Op-Ed: No Evidence From Abroad That Strict Gun Laws Prevent Massacres


Writing in the Wall Street Journal, author and professor Joyce Lee Malcolm says the gun-control experiences of Great Britain and Australia after mass shootings there in the 1980s and 1990s do not indicate that America can solve its gun-violence problem with new laws. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when the mass shootings occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. In Britain, semiautomatic rifles were banned, shotguns were placed under careful restrictions, and handguns were nearly completely banned in 1998. Yet within a decade, crime with handguns had doubled. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time, and another massacre occurred in June 2010, with a dozen fatalities.

Australia, meanwhile, banned all semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic and pump-action shotguns and imposed a more restrictive licensing system on other firearms. The government also launched a forced buyback scheme to remove thousands of firearms from private hands. It purchased and destroyed more than 631,000 of the banned guns at a cost of $500 million in 1997. Two researchers concluded in 2003 that the impact was “relatively small,” with a firearms homicide decline of about 3 percent. Malcolm concluded, “Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don’t provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems.”

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