Australia provides compelling real-world evidence that fewer available guns correlates with a significant reduction in deaths by suicide, and also by gun violence.
In 1996, Martin Bryant opened fire on visitors at the Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania, killing 35 people and injuring 23. For Australians, that tragedy marked a turning point. People of all political slants supported a ban against semi-automatic shotguns and rifles. In a matter of days, new legislation was enacted. The government purchased newly-banned firearms at fair market value and then destroyed them, reducing Australia’s civilian gun stockpile by 30%. New Zealand has just duplicated this process in response to a similar atrocity in Wellington.
The result of that 1996 ban was that the risk of dying by gunshot in Australia has been statistically reduced by more than 50%, and in the more than 20 years since then has shown no sign of creeping up again. Suicide was a big part of that drop: up to 80% of gun suicides no longer happened.
Critics in the US often argue that murderers would just find another way to kill their victims, that didn’t happen in Australia. Instead, non-gun homicides remained roughly the same.
The US is unexceptional in its overall level of most types of crime: it’s about average when compared to the UK, Western Europe, Japan and other developed nations. However, when it comes to homicides, the US rate is about four times higher. That’s because it’s much more likely a gun will be used in an assault, which increases the risk of death by a factor of seven.
A 2017 study revealed that firearm homicide rates are lower in the US states with stricter gun laws. In addition, a 2014 analysis of all minors admitted to hospitals for trauma linked tighter firearm control to greater safety for children.
Guns also make interactions with the police deadlier. While the probability of an arrest resulting in some injury is the same in the US, British Columbia and Western Australia, research shows that almost no one dies during an arrest in Australia or Canada even though police in both carry guns. In the US, however, nearly 1,000 citizens are annually killed by police.
The evidence is clear, less guns means less homicides and suicides.
The problem in the US is the influence of the NRA.
Texas legislators, heavily sponsored by the NRA, have just passed ten bills making the carrying and use of guns even easier. Now you can carry a gun into church, into schools and landlords can no longer have a clause in their rental contracts that prohibits guns on their properties. What sort of madness is that?
We are fighting a religion, and experience through the ages has shown, that logical persuasion is futile in the face of faith just as it is in today’s religious conflicts.
How many more people have to die before someone in the US wakes up? Unfortunately, probably thousands!