Monday, 30 August 2010

Something good: buying back guns.

The SMH reports on one of the greatest legacies of former PM John Howard.

It's the unexpected saving of 200 lives per year from the guns buy-back in 1996, following the Port Arthur massacre.

From the report:

TEN years of suicide data after John Howard's decision to ban and then buy back 600,000 semi-automatic rifles and shotguns has had a stunning effect.

The buyback cut firearm suicides by 74 per cent, saving 200 lives a year, according to research to be published in The American Law and Economics Review.

A former Australian Treasury economist, Christine Neill, now with Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, said she found the research result so surprising she tried to redo her calculations on the off chance the total could have been smaller.

''I fully expected to find no effect at all,'' she told the Herald. ''That we found such a big effect and that it meshed with a range of other data was just shocking, completely unexpected.''

Mr Howard's agreement with the states to ban and buy back more than 600,000 weapons after the massacre at Port Arthur in April 1996 cut the country's stock of firearms by 20 per cent and roughly halved the number of households with access to guns.

6 comments:

craigbenno1 said...

Interesting article Gordon.

I used to be an active sporting shooter and user of firearms within a farming context.

What this article neglects to say though is that the total number of suicides within Australia didn't decrease... suicides increased dramatically at an increased rate using other methods.

Also the number of gun related crimes have increased such as the use of pistols which are not available to the general shooting public.

Gordon Cheng said...

Hi Craig

Thanks for your comment.

Just on this point:

What this article neglects to say though is ... suicides increased dramatically at an increased rate using other methods.

While this may be true, the following point is made in the article:


Dr Neill's study found no evidence of substitution within any state.

''It is simply not the case that there was an increase in non-firearm suicide deaths in states that brought back more firearms,'' she said.

''I am confident these lives were saved.''


So any increase in non-firearm suicides was not sufficient to wipe out the effect of reduction in firearm suicides.

craigbenno1 said...

I did some intensive research into this area some years ago and recently re looked at this issue through some intensive suicide training with lifeline.

The facts are that the rate of suicide throughout this nation rise every year more than the population percentage of growth does.

One area that is ignored regarding the issue of gun related suicide within country areas was after the buyback there was a sharp increase of fatal single occupant motor vehicle accidents..eg car hitting only tree on straight stretch of road .... often these statistics have been ignored in some quarters regarding cause / effect of suicide.

Joshua Bovis said...

Hi Gordon,

How are you fairing?

Gordon Cheng said...

Hey Josh.

Your profile photo makes you look like a right Anglo-Catholic I must say. ;-)

I am going very well thank you.

I will even blog about how well in the not too distant future!

You?

Joshua Bovis said...

Now now! There are plenty of Anglican clerics of the Reformed Faith who are not ashamed of the King's Uniform.
The Late Sir Marcusn Loane - a fine Sydney Anglican example!

I am fine thankyou - a wee bit tired and I am looking forward to holidays.

Grais agus sith
Joshua