You’d have to wonder why a prestigious national broadsheet newspaper like the Australian would give column space to an utterly discredited shyster like US pro-gun “academic” John Lott Jnr. Have a read of the redoubtable Tim Lambert’s blog if you think I’m being overly harsh on Lott.
Incidentally, Lambert has been quick off the mark blogging about Lott’s article in today’s Oz. Strangely, however, Tim doesn’t focus on the central misleading aspect of Lott’s article. Lott performs the dishonest politician’s standard trick of building a straw man and then effortlessly demolishing it:
Violent crime rates have gone up dramatically in Australia since the 1996 Port Arthur gun control measures. And violent crime rates averaged 20 per cent higher in the six years after the law was passed (from 1997 to 2002) than they did in 1996, 32 per cent higher than the violent crime rates in 1995. The same comparisons for armed robbery rates showed increases of 67 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively; for aggravated assault, 20 per cent and 32 per cent; for rape, 11 per cent and 12 per cent; murder, attempted murder and manslaughter rose by 5 per cent in both cases.
Perhaps six years of crime data is just not enough to evaluate the experience. Yet Australian governments seem to believe that if gun controls don’t work at first, more and stricter regulations (like getting rid of swords) are surely the solution. Remember, never second-guess government regulations.
But no-one with more than half a brain claims that tighter gun laws reduce crime per se: rapists will still rape, drug addicts will still rob chemist shops and so on. What you would expect/hope to see is a reduction in gun-related deaths, and that’s precisely what we do see in the Australian statistics. An Australian Institute of Criminology study titled Firearm related deaths in Australia, 1991-2001 by Jenny Mouzos and Catherine Rushforth found:
The examination finds a 47 per cent decrease in annual numbers of firearms related deaths between 1991 and 2001, with a fall in the number of suicides accounting for the largest part of that decrease.
Why doesn’t Lott mention this in his Oz article? Because he’s not an academic in any meaningful sense, just a dishonest political advocate of the worst kind.