The Australian Model

Recently President Obama and Candidate Hillary Clinton have been focusing on the topic of gun control. One thing they have done is praise the Australian model for gun control. What exactly would implementing such a model entail?

The Australian model introduced far-reaching bans on almost all types of pump action shotguns as well as semi-automatic shotguns, rifles, and handguns. Legal firearms were then categorized into seven groups. The most basic firearm license which is a class A permit allows non-semi-automatic rimfire rifles and non-pump action or semi-auto shotguns. In order to get a class A license an applicant must give a “Genuine Reason” to get approval. Class C firearms and beyond are almost exclusively reserved for government agencies and occupational shooters. Most of these firearms would be accessible to a law-abiding U.S. citizen. So it is true that firearm can be owned in Australia, but the licensing procedure is very stringent and restrictive. Another important thing about the Australian model is that holding a firearm for self-defense is not a legal or “Genuine Reason” to obtain a permit. Once the laws were passed, Australia instituted a huge firearm buyback program to retrieve now illegal firearms from citizens.

These programs would not work in the United States. First, how is the government going to buyback 310 million privately owned firearms in the United States? Besides the huge number of firearms, there would be major constitutional questions arising as to whether the firearms would be protected under various clauses of the constitution. Let’s assume a forced buyback of private property was perfectly legal. The US could then institute a buyback program like Australia, and like Australis this would leave anywhere from sixty to eighty percent of privately owned firearms still in circulation. Supposing the Federal Government somehow gets the funding to buy back and dispose of 124 million firearms, the remaining 186 million firearms would still be left in circulation. Now a market for illegal firearms has been created with the added advantage of having 186 million newly outlawed firearms on that market.

So what would the effects look like? According to the University of Melbourne “There is little evidence to suggest that [the Australian mandatory gun buyback program] had any significant effects on firearm homicides.” Any decrease in crime can be attributed to the previous trend of decreased violent crime starting fifteen years before the ban. So in conclusion, “The gun buy-back and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia”. The likelihood of this program working in the United States is even worse than in Australia. The forced confiscation—besides being unconstitutional—would be extremely coercive. It would inevitably lead to thousands of well-armed Federal agents going door to door and forcefully take firearms from millions of well-armed civilians. So gun violence which is at a historic low would actually skyrocket.

An Australian style gun ban in this country would never work. There are simply too many firearms in circulation. Also, many of the key components of the Australian law would never pass as constitutional in the United States. If anything consider the fact that research has failed to show statistical evidence that the law had any effect on violent crime in Australia.

8 thoughts on “The Australian Model

  1. thn5034

    Even though I am not very involved in the issue of gun control, I have heard a lot mentioning about the Australian gun controls and its comparison to America. This post certainly gives me an insight into why the model cannot be applied to America. However, I do agree there should be stricter laws on gun controls in America. The less access to guns will lead to less opportunities for offenders and less accidents involving guns resulting in injuries.

  2. Carrie Ajamian

    This is a really interesting topic, especially since gun control is such a controversial issue. I had never thought to think about what the legislation is like outside of the U.S. as it does not directly affect me, but of course it is definitely a great thing to think about in order to put gun laws in the U.S. into perspective. I am not 100% sure what my views on gun control are as i think there are many good arguments for both sides, but I think it’s super interesting to consider all of the factors. I didn’t realize that Australia had such strict gun control laws, and it interests me that when instituting such laws the results can either be very impacted or not change very much at all.

  3. Lauretta Kraemer

    I think the problem of gun control is a very controversial issue and may nee to imply some internationally influenced legislation to create a safer environment in the United States. In my opinion I don’t think it’s necessary for civilians to have access to assault rifles of any kind, but I can understand the desire for handguns to make civilians feel safer, although most handguns kept in home are either never used or lead to accidents resulting in injury. I think Americans will protect their right to bare arms as long as they can, but at some time or another we must make modernizing legislation like the rest of the first world to reduce the amount of innocent people killed by gun violence every year.

  4. mep5497

    While I personally am a fan of the Australian model of gun control, I agree that it would not be effective if instituted in the current American climate. I hope that in the future we will be able to institute such a ban, as while it may not be linked directly to a decrease in crime in Australia, there hasn’t been a mass shooting there since the implementation of strict gun control. I would personally feel much safer with a gun control model like Australia’s rather than the current US system, and I hope that one day soon our culture will evolve to a point that will allow that to be a possibility.

  5. knd5174

    Your post this week was very interesting and prompted me to do some more research on the Australian model. I also agree that excessively restrictive gun control laws aren’t the answer to raising gun violence in the U.S., but I am of the opinion that some increased gun control laws would benefit the country. When I was looking more into Australia’s gun control laws, I did find that while no clear statement could be made as to the effect of tightening gun laws on overall level of violence, there has not been a mass shooting since the implementation of stricter controls. I think in this regard, the U.S. could benefit from restrictions on rapid fire weapons and more severe punishments for illegal/unregistered firearms, as I really feel we should be doing all we can to prevent attacks such as those seen in Newtown, San Bernardino, Virginia Tech, Oregon State, etc.

  6. Han Yu

    I always like your clear line of reasoning that guides your readers comfortably throughout your post. As for your content, I don’t really know much about gun controls in Australia and thus your post provided succinct but very useful information concerning this issue. I understand the reason (partially British reason, though) why Australia needs a more strict gun control regulation, and it is understandable that if the American style gun control is implanted into Australia we might possibly observe a skyrocketing violent crimes. It is the same as implanting the Australian model direct onto the American soil. What should be implanted by the US, though, should be the determination to gradually lower the bar on gun circulation and usage, in the manner suitable for the American people.

  7. Arielle Djokoto

    I knew Australia had much stricter gun control laws than we do here, but I didn’t know the extent to which they go. I’m not really pro-gun, so I always looked at other countries and wondered what was keeping America from following suit. Well, reading your post, now I see at least one of the reasons why, and there are probably more similar reasons as well. Still doesn’t stop me from hoping that America finds another solution.

  8. ezd5155

    It surprises me Australia implemented such a law. Perhaps I have a very stereotypical American view of the country, but as it occurs to me no other place in the world would be as well suited to owning guns than Australia. This is not just to defend against people, but rather to defend against the native fauna that on average is venomous, poisonous, or bigger than people. I do agree that this would likely not work in the US for an even more basic reason; the people who own those millions of guns in the US really love their guns. Taking them away isn’t as easy as “it’s the law now, hand em over.” Controls on what Americans can buy may come and go, but I don’t see the guns in circulation ever being forcibly taken out.

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