Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library

Alpers, Philip. 2013 ‘The Big Melt: How One Democracy Changed After Scrapping a Third of Its Firearms - Impact of Gun Laws and Buy-back.’ Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis; Part IV, Chapter 16, pp. 208-209. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 25 January

Relevant contents

Impact of Gun Laws and Buy-back

The evidence is clear that following gun law reform, Australians became many times less likely to be killed with a firearm (Alpers, Wilson, and Rossetti 2013a).

That said, causality and standards of proof are as contentious in Australia as in any community polarized by the gun debate. Central to the differing interpretations is that Australia's gun death rates were already declining prior to its major public health interventions. Taking this into account, one study concluded nevertheless that "the rates per 100,000 of total firearm deaths, firearm homicides and firearm suicides all at least doubled their existing rates of decline after the revised gun laws" (Chapman, Alpers, et al. 2006).

A countervailing study interpreted essentially the same empirical findings to conclude the opposite, namely that "the gun buy-back and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia" (Baker and McPhedran 2007). In an article for the National Rifle Association of America, one of the coauthors of this study was quoted as saying "The findings were clear…the policy has made no difference. There was a trend of declining deaths which has continued" (Smith 2007).

A third paper relied on different tests to find that Australia's new gun laws "did not have any large effects on reducing firearm homicide or suicide rates" (Lee and Suardi 2010). These two "little or no effect" studies and their methodology have since been heavily criticized (Neill and Leigh 2007, Hemenway 2009, 2011).

To date, one conclusion has gone uncontested. In finding "no evidence of substitution effect for suicides or homicides," the initial study of impacts showed that Australia's interventions were not followed by displacement from firearms to other methods (Chapman, Alpers, et al. 2006).

Sources cited:
Alpers, Philip, Marcus Wilson, and Amélie Rossetti. 2013a. Guns in Australia: Facts, Figures and Firearm Law (Total Number of Gun Deaths). Sydney: GunPolicy.org, Sydney School of Public Health. http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compareyears/10/total_number_of_gun_deaths.

Baker, Jeanine, and Samara McPhedran. 2007. Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference? British Journal of Criminology 47:455–69.

Chapman, Simon, Philip Alpers, Kingsley Agho, and Michael Jones. 2006. Australia's 1996 Gun Law Reforms: Faster Falls in Firearm Deaths, Firearm Suicides and a Decade without Mass Shootings. Injury Prevention 12:365–72.

Lee, Wang-Sheng, and Sandy Suardi. 2010. The Australian Firearms Buyback and Its Effect on Gun Deaths. Contemporary Economic Policy 28:65–79.

Neill, Christine, and Andrew Leigh. 2007. Weak Tests and Strong Conclusions: A Re-analysis of Gun Deaths and the Australian Firearms Buyback. Canberra: The Australian National University, Centre for Economic Policy Research. EPS Journal, Discussion Paper 555.

Smith, Blaine. 2007. Dim Bulb! America's 1st Freedom. Fairfax, VA: National Rifle Association of America, 8(2):34–54.

ID: Q6546

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