Gun control: did it reduce suicides and homicides in Australia?

I keep calling for more stringent gun laws in the U.S.; in fact, I would, if I were in charge, take the U.S. to the British system, in which private ownership of handguns is prohibited and rifles can be owned only for sports shooting or hunting—and under strict licensing. In contrast, many gun advocates say that the U.S. would become more dangerous should such legislation be enacted, and, regardless, the Second Amendment guarantees us private ownership of guns (the Supreme Court agrees; I don’t).

There is one “natural” experiment in banning guns: that in Australia, where, after mass shootings, stringent gun control was imposed in 1996. (Actually, the UK did another, but I know of no data like what I’ll show below.) And the data on homicides and suicides for periods of roughly two decades before and after the ban has just been analyzed and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Simon Chapman et al. (reference and free download below).  The upshot is that there are some data suggesting that gun-related suicides and homicides decreased after the ban, but in some cases it didn’t reach statistical significance.

There are two problems here. First, firearm-related homicides and suicides were already decreasing before the gun ban, so the analysis had to determine whether the rate of decline of gun-related deaths increased after the gun ban, and that method involves estimating regression coefficients—an insensitive way to detect anything other than big changes in rate.

Second, there may have been other changes over time that decreased gun-related deaths after the ban, namely the wider use of cellphones, which allow one to report shootings faster, possibly saving more lives and thus reducing the homicide rates, as well as improvements in medical care, so a suicide or shooting is less likely to cause death. Since the data analyzed involve only deaths and not injuries, the authors can’t rule out these factors.

That said, the data show that the number of mass shootings (defined as shootings in which more then five people die) dropped to zero after the ban (19 years after the gun ban was enacted), while there were 13 such incidents in the 18 years before the gun ban was enacted. That itself is a significant difference if you use a simple two-sample chi-square test assuming equality of numbers, but that difference may reflect only the same trend of reduced homicides over time. However, the overall data show that in every case the rate of decline in gun-related deaths increased after the ban, and didn’t increase in any case, as the gun-lovers would have us believe. Moreover, in some cases the faster decline was statistically significant.  The report then, is heartening but not decisive. It certainly gives us no cause to think that if a Western nation suddenly tightened its gun policies, gun-related deaths would rise.

First, the facts (all quotes from the paper):

In 1996, Australia’s state and federal governments introduced sweeping uniform gun laws that were progressively implemented in all 6 states and 2 territories between June 1996 and August 1998. The enactment of these laws followed a massacre on April 28, 1996, in which a man used 2 semiautomatic rifles to kill 35 people and wound 19 others. The new gun laws banned rapid-fire long guns (including those already in private ownership), explicitly to reduce their availability for mass shootings.

In addition, by January 1, 1997, all 8 governments commenced a mandatory buyback at market price of prohibited firearms. As of August 2001, 659 940 newly prohibited semiautomatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns had been purchased by the federal government from their civilian owners at market value, funded by a one-off levy on income tax, and destroyed.  From October 1, 1997, large criminal penalties, including imprisonment and heavy fines, applied to possession of any prohibited weapon.

During a second firearm buyback in 2003, 68 727 handguns were collected and destroyed. Thousands of gun owners also voluntarily surrendered additional, nonprohibited firearms without compensation, and since 1996 thousands more privately owned firearms are known to have been surrendered, seized, and melted down.

The trends. The authors looked at overall suicide and homicide fatalities, and then separated them into those involving guns and those not involving guns. (They also gave separate and combined data for suicides and homicides.) I’ll show the trends only for the data separated by whether or not they involved firearms, leaving out the combined (firearm + nonfirearm) deaths:


You can see that both suicides and homicides involving firearms were already decreasing before the ban (vertical line), while suicides and homicides not involving firearms were either increasing or steady. In the latter case, though, both kinds of deaths decreased after the gun ban, suggesting that better medical care, increased cellphone use, or other factors were involved.

Here are the statistical analyses:


The column to look at is the P values in the RT column (ratio of trends happening before and after gun control; “RL” looks for a step change occurring in 1996). You can see that in every case (5 out of 5 non”total” cases involving separated firearm and nonfirearm deaths: rows 2-4 and 6-7 in Table 3), the death rates declined more steeply after than before gun laws. That alone is nearly statistically significant, but remember that two of these statistics are deaths not involving firearms. In one analysis of firearm deaths—suicide—the drop was significantly steeper after 1996, and for all homicides it was almost significant (p = 0.06). But the drops in non-firearm deaths also accelerated after 1996, which again may reflect other factors (including, in the case of suicide, better prevention techniques).

Largely because of the contribution from fewer suicides, the rate of decrease in total firearm deaths, involving both suicides and non-suicides, was larger after gun control than before. All of this shows that easy access to firearms, at least in Australia, seemed to promote more suicides than homicides.

What’s the lesson? As I said, it’s a bit problematic because of other factors, factors that could be reflected in a decrease in nonfirearm deaths as well. Nevertheless, there are no data here suggesting that firearm deaths will increase after guns are largely banned. In other words, these data show that such a ban is worth trying, as there appears to be no downside.

Ideally, we’d want more data from other countries, but we can’t get it from the one country everyone’s concerned about: the U.S. Until the Supreme Court interprets the Second Amendment correctly, and the legislature gets the moxie to buck the National Rifle Association and enact meaningful gun laws, we simply won’t know what will happen in the U.S. if we followed Australia’s lead. The data above, however, suggest that we should.


Chapman, S., P. Alpers, and M. Jones. 2016. Association between gun law reforms and intentional firearm deaths in Australia, 1979-2013. J. Am. Medical Association. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.8752 Published online June 22, 2016.


  1. GBJames
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink


  2. Robert Seidel
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    There was a recent article in Scientific American from a Colombian mayor, who banned both guns, and alcohol after 2 AM on weekends, for all nightclubs in his jurisdiction. Homicide rates dropped by 30% almost immediately.

  3. Jonathan Livengood
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    It seems strange to fit a line to the 1996 and forward data in C. Those data don’t look linear to me. Just eyeballing it, it looks like something happened to decrease the number of nonfirearm suicides in the late 90s and then (basically) the old rate of increase returned around 2002.

  4. Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    For the love of god, N*ssim Taleb should read this and weep.

  5. Paul Beard
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    In a stark contrast with the USA gun bans were implemented in the UK with little opposition in general although gun homicides as a cause of death were comparable to lightning strike and drowning in a swimming pool.

    Interestingly the two events which provided the opportunity to bring in bans (mass shootings at Hungerford and Dunblane)

    • Paul Beard
      Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      sorry wrong button……

      The shootings were both a failure of the licencing process. The killers were identified by other shooters as unstable but not by the police who granted the licenses.

  6. ladyatheist
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    If we could at least have reliable studies done, which the NRA has blocked! If they are so sure that criminals would continue to commit crimes with or without more gun restrictions, what are they afraid of?

    • gary
      Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      My main reason for not being a member.

      • Wunold
        Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Opposed to what reasons *for* a membership?

        Just curious, because I wouldn’t mention reasons for not being a member of an organisation if there weren’t reasons for being a member in the first place.

  7. Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    There may be all sorts of flaws in these statistical tests, but it’s not rocket science that if there are no guns then you’re unlikely to be shot.

    • Craw
      Posted June 26, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      This is an excellent point, but not in the way you perhaps think. The derivative when total guns = 0 might be very different from the derivative when total guns = 300 million. Arguments that assume gun control does away with guns are problematic for just that reason. If there were no guns to start a ban might make it hard for the murderous to get a gun. With 300 million about no law will make it very hard for the determined to get a gun.

      • Wunold
        Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        But a ban would hinder new weapons to replace the ones lost. Over the decades the total number would naturally dwindle.

  8. Dick Veldkamp
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I think it is not exactly right to say there has been only one experiment (Australia). Policies in every country may be considered to be an experiment. The conclusion? More restrictive gun laws go with fewer gun deaths.

  9. skiptic
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Wouldn’t it be meaningful to include for comparison a chart of the violent crime rate during this time period? The downward trend might be a partly a result of an overall drop in crime.

  10. Larry Cook
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know but I’m going to find out if my suspicion that we have a much higher crime rate here in the U.S. than they have in Australia, particularly in violent crimes is true or not. I think it probably is and that leads me to also think that the study in Australia, even if it was conclusive, doesn’t predict the outcome of such legislation in the U.S. I think our violent crime rate would plummet if we ever enacted similar laws. But I also think that handguns are the biggest problem and getting rid of them has to be the biggest part of the solution. In fact, I think we would go a very long way toward solving our violent crime problems by banning handguns and all automatic weapons and allowing everyone to keep their single shot rifles. That may be an easier avenue to go down in an attempt to pass legislation to stop gun violence.

  11. Rob
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Oh, did crime rum rampant because citizens were no longer able to defend themselves?

    • Ben
      Posted June 26, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Good summary WEIT, stats always depend on what the research chooses to measure and leave out, but the trend is pretty clear. I support your proposed solution for the U.S. It makes sense, as will become apparent if research on this issue becomes feasible again.

  12. rickflick
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Sam Harris had held that banning guns in the U.S. is impractical because of the huge numbers of weapons already in circulation. If true, a gun ban now might not see significant results for a very long time. Still, it would be the right thing to do. I’m for a rewrite of the 2nd amendment to dampen the high strung fetishism for guns we see in the culture. Owning a gun should not be seen as patriotic.

    • Wunold
      Posted June 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      I concur with you. A long time frame isn’t an convincing argument against starting it right now, because the same could’ve been said for slavery back in the times where it was common throughout the U.S. (or the world, even further into the past).

    • morganstorey
      Posted June 26, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      We still have loads of guns in circulation here. But it is simple economics. The people who have them have had them for years and are unlikely to use them in a crime. The people who want a weapon for a crime due to supply being so low have to pay more. So they tend to be used in crimes where there is a large pay off… and it gets larger every year. So 7/11 roberies don’t happen with guns anymore, neither do muggings, even most bank robberies are no longer guns. Yes it will take time, but the cost of weapons will become so high that like here even hits will be done with modified rifles and shotguns, rather than paramilitary assault riffles and sub-machine guns.

  13. Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Methodologically, it seems the authors corrected for overdispersion (variance larger than the mean) of the count data by utilizing negative binomial regression to fit their “crude” models. The models are crude because they didn’t adjust for factors such as age and sex that could confound the association between gun law and death. Panel C (nonfirearm suicide deaths) in their figure actually does depict an INCREASE in non-gun suicide immediately following the law. However, a strikingly reassuring point for policy makers is that this spike was temporary and quickly tapered off. Policy makers would want to know the demographics of the people in which the spike occurred to implement actions to minimize the impact in these groups. This is why the gag on the CDC needs to be revoked.

    What is not known from these observational findings are the potentially unmeasured factors accounting for the decline in nonfirearm suicides and homicides in the 1997 onward period, though it is possible that the gun laws did have an (indirect) pacifying effect on violence in general. Whatever the case, this paper comports with what Steve Pinker has written.

  14. Steve Pollard
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    There has been a considerable clampdown by police forces across the UK on illegal firearms over the past 30 years or so. It is actually very difficult for criminals to get, keep and use guns. The current per capita gun-related homicide rate in the US is 30x that in the UK. Go figure.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 26, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      I think one of the things the pro-gun lobby in the US ignore is that the place criminals get their guns is by stealing, straw purchases, or other illegal means from legal gun owners. They insist criminals will always get firearms, but they can’t if they’re not available.

      Imo the large number of guns in circulation makes a ban impractical but there are things that could be done.

      1. Gun owners should be registered and licenced. The NRA blocks this idea, as do civil rights groups.

      2. There should be an effective background check.

      3. Only registered and approved dealers can sell guns. Guns cannot be given as gifts to others or sold except via registered dealers.

      4. Laws against straw purchases should be enforced.

      5. When a person is convicted of a crime that would mean they would fail a background check to buy a firearm, any firearm they own should be confiscated.

      6. Training in the use etc of firearms is required to get a licence, similar to driving a car.

      7. More statistics need to be collected. This is also blocked by the NRA. Also because of the NRA, a paediatrician is not allowed to ask parents about guns in the home and advise on safety measures around children.

      I’m sure others can come up with other or better ideas.

      • keith cook + / -
        Posted June 26, 2016 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

        ‘Why AM I’
        What determines our personality, health, wealth and happiness? In 1972 the Otago University Medical School (NZ) embarked on the ultimate nature/nurture test, to study 1037 babies for their entire lives.
        4 parts, each about 40mins long. I have done the first two to date.

        There is certainly more to it and this is an understatement, than just gun control and of course this is obvious but how and why needs to be told. The first episode shows how self control has a correlation with criminal behaviours. The second delves into ‘off the rail’ kids and the long term consequences.
        In one segment the availability of guns does rear it’s ugly head in a comparison between the deadly use of guns in the US and their unavailability in NZ for young offenders.
        From that I get, if you do not remedy the root causes for any sort of violence nothing will change. If violent offenders had guns in NZ they will use them and I include that to also mean, suicide.

        It is interesting that they commenced a parallel study in the US partly because they could not except the findings from this longitudinal study.
        Prof(E) there is a connection with Chicago University in this famous study and long reaching implications for the US justice system.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 26, 2016 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t watch this on TV, but you’ve piqued my interest! I will now.

          • keith cook + / -
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            It may sound like I’m cozying up to the NRA but it is people who use these weapons and in this study it shows you can avert children, not all and recognise traits leading to a criminal life. This includes domestic violence, theft and drug addiction.
            I think it could be a mechanism to changing or directing while young to avoid going bad, making a career of crime and a rear guard action alongside gun laws.
            As the above shows taking guns out of the system has an impact and you and I know what it means to live where guns are just not out there. I was shocked by a colleague who declared of her violent husband at the time, “if I had had a gun I would have shot him”
            This tells me it is humans and their behaviours that are at the core and we need to explore other means other than taking away peoples’ rights, a slippery slope, to changing the way we think.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

              The thing is though that the NRA won’t even have that conversation. There’s evidence that children with no front fence are less likely to run out into the road than those that do because they understand the dangers. Still, parents sometimes need to be taught how to teach their children. The NRA is so defensive and are such ideologues that they refuse statistics be collected or conversations to occur.

              So I acknowledge what you’re saying and don’t think you’re cuddling up to the NRA. We have a different attitude to guns in NZ, and I think the fact that we don’t consider them a constitutional right makes all the difference.

      • Richard Bond
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 5:39 am | Permalink

        On feature of gun law in the UK that is rarely mentioned on this web site is that mere possession of an unauthorised gun is in itself a very serious offence. Moreover, carrying a gun, even a licensed one, while committing another offence dramatically increases the likely jail term. Consequently, even “professional” criminals tend to avoid guns. Similar provisions in any clampdown on guns in the USA would help to take weapons out of circulation.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          Yes, excellent point.

        • mordacious1
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          It is interesting that any move to increase sentencing in the US for using guns to commit crimes, or having a gun in your possession while committing a crime, is supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm has been pushing for stricter sentences for gun crimes. His own party is against him on this issue. They feel that its unfair that black males, who commit most of the gun crimes in that city, are already disproportionately spending too much time in jail and that lengthening their sentences would be unfair and racist.

          This is why we can’t have nice things.

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

            It is interesting that any move to increase sentencing in the US for using guns to commit crimes, or having a gun in your possession while committing a crime, is supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.

            Which is why it was the Dems who recently held a “sit-in” in Congress on behalf of greater gun control?

            Are there examples of your first sentence aside from Chicago?

            (PS–I agree that the reasoning you describe is absurd!)

  15. Derek Freyberg
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Heather Hastie or someone else resident in New Zealand can weigh in, but …
    when I was a child there, say 50 years ago, handguns (barrel less than 12″) were very difficult to get, but rifles and shotguns were easy, and that includes semi-automatic weapons. Firearms-related crime was all but nonexistent. Licensing has tightened a lot since then – since the late 1990s, I believe, but as I understand it (from my brother who still lives there), semi-automatic rifles and pump shotguns are still permissible, though not with large magazines. Still, to the extent I see it from California, very little firearms-related crime.
    The NZ pattern does not/did not, as far as I can see, parallel Australia.
    I think the incidence of firearms-related violence goes to issues well beyond mere availability of weapons.

    And, as I understand it, there are a number of European countries with gun laws that are more liberal than those of the UK, yet I do not believe that there is a high incidence of gun-related crime there.

  16. grasshopper
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I seem to recall that the Australian Federal Police did not destroy every gun obtained through the buy-back scheme. Some were subsequently exported. I am afraid that the Google Facilitated Hazy-Memory Recovery app has not helped me find more specific info. Perhaps someone else could help in that regard.

  17. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Australia is significantly different to to the US.

    It has always been difficult to get a handgun in Australia.

    It has never been the case that anyone could get a handgun for personal defense.
    If anyone put that as a reason on a licence application, it would immediately be denied.

    The number of handguns bought back was due to restricting caliber and barrel length in club sanctioned target shooting.

    It is totally different to the US.

    But that doesn’t mean restricting self loading high powered guns with large magazines hasn’t had an effect.

  18. drew
    Posted June 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    There is one statistic that I don’t see.

    What happens to the fraction of the total homicides/suicides which are gun related?

    The decrease in non-firearm related homicides is more sharp than the decrease in firearm related homicides. It all depends on the relative proportions and the numbers are hard to make out with any sort of certainty, but it looks like it may be that if you’re going to be the victim of homicide, you’re more likely to die by firearm after the ban than you were before the ban.

    The same sort of thing appears like it may be the case with suicides as well.

    I’m also curious about the non-lethal crime statistics. What about the incidence armed robbery?

  19. madscientist
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    I would say that since the percentage of people in the general population who would go nuts and murder multiple people is pretty small to begin with, the results are probably far more significant than people might imagine. With far fewer people allowed access to guns, assuming that the likelihood that any particular gun owner goes on a rampage remains unchanged, the likely incidence of mass murders decreases proportionately. The other thing that must be considered of course, are the number of legally owned guns used in attacks by the gun owners or people with normal access to those legally acquired guns. Discriminating in that way would give us some idea of how the new laws actually affect suicides and murders and leave out criminals with unlawful access to guns.

  20. Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    “…to the British system, in which private ownership of handguns is prohibited and rifles can be owned only for sports shooting or hunting—and under strict licensing…”

    Some handguns are not prohibited (called ‘Section 5’). Black powder handguns are still on the table (Section 1) as are long-barrelled handguns (minimum 12″ barrel). It is worth noting that in Northern Ireland, where they have their own system, they have kept modern handguns. Also, we have a lot of shotguns, not on the list.

    In fact, apart from large calibre semi-automatic rifles and modern handguns, in the UK we have exactly the same guns as in the US. Just more expensive. for no very apparent reason.

  21. aspidoscelis
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    I think something gets lost in discussions of gun control and violence. Well, I think a lot of things get lost, or quite intentionally overlooked, on both sides. But I’ll just mention the one.

    Presumably our goal is to reduce homicide rates, or rates of violent crime generally. So, how, when, and why did we decide that gun control laws are the way, and on the left very nearly the only way, to do that? What’s the evidence? What are the other options? Where do gun control laws rank compared to those other options, in terms of both positive effect and political feasibility?

    It’s kind of striking to me, in the figures included above, that there’s a whole lot of variation in homicide rates over time, and most of it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with gun control laws. So, what explains most of the variation?

  22. Geoffrey Howe
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    PCC expresses a sentiment that I find bothersome from gun control advocates. For reference, I am not anti-gun control. I really have no strong opinion on this. But it’s a claim that I find faulty, and it’s fault claims like this that is why I’m not persuaded to being on the more leftist position on gun control.

    He talks about the Second Amendment being interpretted correctly, which will lead to more gun control. But as far as I can tell, it IS being interpretted correctly.

    As I understand it, the question as to whether the amendment should read “The rights of the Milita to bear firearms…” or “The rights of the People to bear firearms…” was actually considered back during the writing of the Constitution, with the more universal option being finally accepted.

    Because while it may sound crazy for gun owners to talk about rising up against the government… that is almost certainly what the Second Amendment was for.

    The people of America had just finished a violent uprising against their government, using firearms. As we often say, “Freedom (of speech) for me, but not for thee” doesn’t really count. They would have seen it as hypocritcal to support an armed uprising against a government, but to deny the ability for the people to have an armed uprising against themselves.

    As such, I think the 2nd Amendment is being interpreted just fine.

    Now, if you want to say “But it’s been over 200 years since then, and things have changed a lot” then that is fine. But that’s a case for changing the second amendment, not for interpretting it differently. I really dislike the de facto state of affairs where our justice will vote their affiliation on political issues, rather than the actual law. However, I have no problem with the idea of just plain old changing the law. That is why we have amendments in the first place, even if it means amending an amendment.

    I feel that attacking the current interpretations of the Second Amendment is a bad place to be, because I don’t think it’s an argument gun control advocates can win. The battle should be kept to the question of “Should we change the Second Amendment”, because that’s a subject much more open for debate.

    • Larry Cook
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      This is the most insightful comment here and you have provided the best explanation for the way the second amendment is interpreted that I’ve ever read. Many sensible people from countries other than the U.S. have given their opinion here on what the U.S. should do in order to control guns and violent crime. A few of them even suggested that we simply change the second amendment. Perhaps they are not aware of the process that would involve as well as the high regard Americans have for the first amendments, the Bill of Rights. Yes, they can be changed, but since they are held as close to sacred as a law can be held, it would take a movement of people with intense anti-gun feelings in two-thirds of the states to begin to change it. The government can’t change the second amendment any other way and the government doesn’t begin the process. Perhaps eight years of Hillary will put enough ultra-liberal judges on the Supreme Court to phony-up its interpretation of the second amendment to something it has never been.

    • mordacious1
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Larry that your comment is spot on and well written. This is a problem that the gun banning folks have, it takes 3/4 of the states at the federal level or 2/3 of state legislatures to change the Constitution. Currently, the majority of Americans support the right of Americans to own guns, so it is not going to happen anytime soon. But I do think that SCOTUS will re-write (by interpretation) the 2nd Amendment and this will piss Americans off…as it should. Maybe SCOTUS will next re-interpret the 1st Amendment, what’s to stop them?

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree with you about the inappropriateness of the gun control lobbies trying to stress the “well-regulated militia” part of the second amendment over the “right of the people to bear arms” part.

      FWIW, what I doubt the government gave much thought to in the BoR is what the term “firearms” would grow to include. How could they know? Given the great metastization of firearms since, it’s hard to know what the framers would have thought about our current predicament.

    • jeremyp
      Posted June 28, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

      That doesn’t look like it was meant for rising up against the government, but for maintaining the security of the state (which is run by the government) against external threats or other internal threats.

      It doesn’t matter, the Second Amendment is obsolete anyway. The USA now has a comprehensive set of extremely powerful organisations to defend the security of the free state and if they were ever used against the free state, the idea that militias with AR15’s could stop them is a joke.

  23. Itsnotme
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I live in Texas. In the early 1990s, there was a mass shooting here. 20 plus individuals were killed in a public eating establishment in Killeen. At that time, it was highly illegal for any citizen to be carrying a concealed weapon. Fighting back effectively,in other words, would have been a felony.
    In response to that event, in the mid 90s laws were passed to provide a path for adults with impeccable records to carry concealed weapons. It has worked very well. Crime/murder rates in Texas have plummeted by half. There have been no comparable mass shootings (except for Ft. Hood where Texas law did not apply).
    Keep in mind, Texas has almost the same size population as Oz and, significantly, most people live in cities.
    There are almost a million license holders now.Law enforcement generally supports it (for reasons too complicated to explain to anyone who does not live here).
    Oh, the AR 15 rifle is by far the most common type here. No one knows how many there are, but it must be more than a million. They are virtually never used in crime. They are superb for hunting feral hogs with from helicoptors.
    These are some facts of which people here are very aware and very proud. Similar evolutions have occurred in most parts of the US over the same time period.
    Anyone who expects to be taken seriously in the gun control debate over here cannot simply ignore them or pretend ignorance.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Who knew that the reason so many AR-15s are sold comes down the enormous popularity of hunting feral hogs from helicopters.

      I think I’ve heard it all now.

      • drew
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        I’m not a Texan but I’ve got family that live in Galveston. Apparently, hunting feral hogs from helicopters is an enormously popular pastime down there. There are so many feral hogs in Texas that you’re encouraged to shoot as many as you can, whenever you can.

        They’re actually a huge problem. Texas A&M estimates the damage that feral hogs do nationally at around $1.5 billion and puts the number of hogs removed from the wild at around 753,000 per year.

      • drew
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        Reply2 Also, I make no claim as to the veracity of the other points in the original comment, nor support the veracity of anything other than that hunting hogs from helicopters is very popular.

        • GBJames
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          And how common is flying helicopters by the general public in Texas?

          I don’t think “very popular” means the same thing to you as it does to me.

          • drew
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

            Actually there are several companies that own helicopters and employ pilots for said helicopters and take people out in said helicopters wherein they can sit by an open door and shoot feral hogs running in the fields.

            These companies are booked solid all of the time.

            A quick google check finds a company that does this for $1250 a person per hour (2 hour minimum).

            Now think about Texas.

            How many people do you think are willing to save that much money to spend it for shooting fully automatic rifles out of a moving helicopter?

            You also have to keep in mind that people come from around the country for this sort of thing too.

            Even if the overall number of people who are able to afford doing this is relatively small, the fact that there are a bunch of companies offering packages for this and there are significant waiting lists for their services equals “very popular” in my mind.

            • GBJames
              Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

              Like I said, you don’t think that word means what I think it means. “Very popular” to me, in the context of this thread, would be enough to substantially account for the proliferation of AR-15s and similar weapons in the US. A handful of companies charging $1250 per hour to shoot wild pigs from the air doesn’t qualify, IMO.

              • drew
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink


                I was just pointing out that the activity is very popular. I thought it was understood, particularly from my second addition (which was the one you replied to) that I wasn’t trying to support any claims made by the first poster other than to let you know that this is, in fact, a very popular activity (or so I’ve heard).

                It seemed to me that your first response seemed incredulous that people in Texas ride in helicopters and shoot feral pigs. I misplaced your incredulity.

              • GBJames
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

                People misunderstanding each other on the Internet? Who could imagine! 😉

            • mordacious1
              Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

              I’m willing to bet that not one hog has been shot by “fully automatic rifles out of a moving helicopter” in Texas or anywhere else in the US, unless the military has been doing it just for the giggles.

              • aspidoscelis
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink


              • mordacious1
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, except that doesn’t appear to be a “machine gun” as the video claims. I’d say it’s a semi-automatic rifle with a bump stock. It is possible to still get a fully automatic rifle permit, but it’s expensive and takes forever. That being said, there is a slight chance that this company has a permit (and is possibly the only one with that set up). Automatic weapons are extremely rare in the US outside of the military.

              • aspidoscelis
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

                The company in question advertises that they have automatic rifle rentals available (although you’re right that “machine gun” isn’t the appropriate term here). The first page of google results for those search terms includes two other companies offering automatic rifles, as well.

                I’m not saying shooting feral hogs from helicopters with automatic rifles is a good idea, a common practice, or in any way relevant to gun control arguments. But it does happen and it only takes a quick google search to confirm this.

              • drew
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

              • mordacious1
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

                Okay, RE the video posted above. These guys I’ve seen before and I don’t see it as a bad thing. You can pay a fee and go fire machine guns at a range under supervision. Firing a Ma Deuce is fun and no one has one in their closet for home defense. So why not? First time I’ve heard of them going airborne to shoot hogs though. IMO, if you want to fire off machine guns, join the military. They have MOS’s where you can do that a lot and get paid (warning: the targets in the military eventually shoot back).

      • rickflick
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        I’d like to nickname AR-15 the “pig gun”.

      • Larry Cook
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Maybe you should find out about the feral pig problem in the U.S. before exercising your irritating sarcasm.

        • GBJames
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          And in return I’d suggest you study up on the proliferation of AK-15 style weapons where no feral pigs live.

          Accounting for the ubiquitous availability of these weapons due to aerial slaughter of wild swine is, frankly, absurdity on the grand scale. It only demonstrates the hopelessness of trying to get gun advocates to address the real national crisis. (Hint: it isn’t wild pigs.)

          • mordacious1
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

            …and it isn’t AR-15’s. In 2014, the FBI reported that 284 people were killed by all rifles, including AR-15. In that same year, 3,827 people were either stabbed or beaten to death. Handguns are the major cause of firearm deaths, not semi-automatic rifles.

            • GBJames
              Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

              Another gun fan wants the argument to be about the classification of miscellaneous weapons. Sorry, this isn’t a problem of nomenclature. And note the use of the word “style” in my previous comment.

              Which is not to say that the ubiquitous availability of handguns isn’t ALSO a big problem. Shall we argue about the definition of the word handgun now?

              • mordacious1
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

                “Style” does not change my comment, since I gave statistics for ALL rifles. The AR-15 is not “a real national crisis”, except for the fact that they look scary to people like you.

              • GBJames
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

                Again, people who think this issue revolves around weapon system classification have completely missed the point.

                As for me, I believe this is purposeful and represents nothing but a refusal to acknowledge that they place their gun fetish in higher priority than the tens of thousands of people who die every hear from bullets fired from their toys.

    • HBB
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      A quick Google search on “mass shootings in Texas” led to a Texas Observer article noting that there were 24 mass shootings (four or more people shot in each indecent)in 2015. I’m guessing all the gun-toting “good guys” who would have stopped the carnage were buzzing around Dallas/Ft Worth air space in choppers looking for feral hogs to shoot. Also, “crime/murder rate” is too imprecise for the point you are trying to make. Please cite the supposed decline in terms of declines in fire arm-related murders (and suicides). Then maybe you have a prayer at arguing that Texas is safer with more guns.

      • Itsnotmr
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        There is a. so much to unpack. I will start with this. A mass shooting that is part of a war between gangs of drug traffickers is a very different thing than a crazy person slaughtering complete strangers. At least I see it that way. Preventing them requires a different spproach. This matters because whenever the media deals with this they count them the same. The shootings you refer to were gang warfare related. I am at work, this must be short. The thing is, I doubt anyone here has ever heard anything about the changes in gun laws and the results in flyover USA. Nor heard why AR 15s are so poular.There is a world out there that the media ignors. More sources to follow

        • HBB
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

          Well, I don’t concede that there are at least two kinds of mass shootings: gang-related ones and deranged gunman ones. IMO, a mass shooting as defined – 4 victims per event – is adequate. But let’s go with your categorization for the time being. I would presume that in a gang “war” both sides are armed. This situation appears to meet your criterion for safety against gun violence – more armed people make for a safer Texas. How does that work out for the warring gangs? Are there fewer casualties as the percentage of armed gang members increases? I bet if neither side had guns, there would be fewer deaths during to these encounters.

          • itsnotm
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

            :”Texas Crime Rates” from the diasaster center.
            “Why concealed carry could not have caused the two decade dip in crime rates” from The Trace.
            The first is a government sourced presentation of the rate per 100,000 for various crimes over the last 30 years. Note the murder rate falling by ~ half since 1996 – the onset of concealed carry.
            The second is from a gun unfriendly source. Note that they concede that violent crime has been dipping nicely.
            Keep in mind that millions of guns of the types the Auzzies banned were bought by Americans over this period.
            Look, I do not claim to understand cause vs effect. I just know that most parts of the US took an opposite approach than Oz and ended up with the same trends.
            Also, no one claims that compliance with the new laws in Oz were especially high. Maybe in the 20-30% range. Thus, large numbers of honest folk got “reclassified.”
            For the record, I did not say AR 15s are bought primarily to hunt hogs from helicopters. I merely said they were superb at the task. Which they are.
            Actually, they are nowadays the most accurate and versatile rifle one can buy. People who can afford them prize them highly.

          • itsnotme
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Scientists agree that the best way to prevent being killed in a gang war is to stay out of a gang.
            Indeed, people who do not live in the US often grossly under-estimate just how concentrated gun mischief is into a just few neighborhoods.
            In the neighborhoods where some guys (cough) rent time with “The Helihunters” (great video btw) and collect high end AR 15s costing as much as a car there is essentially no gun crime (apart from suicides).
            To get anywhere with the gun control argument, convince guys like me that it should be a crime to own the most prized rifle in America.

  24. Richard C
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I’m glad this study includes non-gun homicide and suicide rates. Focusing on the decline of only gun-related deaths when talking about reducing the number of guns available to the public is almost a tautology.

    Seeing that *all* homicides goes down makes for much better evidence.

  25. Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    It seems plausible that this would at least sort of refute the notion that banning firearms will *increase* certain sorts of violence.

  26. Jay
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m impressed by the step-change in total firearm deaths. An immediate 33% drop in firearm deaths immediately following the implementation of the law is remarkable.

  27. Wayne Tyson
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:53 pm | Permalink


    “What we have here is a failure to communicate” –Strother Martin’s character in the film, “Cool Hand Luke.” In a disciplined and fully-informed way

    Smarmy exchanges of opinion is beneath the dignity of “scientists.”

    What is needed here is a set of ALL relevant statistics. Cherry-picking is not science, and correlation, however impressive (and a good place to start), is not necessarily causation.

    Once said complete and relevant data are available, then, an honest discussion can begin.

  28. Wunold
    Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    They feel that its unfair that black males, who commit most of the gun crimes in that city, are already disproportionately spending too much time in jail and that lengthening their sentences would be unfair and racist.

    Isn’t the implication that stricter sentences for gun crimes would hurt black males more also racist in that view?

    It seems like an objection against speeding tickets because black drivers are stopped by the police more often, instead of asking why the latter is happening and doing something against that.

    • Wunold
      Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:27 am | Permalink

      Sorry, the first paragraph belongs to mordacious1.

      How do I do the ident of quotes here?

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:45 am | Permalink

        I use:

        quoted material here

        (Take out all the spaces within the brackets.)

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:53 am | Permalink

          LOL–why is it that the only html that WP “corrects” is that that’s purposefully typed wrong?

          OK, in words:

          Start with a “less than” bracket, then type “blockquote” (but without the quote marks), followed by a “greater than” bracket. Then type or paste in the material to be quoted. then repeat the former at the end of the quote but add a backslash between the less-than bracket and the word blockquote.

          Do your best, WP!

  29. Wunold
    Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:02 am | Permalink


    quoted material here

    I tried “less than” p class=block “greater than”. WP filters that out completely.


    • Wunold
      Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:06 am | Permalink

      And why does WP sometimes append my posts to the quoted ones and sometimes it doesn’t? D’oh!

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 28, 2016 at 2:10 am | Permalink

        Little known secret–WP is actually God. You are not propitiating Her correctly.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 28, 2016 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      I tried “less than” p class=block “greater than”. WP filters that out completely

      I missed your original problem (I read the paper and mailed about it to PCC, so haven’t read the comments in any depth). But I got the above by
      [blockquote]I tried “less than” p class=block “greater than”. WP filters that out completely[/blockquote]
      (substituting square brackets for angle brackets)

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 28, 2016 at 2:08 am | Permalink

        Ah, much better illustration, thanks.

      • Wunold
        Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        This was my original problem.

        It is solved now, my thanks to Diane and you. 🙂

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