Wednesday, April 25, 2007

All Fired Up

In a recent Podcast, I heard one of my bloggybuddies become quite heated about the fact that crime in Australia and the UK has blown out of control in no small part due to their strict gun licensing laws. Of course the conversation was precipitated by his defence of gun ownership in light of recent events in Virginia . . . not unusual in the States or here in fact, we've all had our massacres where some nutter gets hold of a firearm and wreaks havoc. Same said psychopath or sociopath, would have found a way to commit these crimes with or without a gun. Crikey, you can build a bomb from instructions on the net!

However, to say that crime rates have 'blown out of all proportion' in Australia is simply not true.

Before you get your knickers in a not big guy, I have no real opinion on gun ownership other than I believe the person owning a firearm for sport, work or pleasure should be heavily vetted before being allowed to purchase a weapon that can be great fun in the right hands but a pariah when owned by the disenchanted, socially outcast or mentally unstable and I have no doubt that you are a safe and careful firearm user.

After some significant research however, I discovered some interesting facts about gun ownership and crime in Australia:

  • Gun deaths have declined by 30% since 1995 and the gun buy-back and tightening regulations. Violent crime is also in decline. The annual average of non accidental gunshot deaths has dropped from 93 in 1996 has to just over 55 per year
  • Crime in Australia across the board has decreased
  • The 2005 National Household Survey on Drugs shows that illicit drug use has decreased. (Notwithstanding our current ICE problem)
  • In the past two years, there has been a 29 per cent decrease in armed robberies. Burglaries have also been declining over this period.
  • 42% of organisations surveyed experienced a harmful computer security incident and the virus/worm/trojan infection was the most frequently encountered type of cybercrime indicating white collar crime is on the rise.
  • We have fewer than 300 gunshot deaths a year many of which are accidental police shootings, suicides or accidental rural shootings.

Legislation does have an impact on gun killings according to recent research.

In Australia, recreational shooting is not considered negatively but then again, the gun lobby here is small. Licenses are granted to farmers to control pigs, foxes, rabbits, brumbies and kangaroos. Social or sporting shooters are also easily licensed but have to be members of a club - indeed, we have two Olympic Gold Medallists in shooting of whom we are very proud.

I know it's a hot topic and I don't know what the solution is but stricter controls have worked over here. From what I understand, the right to bear arms within the US Constitution is a ticklish issue. It isn't written into ours. We came here as unarmed convicts and famine ridden settlers so the culture of gun ownership isn't historically entrenched. Whereas the US has a long historical tradition of the gun from early occupation by the English, French and Spanish through to the taming of the west and the Civil War (Australia is one of the only nations in the world to achieve Federation via a vote rather than a Civil War). Such a long tradition and the 'right' to own a gun is so entrenched in the American culture that it will be impossible to legislate any differently.

That having been said, psychos and the mob will always find a gun on the black market. But for the rest of us let's insist on strict profiling prior to issuing a license and addressing the social issues behind the perceived 'need' to own a gun. It is true, guns don't kill people, people do - but they're a very effective tool for destruction in the wrong hands.

No hard feelings now Podcasters. And we're not perfect, historically we did use guns to decimate our indigenous population which to this day is treated abysmally because they are a largely silent minority but that is for another blog, another day.

Love your work!


Brianf said...

I don't doubt the things you say here but every single study I have researched on this subject as well as correspondance with a policeman from Victoria tells me that violent crime (not just gun crime) has risen since the confiscation of firearms in Australia.
The licensing and storage requirements are overly strict in my opinion and yes I know opinions are like assholes, we all have one.
I also have the pleasure of meeting the Australian Highpower Rifle team every other year at the National Highpower Rifle Championships. They can only afford to come every other year. They now have to leave their firearms here in the US because they're not allowed to bring them home. So the team that represents your country get to practice their sport for one week every other year.
I was not heated last weekend during the show but instead I'm just sick and tired of people and their knee jerk reaction to the tragedy at VT. That and I'm burned out trying to speak intelligently to people who REFUSE to understand. Not you, but others on other blogs as well as people here at home.

Helen said...

Sort of expected this one. Well I guess you can find research to back both sides of the story. I agree with the knee-jerk comment. Like I said, I don't have a strong position on this and I agree wholeheartedly re tabloid TV and papers blaming the machine not the man. But crimewise, gun or otherwise, we're a very safe nation. . . .Shame about the aussie rifle team, that surprises me. Overseas equestrian teams also have to ride our horses when here due to quarantine laws I guess it's tit for tat. I'd rather use a borrowed gun than a borrowed brumby. Oh, and Victoria has its own unique problems with a strong underworld presence so I'm not surprised at your friend's comment. Maybe we'll agree to disagree on this one out of mutual respect.

Baino said...

"Bang Bang . . now you're scared"
Hope that wasn't in response to anything I said? I sure hope I'm not the dickhead you want to 'shut the fuck up?' and I didn't Eek or Ew once . . . Tell me I'm being sensitive but I'd hate to fall out after only 2 weeks in your circle of blogfriends . . .