16 thoughts on “A question…

  1. There’s actually several ideas there SL, so I’m not sure if I’ve picked the one you were referring to.

    Assuming it’s the one about witnesses being less intimidated in the US due to having both the right and a practical means of self-defence, I think it has to be true.

    More than 50% of burglaries in the UK are “hot”, meaning the occupants of the premises are home at the time. The corresponding figure in the US is 13%. The reason for the difference is that burglars in the US fear armed homeowners much more.

    In the UK, as in Australia, it is illegal to own a gun for self defence and very dodgy to try and use one. In most of the US, now including Washington DC, ownership of a gun for self defence at home is pretty much untouchable and 40 or 41 states also issue permits for concealed carry. In addition, a number of US states have passed so-called “castle doctrine” laws which give the home owner a right to shoot burglars.

    I think gun availability also helps explain why the US has a much lower rate of crime than the UK. The only crime that is higher is murder, which some claim is a consequence of the different approaches to control of drugs.

    I might add that I disagree with Reason’s remarkably sceptical take on the Heller decision. It might be a long way short of complete victory but it is certainly a very important move in the right direction. It’s also as much as anyone could hope to get from SCOTUS on the issue.

  2. Interesting theory.

    To clarify for other readers — the theory is that legal gun ownership for self-defence makes people feel more confident in their ability to defend themselves. Therefore, in countries with legal gun ownership for self-defence, people would be more willing to be a witness against a dangerous criminal.

    Sounds plausable, but pretty hard to show.

    The theory seems to indicate that people do not trust the government to be able to protect them against dangerous criminals in an emergency. This is an issue that people need to consider if they are to learn a sympathy with the self-defence argument.

    I heard it suggested a while ago that Australia should introduce self-defence as a legitimate reason for gun ownership for people who live 1 hour (or something similar) from police response. An interesting suggestion.

  3. Having to wait 59 minutes for police assistance whilst somebody is killing your family seems somewhat depressing.

  4. I agree Terje… but the point of the suggestion was to subtely open up people’s minds to the usefullness of personal self-defence as a genuine alternative to government protection.

  5. Yes I can see that. However rather than define it at 60 minutes it should be defined at 58 minutes to really hammer home the point.

  6. I could argue that. But it would be a bit disingenuous as I don’t know what it means. For all I know, you would have me ordering a pepperoni pizza, which isn’t a very strong argument… πŸ™‚

  7. Pingback: skepticlawyer » ‘I won’t testify. I’m afraid’

  8. How do you retort the argument that I always come across when discussing this issue with others that here in Australia our laws have been a smashing success since that we haven’t had any major mass shootings since Port Arthur?

  9. No, we’ve had attempted ones (Monash) and Sydney in the last decade in paticular has had an steep increase in gun related crime.

    We had virtually no gun regulation in the 1950s and no mass shootings.

    The criminologists who backed the NFA now say it is counterproductive.

    Furthermore, look at the trends in gun violence since Federation.

    A very enlightening paper:

    Click to access Baker-McPhedran_critique_of_chapman_et_al.pdf

    Also see:

    Trends in Violent
    Death and Firearms,
    1915-94, Australian Institute of Criminology

    Crime, Safety and Firearms
    Injury 2000 Prevention and Management, Australian Institute of Criminology

    wikipedia, crime in Australia 1900-1999

    1st AIC article, wikipedia:

    Over the 100+ years of Australian crime records, there is no relationship between the level of gun regulation and the crime rate. They appear to be uncorrelated.

    Second AIC article:

    The rate of gun homicides and homicides in general appears to be almost perfectly cointegrated – that is guns actually don’t affect the crime rate at all. They are simply a means to an ends.

    The OECD data is widely available elsewhere. Over the panel (time and corss section), there is no apparent correlation.

    See Peter Whelan’s CLASS (Coalition of Law Abiding Sporting Shooters) webpage for more.

    Another site: Gun Facts Version 4.2

    Dr Don Weatherburn, Head NSW Criminologist and NFA architect said the gun laws had no effect on crime last year. He doubts the value of laws he proposed.

  10. Alex – you could try asking them how many mass shootings there were in Tasmania in the many decades prior to Port Arthur and how it was possible to have so few mass shootings in those years given the previous laws. Note however that if there is a mass shooting in Tasmania next week it won’t be used by gun control advocates as reason to abondon their argument. Quite the contrary no doubt.


    Outside combat zones mass shootings are rare events. As such they are not generally amenable to statistical analysis of annual figures. Which is why the serious studies generally focus on the more workable annual data relating to homicide and gun related homicide. And what we know in Australia is that we enjoyed a downward trend in both figures both before and after 1996. And that some of the lowest rates of homicide and gun related homicide occured during the 1940s when guns were far more prevalent in the population than they are today.

    On a personal note a mass shooting is believed to have been averted in my neighbourhood a couple of months ago. My parents passed by the point of intended action a few minutes before police intervened. The man concerned was supposedly carrying 3 clips, each with ten rounds of ammunition. Ironically any such mass shooting plans that the man may have had were averted because he was shot dead using a gun.

  11. Some years ago, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that knife attacks were on the rise. I think we still have the same number of homicides, but people just use different weapons.
    And Switzerland has military ‘service’, where switzettes learn how to kill people, and they are even allowed to take weapons home with them! How come I never heard of any Swiss massacre? Do they cover them up very well, or do they not have massacres despite all those weapons? are the swiss just naturally more peace-loving?, or are they well-trained in gun maintainence, and they know their neighbours have guns, so any robber is running a real risk of death or serious injury, and knows it? Whilst I disagree with compulsory service, Switzerland gives us a counter-example of a gun-heavy culture that is light on fatalities and injuries.

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