This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 13, 2017:
A series of referendums from 1898 to 1900 led to the ratification of Australia’s constitution, which became effective on January 1, 1901. Unfortunately, the idea of adding a Bill of Rights similar to those contained in the United States Constitution was voted down, with the majority holding that the traditional rights of British subjects were sufficient to keep the national government in check. Some rights are included, including the right to trial by jury, the right to just compensation for government’s “acquisition” of private property, the freedom of religion, the freedom of “political” communication, and the right to vote. Missing are explicit guarantees of the freedom of association, the freedom of assembly, and the Second Amendment.
Also missing from the country is the National Rifle Association or anything like the “gun” culture present in the United States.
That’s why, following the ghastly atrocity known as the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, it was fairly easy for the national government to pass the National Firearms Agreement (NFA). The NFA is a draconian set of rules that strictly limits the ability of Aussies to get permission to own a firearm, as well as possess popular firearms such as semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns.
When the law passed, it automatically turned the owners of some 3.2 million firearms into criminals. But the government offered a way out: a “buyback” of the now-offending weaponry, using taxpayer dollars to “compensate” their owners for the government’s “acquisition” of the former private property. And it offered a “no questions asked” policy: a “stay out of jail” card if they would just give up a little bit of their freedom.
By the time the buyback was completed a year later, the government had confiscated 660,000 firearms, and destroyed them.
That left 2.4 million in private hands – hands that belonged to people who didn’t have the protection of the Second Amendment, but who did know that somehow their natural rights to provide for their own personal protection had been violated, and they knew the government didn’t have a “Buckley’s chance” of enforcing the mandate.
Now the island’s national government is going to give it another try. Last week Justice Minister Michael Keenan told the Sunday Mail: “This is the first Australia-wide gun amnesty program since 1996, when the Howard government took action following the devastation of the Port Arthur Massacre.”
The first go was a bust: not only did the vast majority of Aussies keep their firearms, the rate of violent crime, which was supposed to go down (which was the shtick used to cover the plan’s real intent), didn’t. A study in 2002 headed up by Professor Peter Reuter at the Department of Criminology at the University of Maryland, “Australia: A Massive Buyback of Low-Risk Guns” proved the futility of the buyback program.
The report analyzed the available data to see if there was any measurable decline in violent crime in the years following the buyback, and when it couldn’t, it pointed out the futility of the effort: “The buyback alone was an implausible candidate for reducing crime rates because the targeted gun type was one not much used in homicides or, presumably, other kinds of violent crime.” The report concluded: “the results provide little insight.”
In other words millions were spent in abrogating the natural rights of Australian citizens, going after weapons that weren’t even being used in violent crime!
Keenan, if he is smart, should check how Seattle’s buyback program worked in 1992. Its buyback program was implemented following a series of shootings in a local neighborhood. Two years later a study concluded its futility: “Money for Guns: Evaluation of the Seattle Gun Buy-Back Program,” paid for by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three professors, one from the University of Rochester and two from the University of Washington, analyzed the available data, and uncovered some interesting facts:
1,772 firearms were purchased by the city, 95 percent of which were handguns, only 83 percent of which were operational;
A “surprising” number of older citizens and women participated in the buyback, “apparently exchanging guns they no longer wanted”; and
The handguns collected “represented less than 1 percent of handguns in Seattle homes.”
The professors concluded that “the effect of removing 1 percent of guns from the community on rates of firearm crimes is negligible [and that] the Seattle buyback program failed to reduce significantly the frequency of firearm injuries, deaths, or crimes.”
There were, as usual, some unintended consequences of the Seattle buyback program. The program likely encouraged the theft of handguns in the Seattle area by criminals who then sold them to the city. It likely encouraged criminals to turn in guns that had been used in crimes as a way to dispose of them without the risk of criminal prosecution. When lines formed of people waiting to turn in their guns for compensation, buyers showed up offering them a better deal, turning the event into “an open air bazaar” according to observers. This eliminated any need, of course, for a background check.
Even without the Second Amendment, the equivalent of the NRA, or even a pro-gun “culture” like America’s, Aussies knew they were being taken for a ride back in 1996. They knew when their natural rights were being violated, and they know when they’re about to be violated again, with the same outcome likely.
Australian slang: Buckley’s chance
BearingArms.com: Australia Admits Gun Buyback Failure, Announces Amnesty