bullets. Of course they don’t do that when they visit one of my friends. He also has a gun but he hasn’t bothered with a licence, so they assume he can’t spray them with bullets.

The safe in which I store my guns in my home is subject to inspection at virtually any time. And if I am found with so much as a single 22 bullet not locked up, I’m likely to lose my licence.

In fact, it is very easy to break the law if you are a firearm owner. In some cases regulations were written to make compliance difficult in the hope it would discourage licence applications. ….

These days, politicians are protected by armed guards at taxpayers expense and the well-heeled hire armed security guards. Everyone else takes his or her chances.

In fact, you can’t carry a weapon of any kind. Even non-lethal alternatives like pepper sprays, mace and Tasers are banned. You are not allowed to carry a pocket-knife. Bullet-proof body armour is banned too.

In theory, the right of self-defence hasn’t been lost. Self-defence is still available as a defence and juries consistently refuse to convict those charged with serious offences whenever self-defence is established.

But it is no longer a practical option for a lot of people. Realistically, only the young, the strong and the agile have options. I often hear young fit men scoff at the idea that they need a weapon for self-defence. But they seem to forget about their grandmother, mother or sister. ……

Of course, some anti-gun people have disagreed. One of them is Simon Chapman, well known for his anti smoking lobbying. He pointed to more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings as evidence of the impact.

But mass shootings are rare and countries that did not introduce similar gun laws, such as New Zealand, also had no mass shootings. The Childers backpacker murders also showed that mass murder does not necessarily require firearms. (In June 2000 in Childers a misfit set fire to the Palace Backpackers Hostel killing 15 people.)

In fact, the worst mass murder prior to Port Arthur was a deliberately lit fire at the Whisky a Go Go disco in Brisbane. (another deliberate fire killing another 15 people.)

It should not really surprise anyone that the gun laws had no impact. It has been no different anywhere else in the world. There is no country in the world where strict gun control laws have led to a decline in violent crime. Australia was never likely to be an exception. ….

Time prevents me from providing detail, but here are a few examples.

Malaysia has one of the strictest gun control laws in the world including the death penalty for illegal possession of a firearm. That has not stopped criminals from obtaining or using firearms in crime, or of engaging in shoot-outs with police.

Britain banned pistols in 1997 following the Dunblane tragedy. In the following two years the use of pistols in crime rose by 40 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The chances of being mugged in London are now six times greater than in New York.

In Jamaica, in 1974 legislation was introduced banning the private ownership of firearms and ammunition. The Prime Minister Michael Manley told the country, “There is no place in this society for the gun, now or ever.”

The sentence for almost any firearms crime was life imprisonment. There was no bail for those charged.

The murder rate in 1973 was 11 per 100,000. It soon rose to 30 and peaked at 40 per 100,000 in 1980.

In May 2007 the World Bank issued a report which said, “Murder rates in the Caribbean (it was referring to Jamaica) – at 30 per 100,000 population annually – are higher than for any other region of the world and assault rates, at least based on assaults reported to police, are also significantly above the world average.”

The Republic of Ireland banned virtually all firearms in 1973, requiring their surrender within just three days, based on concerns about the IRA. The following year the number of murders doubled and stayed at that level for the next 20 years. Other violent crimes increased as well.

The ban was dropped in 2005 but guess what, the Irish Government is once again talking about banning pistols.

In the US, Washington DC has one of the worst murder rates in the country. But the murder rate was declining up to 1976 when a blanket ban on handguns and ready to use long arms was introduced.

Between 1976 and 1991 the murder rate rose 200% while the overall US rate rose only 9%. This ban was recently found unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. .........

Since the early 1990s gun laws have been considerably relaxed in the US, particularly regarding self-defence, yet there has been no resulting increase in crime. The US national murder rate in 1991 was 9.8 per 100,000 but fell to 5.6 in 2006.

While America was liberalising its gun laws, countries like Australia, Canada and the UK were going the other way.

In America, violent crime rates fell substantially, with the biggest reductions in States that allowed people to carry concealed pistols for self-defence.

In Australia, Canada and the UK, violent crime rates either remained the same or rose.

The increase in US states that allow concealed carry had one other effect. Multiple victim public killings of the kind seen at Port Arthur declined. A study of all such shootings in the US from 1977 to 1999 found that deaths and injuries were 80 percent lower in states that passed laws allowing people to carry concealed pistols. To the extent that attacks continued, all but the smallest attacks took place where concealed handguns were banned such as schools.

Virginia Tech is one such gun-free zone.

Israel has had similar success in stopping mass public shootings. When it was realised that the police and military simply couldn’t be there to protect people all the time when terrorists attack, a change of policy led to Israelis encouraged to carry concealed handguns. Since then terrorist gun attacks have been rare.

Today about 15 percent of Jewish adults in Israel have permits to carry concealed handguns. Thus in large public gatherings many citizens – unknown beforehand to the terrorists – are able to shoot back at them. During waves of terror attacks, Israel’s national police chief will call on concealed handgun permit holders to make sure they carry firearms at all times.

About five million Americans across 40 states have concealed carry permits, just over two percent of the adult population. Numbers would have to increase about seven times to bring it up to the same level as in Israel.

Despite the lack of logic in disarming potential crime victims, those who implicitly believe in gun control, like John Howard, tend to maintain that belief irrespective of the evidence.

If there were another mass shooting in Australia tomorrow, we would inevitably hear a crescendo of calls for even stricter gun laws. ......


  1. The opening to this speech is a beautiful example of "pace and lead". Before David attempts to influence his audience he first builds empathy for their current thinking. This isn't manipulative, rather it is respectful and polite. Before you can lead people you need to go where the people are. The facts and figures are also important but the opening is the winner. I wish I had been able to make the evening. It sounds like it was a lot of fun.

  2. Terje; I can't argue with that. David is an excellent speaker with a damn good grasp of the subject matter and the ability to cut through the 'controversiality' aspect of the thinking that many of those present in that gathering would have tend to have.

    He is probably the kind of guy we need to have leading our 'Reps' team.

  3. Really excellent post. The case for loosening gun laws is well made.