“Despite claims to the contrary, the gun buy-back scheme appears to have been worthwhile”, said John Crook, president of Gun Control Australia.
The Port Arthur gun laws affected high power guns only and were primarily designed to reduce the number of gun massacres. Although a longer time is needed to be sure, the results of the last two and a half years since the new laws, give us cause for hope. Since the start of the buy-back there has only been two shootings in which three have died. The average for multiple death shootings in that time is seven per year. This is half the rate for the previous 11 years.
Let’s look at the situation in Victoria.
“Sporting Shooters Association Victorian president Sebastian Ziccone has claimed that the buy-back had dismally failed but there is no evidence for this at the moment” claimed Mr Crook ” indeed the long term evidence suggests that the community is much safer when strict gun laws are introduced”.
” As we end the century it is obvious that the gun homicide rate in Victoria has greatly decreased since the stricter gun laws enacted after the Hoddle and Queen Streets Shootings. The average Victorian gun homicide figure for the 1980′s was 31 per year, whereas the figure for the 1990′s is only 18 per year”.
“The proportion homicide victims killed with guns has also declined ” said Mr Crook, The Australian Institute of Criminology figures show that in 1997 only 21% of Australian homicides were gun related, this figure has been decreasing over the last few decades as gun laws have strengthened”.
ABS figures for Victorians killed in gun homicides in recent years are:
14 It can be seen that there is considerable fluctuation in the yearly figures and it will take another 5 years at least to estimate the success of the gun buy-back scheme.
Such an estimation must look at the Australian situation as a whole but we see greater community safety in the fact that the yearly long- gun import rate now is less than half what it was in the 1970′s. Handguns are likely to constitute an increasingly greater problem because controls on them have not improved and the import rate is not declining.