Series 2 Promo – Gun Control
November 3, 2017
Gun Control 2.2
November 10, 2017
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The first episode of our series on gun control and gun violence in four countries – Australia, UK, Canada and USA. We’ll explore the history of each country and look at the evidence as to whether or not gun control has lead to less gun homicides, less mass shootings, and lower crime rates. This first episode is mostly talking about the Australian experience.

Theme music: Holy Deep by The Passion HiFi

Show Notes:

  • Let’s talk about guns.
  • Be clear – we’re not having a go at America.
  • We’re trying to understand the arguments for and against limiting the access people have to guns and to see how the actual evidence stacks up.
  • On the surface, the numbers are quite interesting.
  • The world’s crime figures are collected by the UNODC – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – through its annual crime survey.
  • People killed – homicides, not including suicides – on average in one year by guns: Australia: 35, UK 42; Germany: 194, Canada: 200, USA: 10,000 – 11,000
  • Now, yes – the USA has a larger population.
  • But it’s population of 323 million is only 5 times the size of the UK’s 65 million.
  • And yet its gun death number is 231x the UK’s.
  • You have 230 times the chance of being killed by someone with a gun if you live in America.
  • The Small Arms Survey collates civilian gun ownership rates for 178 countries around the world, and has ‘normalised’ the data to include a rate per 100,000 population.
  • It shows that:
  • With less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35–50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, heavily skewing the global geography of firearms and any relative comparison
  • You often hear that the US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people.
  • But that’s actually misleading.
  • Less than half of American households own one.
  • This is the rate of gun ownership that matters: how many Americans actually possess a firearm?
  • It’s not 88 percent or 100 percent – it’s 47 percent.
  • While the US has the most guns per capita, it does not have the highest rate of gun ownership.
  • That puts it first in the world for gun ownership – and even the number two country, Yemen, has significantly fewer – 54.8 per 100 people
  • But the US does not have the worst firearm murder rate – that prize belongs to Honduras, El Salvador and Jamaica.
  • In fact, the US is number 28, with a rate of 2.97 per 100,000 people
  • Puerto Rico tops the world’s table for firearms murders as a percentage of all homicides – 94.8%.
  • It’s followed by Sierra Leone in Africa and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean.
  • Australia has only 0.14 gun-related homicides per 100,000 people.
  • England has only 0.07.
  • Which means the USA’s rate is 42x that of England and 21x Australia.
  • How do those numbers relate to the overall homicide rates in those countries?
  • USA has 4.88 intentional homicides per 100,000.
  • Number 94 in the world.
  • Australia only has 0.98, number 179.
  • UK 0.92, number 183.
  • USA homicide rate is roughly three times as high as Canada (1.9) and six times as high as Germany and Italy (0.9).
  • Compared to other countries identified in the report as “developed”, which all had average homicide rates of 0.8 per 100,000, America is a much more violent country.
  • BTW if you want to really be safe, move to Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino or Andorra.
  • Rates are zero.
  • Monaco has an armed national police force consisting of 515 men and women for 35,000 people – Monaco has the largest police force and police presence in the world on both a per-capita and per-area basis.
  • Trump likes to say that the U.S. murder rate is the highest it had been in 47 years.
  • But in fact, the US homicide rate is dropping and is the lowest homicide rate recorded since 1963 when the rate was 4.6 per 100,000.
  • It’s less than half the historical high of 10.2 in 1980.
  • What he probably meant to say is that there has been an increase in the homicide rate in recent years, but it’s still way lower than it used to be.
  • It went up by 8% in 2016 according to the FBI.
  • And they seem to be down again in 2017.
  • But homicide rates were considerably higher in the United States during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and over the past 25 years have fallen nearly continuously.
  • Meanwhile total gun ownership in the United States has increased significantly.
  • Over a recent 20 year period, the number of new guns in the US that were either manufactured in the US or imported into the US increased 141 percent from 6.6 million new guns in 1994 to 16 million in 2013.
  • That means a gross total of 132 million new guns were added into the US population over that time period.
  • So what relationship is there between access to guns and homicides?
  • There are a number of ways of looking at it.
  • And there are a bunch of arguments for and against gun control that we always hear.
  • So let’s try to break them down.
  • One way is to look at other countries that are similar to America, in terms of “development” and culture.
  • Like the UK, Australia and Canada.
  • Now you might argue that America is different, but we’ll look at that also.
  • Let’s start with Australia because it’s the one I’m most familiar with.
  • Australia was of course invaded by the British in the late 1700s who used it as a penal colony.
  • Idiots – they sent their criminals to paradise.
  • But that’s another story.
  • From the beginning there were controls on firearms, as you’d expect for a penal colony.
  • The Commonwealth does not have constitutional authority over firearms, it’s a matter for the states, and the laws across the states varied widely.
  • Fully automatic guns were banned on most of the Australian mainland from the 1930s, but remained legal in Tasmania until 1996.
  • Gun laws in Australia became a political issue in the 1980s.
  • Low levels of violent crime through much of the 20th century kept levels of public concern about firearms low.
  • In the last two decades of the century, following several high-profile killing sprees and a media campaign, the Australian government coordinated more restrictive firearms legislation with all state governments.
  • There were 13 gun massacres (the killing of 4 or more people at one time) occurred in Australia in the 18 years before 1996.
  • The Howard government – a notoriously conservative government in all other respects – was elected in 1996 and after a mass shooting happened in Port Arthur, Tasmania – the last state where automatic weapons were still legal – in which 36 people were killed and 23 more were injured, it quickly introduced the National Firearms Agreement.
  • The Port Arthur perpetrator said he bought his firearms from a gun dealer without holding the required firearms licence.
  • In his autobiography, Howard said: “I did not want Australia to go down the American path. There are some things about America I admire and there are some things I don’t. And one of the things I don’t admire about America is their… slavish love of guns. They’re evil”.

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