Are the examples of UK and Australia gun bans applicable to the US?

In the never-ending gun debate are arguments for and against the notion that eliminating guns from the USA could ever be practical. The gun control advocates claim that the virtual elimination of firearms from the UK and Australia are proof that it can be done. My question here is whether the circumstances in the UK and Australia bear comparison with the USA. Particularly I’m wondering if gun control in those countries started from already low levels of gun ownership, whether the political systems there made top-down government mandates easier to impose, how successful the restrictions have actually been, overall crime rates irregardless of firearms, etc. In short, are the prospects for the success of gun control different in the USA then they were there?

I think there are several reasons why it won’t happen in the US:

  • the right ‘to bear arms’ in the Constitution

  • the powerful lobbying by the NRA

  • the massive number of guns already held by private citizens

  • the various reasons why Americans like guns:

  • for recreation (e.g. hunting)

  • for self defence (e.g. in the home)

  • for independence (in case the US Government tries to takeover the country)

The biggest reason it won’t happen (and wouldn’t work, at least in the foreseeable future) is the vast number of guns in the US. The USA just has way more guns per capita than the UK and Australia had, not to mention so many more people in general.

With all those guns, a gun ban wouldn’t do a whole lot in the USA. It’s not like guns get ‘consumed’ (though ammunition does) – so those guns aren’t going away unless each one is found and physically destroyed.

Gun ownership here was already at extremely low levels, and the number of people (57,000) who were thrown out of the sled by the politicians was small enough for them to ignore the electoral consequences.
Also since the arms in question were comprehensively registered it was easy to transition from registration to confiscation.

It’s not as if there are no guns in the UK either. If what I read is true, then it’s not that hard to acquire one, especially from the new part of the EU where guns abound.

What is very different from the USA, is the general public’s attitude to them. Very few people in this country want to own a gun, or indeed have any great interest in them. Few of us want to see the cop on the beat carrying a gun as a matter of course (and that includes the police themselves), although we do support the use of properly trained armed police in case of need.

The severe penalties, and the low chance of being shot, tends to deter criminals from going armed. The bank robber with a sawn off shotgun is ancient history. The scrote who burgles your house may carry a knife (though probably not) but he is very unlikely to be armed. The most likely place to find criminals with guns is within the big city gangs, and that is for their own macho reasons and defence against rivals.

This is why American gun rights groups so strongly oppose firearms registration.

The UK is not a model for anything that could happen in the USA, because guns have never been commonly used for personal defence here. Nobody ‘took away’ our guns. We mostly never had them.

Stupidest argument in all creation.

Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

[In Australia] while there has been much controversy over the result of the law and buyback, Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, in a 2003 study published by the Brookings Institution, found homicides “continued a modest decline” since 1997. They concluded that the impact of the National Firearms Agreement was “relatively small,” with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%.

According to their study, the use of handguns rather than long guns (rifles and shotguns) went up sharply, but only one out of 117 gun homicides in the two years following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement used a registered gun. Suicides with firearms went down but suicides by other means went up. They reported “a modest reduction in the severity” of massacres (four or more indiscriminate homicides) in the five years since the government weapons buyback. These involved knives, gas and arson rather than firearms.

In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults.


Note that during the same time, US homicide rates have dropped by 30% or so while gun laws were passed that made it easier to obtain concealed-carry licenses.

I have read that a far higher percentage of burglaries in England occur while the residents are at home. The criminals know that they are extremely unlikely to have anything to fear from the residents.

On the other hand, John Lott has estimated that a burglar in the U.S. has approximately equal chances of getting shot and going to jail.

This is a modern myth that just won’t die. Good writers write what they know, and guns are all over the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Well, no. Someone a couple of posts down from your one is citing the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle :dubious:

Guess which country boasts the world’s highest gun ownership rate and highest incarceration rate.

That reminds me of another question I hope someone can answer: in the US, are there any laws specifying that committing a crime with a gun gets a more severe penalty than with a non-gun “deadly weapon”? (Other than possession of a stolen gun, unlicensed carry, felon banned from owning guns, etc.). If simply mugging someone at gunpoint instead of knifepoint added 15 years to your sentence, I could see that would discourage gun crime.

Presuming the answer is the USA, I thought the overwhelming cause of our incarceration rate was drug possession and overall violence (not just guns).

Correlation does not = causation, and I think it’s unlikely these are particularly related. But as has also been noted, the US has a much, much higher murder rate than countries like UK, Canada, and Australia.

I believe this is largely due to the existence of so many guns, and the ease in acquiring guns.

I’ll add that I don’t support much gun control, in general. Not only do I think it’s politically extremely difficult, but I don’t think it’s that effective. With all the guns in existence in America, trying to control them is a fool’s errand. We just have to accept that we have a pretty well armed society, and we have to accept that that has its drawbacks – chiefly that it’s a lot easier to kill people.

Did you mean to post this in The Game Room? If not, just tell us, please.

What’s stupid about his argument?

Granted, he could have made a better argument.

I’ve seen plenty of episodes of Luther and they’ve got plenty of criminals with guns so it’s pretty obvious that the UK’s anti-gun laws don’t work.

Using that logic, evil villains with atomic weapons must number in the thousands. :smiley:

Some states have them, such as Florida. Not sure how many states.

Correlation does not equal causation here too. There are plenty of less-well-armed nations with far higher murder rates than the U.S. There’s no particular reason to expect the U.S. rate to be identical to the UK/Canada/Australia rates, when they are different nations with different cultures, demographics, approaches to crime, and so forth. Clearly, guns aren’t the whole story - in 2012, Minnesota’s murder rate was just under 2 per 100,000, comparable to Canada’s 1.6, and it has plenty of guns.

I like to take my Aston-Martin DB9, with its invisibility cloak, and missiles, down to the shops. I can park wherever I want. Mind you, there’s only room amongst the weapons systems in the boot for a couple of mushrooms and a can of beans.

Anyway, arguing about gun rules between different countries tends to be entirely unproductive. Make an argument from within your own set of laws, history, demographics etc.