If we are to believe that the correlation between strict gun control and low rates of gun violence in other industrialized nations really is some sort of incredible coincidence, events in Australia
must be taken for nothing short of a miracle. In the 18 years prior to 1996 gun control reforms, that nation saw 13 mass shootings
. In the 16 since, they have seen one -- which usually isn't even counted, because the shooter was only able to kill two people before he had to stop to reload (because: gun control) and was apprehended. That wouldn't even count as a mass shooting in the guide to American massacres I linked to earlier. Still, after that incident, Australia reviewed and tightened its gun laws again
. Ten years later, there hasn't been another.
Before the gun fetishists start freaking out (as if they hadn't already): it didn't take some sort of total authoritarian prohibition in Australia to achieve this kind of result. It just took common sense gun laws. In fact, there are more guns
in Australia now than there were before the 1996 reforms. But, magazine size is limited, weapons designed for war zones can only be owned (in a non-operational state) by collectors and people who own any gun need to be over 18, have a license and keep them stored safely. Exactly what part of that sounds so unreasonable to the average sportsman?
And if you're a gun enthusiast still clinging to the based-on-nothing belief that people will just find other ways of committing gun homicides, here's
a little something more from our friends down under:
After the introduction of gun laws, a significant downward trend was evident in total homicides, and the ratio of pre‐law to post‐law trends differed statistically from "no effect" (p = 0.01, table 33).). We conclude that the data do not support any homicide method substitution hypothesis.
In short: when gun homicides declined, all homicides declined. People did not simply commit them another way.
I actually disagree when they conclude that no method substitution occurs, however. There is some evidence to suggest that people who want to go on a violent rampage do try to find other ways when guns are not available. Of course these people do not, in fact, slyly poison 20 school children when a Glock isn't handy or mix up some kind of crazy Joker laughing gas. When guns aren't handy, they seem to use the next best thing: a knife. We've seen this over and over again in China lately. The major difference is that, even when a knife-wielding maniac is able to reach dozens of victims, often every single victim survives. These events aren't showing up as homicides perhaps because homicide wasn't achieved, because it wasn't as easily achievable. Ever hear that expression about taking a knife to a gunfight? It exists for a reason.
Still, too many Americans -- including our lawmakers -- insist on remaining astonishingly obstinate when it comes to any suggestion of responsible firearm regulations. Instead of common sense solutions, they repeat bizarre myths and offer idiotic distractions. It's as if every time a white suburbanite picks up a gun, half the country suddenly becomes your crazy grandfather, claiming that the same violent films and video games that kids in Australia, Ireland and Britain are watching and playing are somehow compelling only Americans to go on shooting sprees. It's an... unique idea, to say the least. (Let's not even talk about what they're watching in Japan, which has -- through strict gun control efforts -- virtually eliminated gun violence altogether.)
Not that it would matter if these things were somehow magically compelling only Americans to shoot up their local malls. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes the most effective solution is not, actually, attempting to remove every underlying motive or eliminate every contributing factor. Sometimes it's just using the most effective solution at your disposal.
To be clear, I am definitely not saying that our health care system doesn't need a top-to-bottom overhaul. It does. What I am saying is that by far the most effective, proven solution at our disposal is a major, common sense reform of our gun control laws, and that there is no good reason not to do it.