"Furor over Study of Failed Aussie Gun Buy-Up"
The New GUN WEEK, November 10, 2006, Page 1
Furor over Study of Failed Aussie Gun Buy-Up
by Dave Workman, Senior Editor
There is thunder Down Under in the wake of a study published in the British Journal of Criminology that asserts the
nearly $500 million spent on Australia’s gun “buy-up” precipitated by the 1996 Port Arthur massacre has had no measurable effect on that nation’s homicide rate.
At least part of the controversy swirls around the fact that the study’s authors, Dr. Jeannine Baker and Samara
McPhedran are members of gun organizations, a fact they reportedly disclosed up front to render moot any allegations that they were merely pawns of the gun lobby.
However, The Sydney Morning Herald noted, “The significance of the article was not who had written it but the fact it
had been published in a respected journal after the regular rigorous process of being peer reviewed.”
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, more than 600,000 firearms were taken in by the government, which at least
partly reimbursed their value to the unfortunate gunowners who had to surrender their firearms—primarily
semi-automatic rifles and pump shotguns—under gun laws passed after Martin Bryant went on a rampage, killing 35 people and wounding 18 others.
But Baker and McPhedran turned out what Don Weatherburn, director of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, called a study that was “well conducted and published in an internationally respected, peer-reviewed journal.”
“It would be unfair to accuse the authors of ‘cooking the books’ to achieve a certain result,” Weatherburn wrote in a Morning Herald Op-Ed article.
But Simon Chapman, a professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, said in a recent radio interview that the Baker-McPhedran research should not be taken seriously. Speaking to Daniel Hoare with Australia’s National Radio, Chapman insisted tougher gun laws are needed on the island continent.
“We need to look at tightening up gun laws on hand guns,” Chapman argued. “There has been a proliferation of handguns in recent years, but I think generally speaking, one can say that the gun law situation in Australia remains one of the toughest in the world. And that’s to the great disappointment of the gun lobby in Australia and internationally.”
But Baker, in the same report, fired back: “In 1996 we were told that taking the ... buying back those civilian firearms, off those licensed firearms owners would make society safer and it would reduce firearm deaths. The evidence isn’t there to support that.
“The whole point was we were looking at the National Firearms Agreement,” she said, “which was the turning point or the sort of pivot point that we were examining. In terms of mass murder, there have been mass murders since Port Arthur. They haven’t been with a firearm.”
Baker further observed, “If the money spent on gun control in 1996 had been spent on suicide prevention programs or mental health programs, we would have saved a lot more lives.” . . .
Thanks to Jack Anderson for sending this to me.