Last week, the true extent of the failure of the 1996 gun reform in Australia was revealed, in a major investigative piece.
It can be read here.
Due to length considerations, the article was unable to reference what is most often overlooked. In any appraisal of gun reform success, a wide spectrum of circumstances are to be considered.
How many of you, for example, has ever stopped to consider the effects of a gun ban on culture? Or on the community? Or the economy and small business, for that matter.
Social and economic consequences of significant gun reform are seldom mentioned in any appraisal. Depending on your position, they may or may not occupy the highest priority. But they are substantial, and should provoke thought. With the Obama administration bounding toward some level of legislative reform, and others in America calling for a complete abandonment of the Second Amendment, Americans should consider the social and economic consequences of gun control in Australia.
With seventeen years of evidence, the Australian lesson contains many for America.
The reforms of Australia, which effectively dismantled and diminished the gun and shooting culture of Australia, has had other ramifications involving the environment and economy, safety and sport. Of these, the most noticeable are:
• the greatly increased risk of extinction to native defenseless animals due to feral relentless predators (formerly considered under the previous culture that existed a “duty” of every Australian to assist in the eradication of feral pests);
• the great increase in the spread of disease and virus by way of rodents in plague proportions (again, formerly considered the job of children, after school, or even on the way home from school, to use their air rifles to shoot and kill rodent pests. It was a common, almost a meeting ground, for children to line the banks of rivers, water causeways, creeks and large gutter installations to shoot rodents);
• the placing of even greater reliance on the police force to serve and protect (yet almost always, despite their best efforts, the police arrive after the fact and are relegated to a reporting channel or mop-up squad);
• the increased danger to law abiding Australians who own guns from criminals that has accompanied the increased policing of guns and shooting. Gun owners have had their information collected, centralized and released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). With this information, those that desire firearms but are unable to legally obtain them, have been able to target the homes of legal gun owners, for break and enter, home invasion and home assault (all on the rise);
• the evidence that suggests gun ownership could help fight homegrown terrorism- clearly on the rise in Australia;
• the removal of one of the basic “true” sports from the list of activities that keeps children outside, focused on a discipline-orientated activity, engaged and interacting with others (the social value of the sport cannot be priced), and;
• the potential depriving of a sports-obsessed nation from their greatest and most successful sportsman ever (e.g. the Australian David Waters who has made the President’s 100 at the US National Matches at Camp Perry and is a CMP Distinguished High Power Rifleman, the first non- US citizen to have achieved this. To reach his sporting dream, given the absence of such programs in Australia, Waters had to travel frequently to America to train, and expended great financial resources there, instead of his native homeland);
• the denial of a great equalizing sporting activity- one that renders physical size, stature, disability and gender irrelevant;
• the inability for retirees to have a place away from home, rifle clubs and ranges were once a common meeting place for retirees to meet, reminisce and drink tea;
• where rifle clubs once provided a premiere social point for ex-servicemen to meet, and pursue a sporting avenue that they had become familiar with, and skillful at, during their time in the services, this is no longer the case, and;
• the removal of a natural inter-generational connection- such clubs would keep memorabilia, and celebrate special anniversaries, which would assist in teaching history and remembrance to younger members (they would have the opportunity to speak first-hand about the about the history the veterans have been through).
Of the consequences, perhaps least considered in public reporting are the economic. Simple arithmetic leads to the undeniable assumption that the reforms greatly hampered the ability for the economy to have a stimulant worth over 5 billion dollars annually, from areas such as:
• local manufacturing of guns, ammunition, resulting in a big shortage of skills, tradespeople and steel smiths (now overseas);
• shooting equipment (scopes, mats, carry equipment, loading tools, etc.);
• shooting ranges, their management, operations and maintenance staff (often schoolchildren, university students, scouts and cadets would earn pocket money by attending the range events each weekend and marking targets for shooters , thereby learning the value of earning a dollar, and having responsibilities in life);
• construction workers (earthworks, building, fabrication trades), and;
• local economies that previously benefited from organized sporting events for shooters who were local, as well as the short and long distant travelers who often brought their families (hotels, motels, fuel, food outlets, and general shops).
In addition to this, many point out that competitive shooting provided an affordable avenue to local businesses for advertising and sponsorship, who were financially unable to pursue those options with more significant organizations or targets. Through the massive decline in numbers of both competitors and crowds, small and local businesses, previous third-and fourth party beneficiaries have suffered.
These consequences may not rate for the “one life” crowd but for others, they are a substantial consideration in any cross-benefit analysis of gun reform.
Food for thought, America.