Friday, 24 June 2016

Gun control laws & politics in Australia as against USA

The following three part video series in the year 2013, show comedian John Oliver interview Australian political leaders including former PM John Howard, who were instrumental in pushing through key gun control legislation in 1996 after a mass shooting in Australia. John Oliver interviews former Queensland premier, Robert Borbidge, who states in the interview that he committed political suicide by supporting gun control (as it was the right thing to do). These measures have been successful in reducing gun violence in Australia and reducing mass shootings in Australia. Oliver also interviews gun control opponent(s) in the USA and some USA political leaders who try to explain the NRA's influence over USA politicians. [I thank brother Ivan Escalona for sharing these video links on my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1757041254512444.]

The Daily Show - Gun Control Whoop-de-doo, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pOiOhxujsE, 5 min. 21 secs, published Apr 24, 2013

The Daily Show - Gun Control & Political Suicide, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYbY45rHj8w, 6 min. 24 secs, published Apr 24, 2013,

The Daily Show - John Oliver's Australia & Gun Control's Aftermath, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVuspKSjfgA, 6 min. 40 secs, published Apr 26, 2013

Given below is an extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_Australia :

The Port Arthur massacre in 1996 transformed gun control legislation in Australia. 35 people were killed and 23 wounded when the gunman opened fire on shop owners and tourists with two semi-automatic rifles. This mass killing horrified the Australian public.

The massacre occurred six weeks after the Dunblane massacre in Scotland.

The Port Arthur perpetrator said he bought his firearms from a gun dealer without holding the required firearms licence.

Prime Minister John Howard took the gun law proposals developed from the report of the 1988 National Committee on Violence and convinced the states to adopt them under a National Firearms Agreement. This was necessary because the Australian Constitution does not give the Commonwealth power to enact gun laws. The proposals included a ban on all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and a tightly restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls.

The Howard Government held a series of public meetings to explain the proposed changes. In the first meeting, Howard wore a bullet-resistant vest, which was visible under his jacket. Many shooters were critical of this. Some gun enthusiasts applied to join the Liberal Party in an attempt to influence the government, but the party barred them from membership. A court action by 500 shooters seeking admission to membership eventually failed in the Supreme Court of South Australia.

The Australian Constitution requires just compensation be given for property taken over, so the federal government introduced the Medicare Levy Amendment Act 1996 to raise the predicted cost of A$500 million through a one-off increase in the Medicare levy. The gun buy-back scheme started on 1 October 1996 and concluded on 30 September 1997. The government bought back and destroyed nearly 1 million firearms.

Following the National Agreement on Firearms, the number of deaths by firearms in Australia, initially declined slowly. Overall homicides immediately after, saw a decrease of less than one per 100,000 persons. Over the medium term homicide by firearm dropped from 1/200,000 to 1/670,000.

Between 2010-2014, gun related homicides across all of Australia had dropped to 30-40 per year. Firearms in 2014 were used in less than 15% of homicides, less than 0.1% of sexual assaults, less than 6% of kidnapping/abductions and 8% of robberies.

Since the 1996 legislation the risk of dying by gunshots was reduced by 50% in the following years and stayed on that lower level since then. The rate of gun related suicide was greatly reduced as well. In 2010 The American Journal of Law and Economics reported a 59% decrease in firearm homicides in Australia between 1995 and 2006 (0.37 per 100,000 people in 1995 to 0.15 per 100,000 people in 2006). They also reported that the non-firearm homicides fell by the same rate. The decreasing rate for homicide with a firearm was a continuation of a pre-existing decline prior to the 1996 reforms, and several analyses of these trends have been conducted and claimed that the reforms have had a statistically insignificant effect on homicide rates with a firearm .

Suicides by firearm were already declining; however they fell significantly after controls, dropping around 50% in two years. Overall suicide rates remained steady until a slight drop in 2003, followed by stable rates since then.
--- end wiki extract ---

Extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States :

Gun violence in the United States results in thousands of deaths and injuries annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, firearms were used in 84,258 nonfatal injuries (26.65 per 100,000 U.S. citizens)  and 11,208 deaths by homicide (3.5 per 100,000), 21,175 by suicide with a firearm, 505 deaths due to accidental discharge of a firearm, and 281 deaths due to firearms-use with "undetermined intent" for a total of 33,169 deaths related to firearms (excluding firearm deaths due to legal intervention). 1.3% of all deaths in the country were related to firearms.
...
The Congressional Research Service in 2009 estimated there were 310 million firearms in the U.S., not including weapons owned by the military. Of these, 114 million were handguns, 110 million were rifles, and 86 million were shotguns. In that same year, the Census bureau stated the population of people in the U.S. at 306 million.

While the number of guns in civilian hands has been on the increase, the percentage of Americans and American households who claim to own guns has been in long-term decline, according to Pew. Pew Research Center has extrapolated from this that "The percentage of American households with a gun has been steadily declining high of 54% in 1977 to 33% in 2009" and the average number of guns per owner has increased from 4.1 in 1994 to 6.9 in 2004. Pew also found that fewer Americans are dying as a result of gun violence: In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000; by 2013, that figure had fallen to 3.6.

What the Pew research does not account for though, is that household firearms ownership hit a high again in the 1993-1994 timeframe where household gun ownership exceeded 50% according to Gallup polls. The Gallup polls further show that household firearm ownership currently exceeds 40% and that the long-term trend is a sharp decline in polling for stricter gun control laws. Lastly, Gallup polling has consistently been over 65% against, when asking whether there should be bans on possession of handguns.
...
A quarter of robberies of commercial premises in the U.S. are committed with guns. Fatalities are three times as likely in robberies committed with guns than where other, or no, weapons are used, with similar patterns in cases of family violence. Criminologist Philip J. Cook hypothesized that if guns were less available, criminals might commit the same crime, but with less-lethal weapons.
--- end wiki extract ---

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_the_United_States :

Gun politics is an area of American politics that is primarily defined by the actions of two groups: gun control and gun rights activists. These groups often disagree on the interpretation of laws and court cases related to firearms as well as about the effects of gun control on crime and public safety. It has been estimated that U.S. civilians own 270 million to 310 million firearms, and that 37% to 42% of the households in the country have at least one gun.

Since the 1990s, debates regarding firearm availability and gun violence in the U.S. have been characterized by concerns about the right to bear arms, such as found in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the responsibility of the government to serve the needs of its citizens and to prevent crime and deaths. Gun control supporters say that broad or unrestricted gun rights inhibit the government from fulfilling that responsibility. Gun rights supporters promote firearms for self-defense, hunting, sporting activities, and security against tyranny. Gun control advocates state that keeping guns out of the hands of criminals would result in safer communities, while gun rights advocates state that firearm ownership by law-abiding citizens reduces crime.

Gun legislation, or non-legislation, in the United States is augmented by judicial interpretations of the Constitution. In 1791, the United States adopted the Second Amendment, and in 1868 adopted the Fourteenth Amendment. The effect of those two amendments on gun politics was the subject of landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2008 and 2010, that upheld the right of individuals to possess guns for self-defense.
...
History

The American hunting tradition comes from a time when the United States was an agrarian, subsistence nation where hunting was a profession for some, an auxiliary source of food for some settlers, and also a deterrence to animal predators. A connection between shooting skills and survival among rural American men was in many cases a necessity and a 'rite of passage' for those entering manhood. Today, hunting survives as a central sentimental component of a gun culture as a way to control animal populations across the country, regardless of modern trends away from subsistence hunting and rural living.

The militia/frontiersman spirit derives from an early American dependence on arms to protect themselves from foreign armies and hostile Native Americans. Survival depended upon everyone being capable of using a weapon. Prior to the American Revolution there was neither budget nor manpower nor government desire to maintain a full-time army. Therefore, the armed citizen-soldier carried the responsibility. Service in militia, including providing one's own ammunition and weapons, was mandatory for all men. Yet, as early as the 1790s, the mandatory universal militia duty evolved gradually to voluntary militia units and a reliance on a regular army. Throughout the 19th century the institution of the organized civilian militia began to decline. The unorganized civilian militia, however, still remains even in current U.S. law, consisting of essentially everyone from age 17 to 45, while also including former military officers up to age 64, as codified in 10 U.S.C. § 311.

Closely related to the militia tradition is the frontier tradition, with the need for self-protection pursuant to westward expansion and the extension of the American frontier. Though it has not been a necessary part of daily survival for over a century, "generations of Americans continued to embrace and glorify it as a living inheritance—as a permanent ingredient of this nation's style and culture".

...

Gun politics date to Colonial America. Most American school children learn about the tyranny of King George III: taxation without representation. In the years prior to the American Revolution, the British, in response to the colonists' unhappiness over increasingly direct control and taxation of the colonies, imposed a gunpowder embargo on the colonies in an attempt to lessen the ability of the colonists to resist British encroachments into what the colonies regarded as local matters. Two direct attempts to disarm the colonial militias fanned what had been a smoldering resentment of British interference into the fires of war.

These two incidents were the attempt to confiscate the cannon of the Concord and Lexington militias, leading to the Battles of Lexington and Concord of April 19, 1775, and the attempt, on April 20, to confiscate militia powder stores in the armory of Williamsburg, Virginia, which led to the Gunpowder Incident and a face off between Patrick Henry and hundreds of militia members on one side and the Royal Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, and British seamen on the other. The Gunpowder Incident was eventually settled by paying the colonists for the powder.
[Ravi: I heard references to Lexington and Concord in a recent discussion between Stephen Colbert and Bill O'Reilly on gun control in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting. So it is a part of American history that is still relevant to USA gun culture. These incidents also are seen as precursors to full blown American revolutionary war against the British resulting in freedom of American colonies from British rule and founding of the USA. For more see initial section of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolution. end-Ravi]
...
The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) was passed after the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and African-American activists Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s. The GCA focuses on regulating interstate commerce in firearms by generally prohibiting interstate firearms transfers except among licensed manufacturers, dealers, and importers. It also prohibits selling firearms to certain categories of individuals defined as "prohibited persons."

The murder of musician John Lennon in 1980 and an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981 led to enactment of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Law) in 1993 which established the national background check system to prevent certain restricted individuals from owning, purchasing, or transporting firearms. In an article supporting passage of such a law, retired chief justice Warren E. Burger wrote:
Americans also have a right to defend their homes, and we need not challenge that. Nor does anyone seriously question that the Constitution protects the right of hunters to own and keep sporting guns for hunting game any more than anyone would challenge the right to own and keep fishing rods and other equipment for fishing – or to own automobiles. To 'keep and bear arms' for hunting today is essentially a recreational activity and not an imperative of survival, as it was 200 years ago. 'Saturday night specials' and machine guns are not recreational weapons and surely are as much in need of regulation as motor vehicles.
In 1986, Congress passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act. It was supported by the National Rifle Association and individual gun rights advocates because it reversed many of the provisions of the GCA and protected gun owners' rights. It also banned ownership of unregistered fully automatic rifles and civilian purchase or sale of any such firearm made from that date forward.

A Stockton, California, schoolyard shooting in 1989 led to passage of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 (AWB or AWB 1994), which defined and banned the manufacture and transfer of "semiautomatic assault weapons" and "large capacity ammunition feeding device"s. [Ravi: This expired in 2004 which is what allowed recent USA mass shooting killers including the Orlando shooter to legally buy an assault weapon (and use it with devastating impact). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban. end-Ravi]

According to journalist Chip Berlet, concerns about gun control laws along with outrage over two high profile incidents involving the ATF (Ruby Ridge in 1992 and the Waco siege in 1993) mobilized the militia movement of citizens who feared that the federal government would begin to confiscate firearms.

Though gun control is not strictly a partisan issue, there is generally more support for gun control legislation in the Democratic Party than in the Republican Party. The Libertarian Party, whose campaign platforms favor limited government, is outspokenly against gun control.

Advocacy groups

The National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded to promote firearm competency in 1871. The NRA supported the NFA and, ultimately, the GCA. After the GCA, more strident groups, such as the Gun Owners of America (GOA), began to advocate for gun rights. According to the GOA, it was founded in 1975 when "the radical left introduced legislation to ban all handguns in California." The GOA and other national groups like the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), and the Second Amendment Sisters (SAS), often take stronger stances than the NRA and criticize its history of support for some firearms legislation, such as GCA. These groups believe any compromise leads to greater restrictions.

According to the authors of The Changing Politics of Gun Control (1998), in the late 1970s, the NRA changed its activities to incorporate political advocacy. Despite the impact on the volatility of membership, the politicization of the NRA has been consistent and the NRA-Political Victory Fund ranked as "one of the biggest spenders in congressional elections" as of 1998. According to the authors of The Gun Debate (2014), the NRA taking the lead on politics serves the gun industry's profitability. In particular when gun owners respond to fears of gun confiscation with increased purchases and by helping to isolate the industry from the misuse of its products used in shooting incidents.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence began in 1974 as Handgun Control Inc. (HCI). Soon after, it formed a partnership with another fledgling group called the National Coalition to Ban Handguns (NCBH) - later known as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV). The partnership did not last, as NCBH generally took a tougher stand on gun regulation than HCI. In the wake of the 1980 murder of John Lennon, HCI saw an increase of interest and fund raising and contributed $75,000 to congressional campaigns. Following the Reagan assassination attempt and the resultant injury of James Brady, Sarah Brady joined the board of HCI in 1985. HCI was renamed in 2001 to Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
--- end wiki extracts ---

[I thank Wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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