$700 million plus spent on Australia’s gun buy-backs has had no effect on firearm deaths

Topic: The Australian Firearms Buyback and Its Effect on Gun Deaths, Dr Wang-Sheng Lee and Dr Sandy Suardi, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) Inc has welcomed the findings of a Melbourne Institute paper that concludes the high expenditures incurred to fund the 1996 and 2003 Australian gun buy-backs have not translated into ‘any tangible reductions in terms of firearm deaths’.

The authors Dr Lee, a professional researcher, and Dr Suardi, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, examined all prior research on the buy-backs and applied numerous scientifically accepted statistical tests to data emanating from as far back as World War One.

The authors have no vested interest in their findings and no affiliations with any previous authors on the subject.

Not only do the authors find that there has been no tangible reduction in homicide, but they also find there has been no effect on suicide rates in Australia because of the buy-backs, initiated by the then Prime Minister John Howard in 1996 to ‘make Australia a safer community’.

Of course, the findings are of no surprise to the SSAA, which has long decried the buy-backs as nothing more than political ploys to placate an uneducated public’s fears.

With the benefit of more than 10 years hindsight and statistics available since the initial buy-back in 1996 now available to academics, the jury on the effectiveness of buying and destroying legal firearms from law-abiding and licensed sporting shooters is in. It is a shameful waste of public money.

At the time of the 1996 buy-back, the SSAA urged back that the money would be better spent on mental health initiatives. Unsurprisingly, research from the government’s own agencies has shown time and time again, that it is the mentally ill and the criminals who perpetrate acts of violence with firearms, not the licensed sporting shooter.

Our only hope is that today’s politicians of all persuasions have learnt from the lessons of the past and will think twice about targeting and persecuting licensed shooters for the acts of the criminal or mentally ill.

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