Soon on gun control in Australia

Jason Soon has a series of posts on gun control in Australia here, here and here.

I felt that the laws here before 1996 were about right and I do not think that the 1996 laws were a good idea. The 1996 gun buyback involved replacing semi-automatic long guns with ones that weren’t semi-autos. For almost all misuses of guns this makes no difference—you only need one shot to kill or wound someone. It does make a difference in the sort of incident that prompted the buyback—a mass public shooting, but these are really rare. You could save more lives if you spent the $500 million on something else.

You can see a table containing crime figures before and after the laws here. (I also have them in a spreadsheet.) There has been a modest reduction in homicides and with-gun homicides, but it is not statistically significant, so might have been caused by chance.


  1. #1 Kevin Baker
    June 18, 2004

    And good data, too!

  2. #2 ChrisPer
    June 18, 2004

    Thanks for demonstrating what I suspected – that balanced thinking is possible in an oppositional topic.

    Perhaps you might like to read my article “Science in the service of Politics: Australian Criminology’s Integrity Test” at .

  3. #3 Tim Lambert
    June 18, 2004

    I read your article. You claimed that “Alber [sic] and Messner’s 1995 attack on Kleck (1991)” was “principally ad hominem”. I’ve read their paper. Your claim is utterly false and I fail to see how who has read their paper could possibly make it. After that, I’m afraid I can’t take the rest of your paper seriously.

  4. #4 ben
    June 18, 2004

    Tim, what were the laws regarding handguns in Australia before 1996? Was it legal to carry pistols in public concealed or otherwise? Is it currently so (in the smaller legal calibers)? I’m just curious.

  5. #5 Ian Gould
    June 19, 2004


    Handguns are effectively banned in Australia and have been for around fifty years. There are somr minor exceptions such as for members of the Australian Olympic Shooting Team.

  6. #6 Tim Lambert
    June 19, 2004

    Err, handguns aren’t banned here. You needed a permit for concealed carry which was only granted in special cases. I think that after 1996 this was stopped.

  7. #7 Jason Soon
    June 20, 2004

    Congratulations, you sound just like an economist! (being an economist myself, I meant that as a compliment)

  8. #8 Ian Gould
    June 23, 2004

    My understanding was that you needed a permit to own, not just to carry, a handgun in this country.

  9. #9 Tim Lambert
    June 24, 2004

    Yes, you need a permit to own as well as carry.

  10. #10 Ian Gould
    June 26, 2004

    And in practice virtually the only private citzens who’re issued permits are gun club members and private security guards.

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