Australia’s Gun Laws Have Led to Higher Crime Rates-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Crime rates in Australia have shot up since a gun ban took effect there in the 1990s.
Claims that Australia’s gun ban caused crime rates to shoot up don’t check out.
Australia rolled out strict gun laws in 1996. Ever since, Australia’s crime rates have been used to argue points on both sides of the gun control debate. Some believe Australia’s crime rates have gone up, others believe they’ve gone down.
An email that was supposedly written by an Australian police officer named Ed Chenel cites crime statistics in Australia after stricter gun laws were approved there.
The email, which first went viral in 2011, still pops up in many inboxes. We took a look at a number of its specific claims about crime in Australia and found them to be mostly false.
First, let’s look at Australia’s gun laws.
Before 1996, the states and territories that make up Australia each set their own gun laws. After what became known as the “Port Arthur Massacre” in which a gunman killed 35 people and injured 18 others with a semi-automatic rifle, state and federal governments teamed up on gun reform, according to the Library of Congress:
In 1996, following the Port Arthur massacre, the federal government and the states and territories agreed to a uniform approach to firearms regulation, including a ban on certain semiautomatic and self-loading rifles and shotguns, standard licensing and permit criteria, storage requirements and inspections, and greater restrictions on the sale of firearms and ammunition. Firearms license applicants would be required to take a safety course and show a “genuine reason” for owning a firearm, which could not include self-defense. The reasons for refusing a license would include “reliable evidence of a mental or physical condition which would render the applicant unsuitable for owning, possessing or using a firearm.” A waiting period of twenty-eight days would apply to the issuing of both firearms licenses and permits to acquire each weapon.
The National Firearms Agreement also implemented a gun buyback program that led to 700,000 weapons being voluntarily surrendered. These stats can be difficult to fact check because they say specific crime rates are up by a certain percentage — but they don’t say over what period. We took a look at how the crime rates have changed since the gun laws took effect using the most recent data we could find.
Homicides Are Up 3.2%-Fiction!
The number of homicides in Australia has been trending downward since 2001. The Australian Institute of Criminology reports that the homicide rate decreased from 1.8 homicides per 100,000 people in 2002 to 1.1 homicides per 100,000 people in 2012 (the most recent year stats were available). One in 10 homicides in Australia during that time involved a gun.
Assaults Are Up 8.6%-Fiction! & Misleading!
The number of assaults in Australia has actually increased more than 8.6% since the 1990s. In 1996, there were 789 assaults, and by 2010 there were 972. Over that time, the number of assaults jumped about 19%, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology.
Armed Robberies Are Up 45%-Fiction!
The number of armed robberies in Australia began to increase in the 1990s and peaked in 2001. Forty armed robberies were recorded per 100,000 people that year. Since then, the number of armed robberies in the country has trended downward. There were 5,628 armed robberies in the country in 2013, a 9.6% decrease from the year before.
Gun Deaths have climbed 300% in Victoria-Unproven!
We weren’t able to find recent statistics on the number of gun deaths in Victoria.
However, we do know that the number of gun deaths decreased from 4.2 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 1979 to 1.5 per 100,000 people in 2000, the British Medical Journal reports.
The Victoria Police also reported that the number of overall homicides in the city decreased by 11.8% from 2013 to 2014.