Update April 2015

No law that restricts access to guns will do anything to stop criminal violence, because, after all, criminals don't care about laws.   That's what makes them criminals.

The situation in NSW Australia in 2015 has gone along the path that would generally be predicted in the circumstances.  The circumstances being the unwillingness of Australians to accept peer reviewed evidence that conflicts with their prejudices.

The USA, which listens to it's eminent scientists (such as John Lott) has liberalized gun ownership and "right to carry" laws since 1996 and, predictably, reduced the incidence of violent crime.  Excepting in schools and educational institutions and other places where law abiding citizens do not go armed because it is forbidden.  In those places, mass gun murders seem to happen with clockwork regularity.  Think Columbine, Colorado Aurora theater. Do a web search "school shootings in US".  That is because there are no armed law abiding citizens in those locations to protect the innocent.

More recently, consider terrorists.  In Europe, US and Australia we have had several incidents in the last twelve months involving gun wielding terrorists.

small arms
May 2014
Sydney. Au
small arms
December 2014
Paris, France
small arms
January 2015
Copenhagen, Denmark
small arms
February 2015
Garland, Texas
small arms
May 2015

These statistics speak for themselves.  The more stringent are the national gun controls, the more terror attacks per head of population, (4 attacks and 20 "friendly" deaths in Europe & Australia, one attack and no deaths in the USA, which has a similar population to EU+AU).  Not only are there more attacks, but and those attacks are more likely to succeed when citizens are not allowed to carry a concealed weapon.

The two terrorists in Texas were shot by a concealed handgun wielding Texan before they could kill anyone.  That is exactly what logic should suggest would happen in a country where law abiding citizens can carry concealed weapons.  In Europe and Australia victims were unable to protect themselves, so the victim count was high.

Barvennon predicts that, despite threats by ISIL,  the number of attacks in the US will remain low, and that the success rate will be low.  That is because more US citizens will now start to carry and practice with concealed handguns.

If you were a terrorist, where would you prefer to go?  somewhere you could "make a mark", or somewhere you got killed before you had started?

Surprisingly, most citizens do not need to own a gun for society to gain the social benefit.    The evidence suggests that that 1% - 2% of citizens owning or carrying a concealed weapon produces a marked reduction in street attacks and home invasions, and, seemingly, terrorist attacks.

The mere possibility that the intended victim might be armed serves to deter most criminals.

Those who believe that a high homicide rate results from greater firearms availability might like to consider the data compiled by the National Injury Surveillance Unit (from Killias 1993. That liberal institution have deleted their web page, but a copy exists here) comparing firearms ownership and homicide rate in Switzerland with that in England & Wales (reproduced below).

% Households
with Firearms.
Homicides per
100,000 Pop
England & Wales

If availability of firearms caused homicide, then why do the SWISS, who have five times as many guns per head of population when compared to ENGLAND, have fewer murders per head of population?

As for availability of guns causing  suicide.  Back in 2000 AD I copied this file from the Australian Bureau of Statistics site.  If you look at total suicide deaths by year, (Table 9.3) you will see that there is < 10% variance year on year until the year that gun controls were introduced.  (see if you can guess when that was).  Then, if you look at Table 9.5 and look at deaths by "firearms and explosives" you will find that total person deaths by firearms went from 23.7% in 1988 to 12.2% in 1997.

So the ad hoc conclusion must be that taking guns away from people seemingly made people more likely to commit suicide.  (But at least the control people can console themselves that suicides were much less likely to use a gun to kill themselves.)

Oh, and in case you didn't guess it, John Howard introduced the gun control legislation in 1996.

"Well why", you might ask, "do the Australian authorities not admit that they were wrong, and liberalize gun laws?"

Perhaps the answer is that there is self interest by those who wield political and media power.  While it is a proven beyond reasonable doubt fact that guns in the hands of "we the people"  reduce violent crime, murder, robbery and aggravated assault against the population at large (see John Lott below), it would appear that those with a high media profile are in fact at greater risk when guns are held by ordinary citizens.

For instance, out of 43 US presidents, 4 were "removed" from office by guns, and another four took sick leave as a result of guns.  Those odds are much worse than for a soldier in an active war theater.  (~10% fatality rate, ~10% wounded rate).  And a disproportionate number of governors, senators, representatives and media personalities (e.g. John Lennon) have been attacked.


John R. Lott, Jr., School of Law, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois  60637 and David B. Mustard; Department of Economics; University of Chicago; Chicago, Illinois  60637 wrote an academic paper dated July 26, 1996 on their research into "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns".  Following is the abstract:

Using cross-sectional time-series data for U.S. counties from 1977 to 1992, we find that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes, without increasing accidental deaths. If those states without right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, county- and state-level data indicate that approximately 1,500 murders would have been avoided yearly. Similarly, we predict that rapes would have declined by over 4,000, robbery by over 11,000, and aggravated assaults by over 60,000. We also find criminals substituting into property crimes involving stealth, where the probability of contact between the criminal and the victim is minimal. Further, higher arrest and conviction rates consistently reduce crime. The estimated annual gain from all remaining states adopting these laws was at least $5.74 billion in 1992. The annual social benefit from an additional concealed handgun permit is as high as $5,000.
The original paper was written for an academic audience and has a lot of jargon in it.  The subject is treated in a more comprehensible & user friendly manner in John Lott's book.

When the Lott-Mustard article originally appeared it provoked an uproar among control advocates.   In 1998 local gun control advocate Associate Professor Chapman admitted defeat when he wrote "With the national armed robbery rate up 47%, . . no downturn in gun suicides or domestic slayings . . was it (i.e. the taxation funded buyback of guns) all for nothing?

In the intervening nineteen years nobody has been able to refute Lott & Mustard's findings.  Many have tried, but read them yourself.  (e.g. google "refutations of Lott Mustard paper").  They mostly aren't worth reading, and one cannot help but  wonder how the authors were ever employed as research assistants.

In the final analysis, we in Australia prefer prejudice to truth.

We are told by our media to prefer a nanny government limiting our liberty "for our own good", even if it demonstrably results in harm.

We do not want an honest government that defends our liberty against pedagogue politicians promoting the latest "politically correct" dogma.

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