Saturday, October 30, 2010

Did Australian gun control reduce suicide rates?

In Australia, following the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, the government iniiated much stricter gun control [already much stricter than the USA]. One initiative involved buying back semi-automatic weapons and shotguns. Since then there have been no multiple shootings, whereas before then there was a shooting every one or two years. Australia has a high suicide rate among young males. In rural areas many of these involve shotguns. A natural consequence of the buyback might have been a reduction of such suicides. An interesting Sydney Morning Herald article from August this year reports
[Then Prime Minister] Mr Howard's agreement with the states to ban and buy back more than 600,000 weapons after the massacre at Port Arthur in April 1996 cut the country's stock of firearms by 20 per cent and roughly halved the number of households with access to guns....
The buyback cut firearm suicides by 74 per cent, saving 200 lives a year, according to research to be published in The American Law and Economics Review...

Two of the independent rural MPs now holding the balance of power in Parliament opposed the plan.
The actual research article is here. A second article which reaches a different conclusion [there was no significant reduction in firearm suicides due to the buyback] from the same data is here.

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