Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Misinformation about international gun laws

I don't know why, but the NRA and those involved with guns like to talk about Australian gun laws and how their strict gun laws just aren't working well. This article shows the opposite to be true. Homicide rates are at the lowest they have been for 20 years. Most of the homicides are from stab wounds with firearms homicides coming in at only 12% of the total. It is also interesting that: "The use of firearms in homicide increased slightly on 2006-07 (nine per cent) but is down sharply from 25 per cent two decades ago.

The report said in most cases firearms used in homicide were unregistered and the gun users unlicensed. The proportion of firearm murders committed with handguns is 20 per cent, compared with 54 per cent in 2005-06." The national homicide rate overall is 1.3/100,000. Gun deaths account for a small percentage of this rate. Also of note: " The report said in most cases firearms used in homicide were unregistered and the gun users unlicensed." 
It actually turns out that the gun homicide rate has gone down but the gun lobby still likes to claim otherwise. If you read this analysis, the facts are discerned and explained so as to make sense of what is really happening in Australia as opposed to what the gun guys say is happening. This table shows how much lower the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 is in Australia compared to the U.S. And this number is higher than that reported in the article linked above. Also this link shows somewhat more current and similar data.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, there is only one gun shop in the entire country, located in Mexico City. We all know that Mexico is awash with guns and that citizens, elected leaders and police officers are shot to death by the thousands there. So when gun laws are so strict in Mexico, how does this happen? The NRA and its members want us to believe that our country has nothing to do with this. How does this make sense? It just doesn't. It's common knowledge that many of the guns come from our own country where gun shops and gun shows are prevalent in the states bordering Mexico. The exact numbers of guns coming from our country to Mexico are less important than trying to stop the carnage. Whether 10% or 90% ( the number typically used) of guns traced in the killings in Mexico come from the U.S is not the issue. Even 10% would be too many considering the carnage in Mexico. As a country, we should be owning up to this and accepting the responsibilty while trying to help Mexico stop the shootings. We are turning our backs on the facts and dealing with hyperbole and senseless arguments when we should be talking common sense

Why does common sense take a back seat to the facts? Ask the NRA leadership. Ask President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. Ask your own Congressman or Senator. You will find the answer in the skewed influence wielded by the gun lobby that is actually costing lives in another country. This is unacceptable and shameful.


  1. Since you agree that the actual numbers of firearms coming from the US into Mexico is questionable -- wouldn't it be better to attack the source of the violence (the Cartels)? Better yet, attack the source of the market for their product?

    The US has a booming drug market. Seal the border. Cutting off the market will eliminate the cartels.

    I doubt that putting restrictions on purchases in the US will have the effect you're looking for in Mexico. They'll find markets elsewhere - Eastern Europe, North Korea, Pakistan, even China are all arms exporters who'd be happy to supply fully automatic weapons to such groups.

  2. That might all be true, Pat. It's too bad we didn't start dealing with this when the trouble started some years ago. I say the numbers are not important, not that they are questionable. I knew that some of you would just start attacking me for numbers even though almost everything says that 80-90% come from the U.S. But I did state that we should be trying to do something right now to stem the tide. We can't just throw our hands up and forget about it. That would not be right. Yes, the things you mention are also solutions. But one solution is to at least try to stop some of the guns at their source. The message would get out that those gun sales will be looked at with a keener eye along the border. There is enough proof of bad apple gun dealers who allow the sales to happen and of private sales at gun shows where no background check is required. I'm saying that our part in this is very big. From the demand for drugs to the providing of guns. It's a huge problem requiring a comprehensive approach. To leave the gun sales and trafficking out of it just because of fear of the gun lobby is totally irresponsible.

  3. " So when gun laws are so strict in Mexico, how does this happen?"

    How do the cartels get helicopters, submarines, and rockets? When you have a corrupt government and no border security, all things are possible.

    If we stopped all gun trafficking from the US to Mexico, citizens, elected leaders and police officers would still be shot to death by the thousands there.

  4. If you are only after sensible regulations, you shouldn’t point to Australia (where they confiscated and destroyed 700,000 firearms) as an example of gun control. You’ve said yourself that the Brady campaign is not trying to take away guns. That said, Australia is at a 20 year low in murders, but we are at a ~40 year low here. Yes, our overall rates are higher, but we’ve been doing something right over the last two decades, and we got to keep our guns. Let’s keep it up.

  5. Its simple supply and demand Joan. If the supply (whatever the % may be, the 90% was proven to be incorrect by Politifact.com, but the actual number is questionable) coming from the US is restricted or cut-off -- markets elsewhere will make up the demand with whatever they're not already shipping to Mexico. Focusing solely on whatever quantity of "limited" semi-automatic weapons coming into Mexico from the US is short-sighted.

    The Mexican drug trade is a serious national security issue for us here in the US. If the violence spills over the border any more than it does -- people in the US will be looking for any number of different options to stem it. Sealing the border, increasing funding for the Border Patrol, and coming up with other ways to stop the drug flow (instead of California's version of legalizing Marijuana). Additional funding and training for the Mexican military would be a good idea as well. The members of Mexico's army unfortunately find it more lucrative to sell their allegiance to the Cartels (along with their fully automatic weapons, grenades, explosives, etc.) This corruption makes it harder for the legitimate forces battling the Cartels to succeed.

  6. First of all, it is NOT true that guns were confiscated in Austrialia. Secondly, if you think that 30,000 deaths a year and up to 100,000 total gun deaths and injuries is acceptable, don't comment any more on my blog.

  7. Hello everybody. I said that there needs to be a combination of things done to stem the violence in Mexico. All the things you guys mention PLUS dealing with the gun trafficking. If you don't think so, you are not interested in stopping the shootings of Mexicans and, for that matter, the violence that spills over into our country. Luckily, no one is being beheaded such as Governor Jan Brewer had the temerity to say when she was running. You just can't believe everything you hear. But I do believe what is going on in Mexico and the facts are clear- our guns are helping the violence. You can try to deny it but you can't make up your own facts.

  8. "First of all, it is NOT true that guns were confiscated in Austrialia"

    Demonstrably not true.

    "The new laws would virtually ban private possession of pump-action shotguns and all semiautomatic firearms (even of .22 rimfire caliber) and provide for the government to pay people over the course of a year (up through September, 1997) to *TURN IN SUCH FIREARMS FOR DESTRUCTION*." From the link below(emphasis mine)


    Tell me...what exactly is the functional difference between confiscation and forced sale under penalty of law?

    On a side note: how does one italicize text when posting here? I'm not to keen on 'YELLING' to emphasize a portion of text.

  9. Good point, Words. From Wikipedia, it is officially called a compulsory buy back program and there may not be a functional difference: " The Australian gun buybacks of 1996 and 2003 were compulsory compensated surrenders of newly-illegal firearms. They are therefore not directly comparable with the US-style voluntary buybacks.
    The 1996 Buyback took 600,000 newly illegal sporting firearms, including all semi-automatic rifles including .22 rimfires, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns. The publicity and use of the misleading framing 'automatic and semi-automatic' term gave the impression that the main target was what are called in the US media 'assault weapons', but almost all were sporting rimfires and shotguns. Because the Australian Constitution prevents the taking of property without just compensation the Federal Government decided to put a 1% levy on income tax for one year to finance the compensation. The buyback was predicted to cost $A500 million and had wide community support.
    The 2003 handgun buyback compensated the confiscation of about 50,000 newly illegal pistols, the majority being target arms of greater than 9mm calibre (generally used for IPSC competition), or smaller handguns with barrels less than 4" such as pocket pistols, which were mostly licensed for target use as since 1996 licenses cannot be issued for self-defense in Australia. Even anti-gun activists criticised this exercise as pointless because almost all of the confiscated firearms were immediately and legally replaced with others that met the new rules."

    I don't know how you italicize text when posting. I know how I do it from the blogger's site. Maybe using Word and then transferring your comment into this space?

  10. +1 for recognizing and admitting a mistake!

    It's also interesting that these sort of confiscations were actually pretty popular in Australia. There's probably a major and insurmountable culture difference.

    Making things italic has been a constant annoyance on other blogs for me as well! If this is italic, HTML tags work.

  11. It's italic all right. But I am still not thinking that you can call what happened in Australia a gun confiscation in the strict meaning of the word. By the way, it seems to have worked pretty well since gun deaths are way down. But that's Australia. What works in one country does not necessarily work in another. We know that it won't work in the U.S.

  12. Joan, other countries also produce firearms. Off of the top of my head I can list; Brazil, Korea, China, Russia, France, Finland, Italy, South Africa, Germany, Spain, India, Japan, Australia, Czech republic, Serbia, Poland, and Pakistan.

    100,000 firearms seized by the Mexican government. 18,000 of those submitted for US tracing (meaning the rest are obviously not from the US). Of those traced 7,900 were traced to US FFL buyers. Clearly by those numbers 7.9 percent of seized Mexican firearms come from the US. That means 92.9% of "black market" firearms in Mexico come from somewhere else than the US civilian gun market. These numbers come from ATF assistant director William McMahon. The 90% myth comes from the fact that 90% of the firearms submitted for tracing do origninate in the US, but more than half of those 18,000 trace back to State Department approved exports.

    I'm not asking you to change your stance, I'm just asking you to reflect the truth. The WAPO hasn't been truthful on this matter, but you can be.

  13. What would it take to qualify as a 'confiscation' in the 'strict meaning of the word'? Government agents forcing their way into a home and taking them?

    Even the Wikipedia article you quoted used the word 'confiscated' twice in the last paragraph. A rose by any other name.....

  14. Japete, I never said our violence rates are “acceptable”. That is a word you put in my mouth. What I said is we are around a 40 year low in murder rates, and let’s keep that downward trend going.

    Regarding Australia, whether you call it confiscations or not, this is NOT something that you or the Brady Campaign wants to see in the states, right?

    Japete: “We know that it won't work in the U.S.”

    As in it won’t have a positive effect, or you couldn’t get it done?

  15. Wordsmeanthings, put an “i” inside <> to start the italics, and a “/i” inside the brackets to end them.

  16. I choose to believe the Washington Post whose reporters have done a stellar job of reporting on something that needs to be exposed. Your numbers are just wrong according to all the reliable sources that have reported on this.

  17. We couldn't get it done. There is no doubt in my mind or likely anyone else's that if ALL guns were confiscated, gun deaths and injuries would be reduced. Right? But given the number of guns in our country and the rights to keep and bear arms, not given to any other country, it would be impossible physically to confiscate all the guns and not possible constitutionally. So you guys should rest easy. No one is coming for your guns. In Australia, they did it through a "buy back" program which was mandatory. In the articles I have read, there was a lot of support for what the government did by the public but the inevitable complaints from some. Given the small number of gun deaths in Australia compared to a lot of other countries, I guess you could call it a success. And it was done after several mass shootings. The government and the public reacted by dealing with the guns- something that has not happened in this country.

  18. We'll go ahead and argue semantics all week here -- it removed firearms from otherwise law-abiding holders. You can debate what to call it, but the effect was the same.

    The action was also hastily run through Parliament by a Prime Minister with an agenda - without listening to what the people of the Commonwealth had to say; poor communication skills. Luckily, the people of the United States are much better organized and well-read these days (thanks to the Internet).

    Besides the one Wikipedia entry -- show me where it was "...actually pretty popular." (there's no cit-able reference to this 'popularity' in the Wiki entry). Based on cited references further down in the article -- it would appear that there was opposition and contention over its effects.

  19. Pat- " After a decade of very public gun massacres such as Queen and Hoddle Streets and Strathfield Plaza, an overwhelming majority had had enough of anyone with a grudge gaining easy, mostly legal access to weapons designed expressly to kill a lot of people in a very short time." from this source- http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/a-shot-at-safety/2006/04/27/1145861484114.html?page=fullpage Also another quote from this article ( I found a few others said mentioned the public support for this, by the way) " The new laws specifically targeted mass shootings, banning rapid-fire rifles and shotguns, the weapon of choice in many such crimes worldwide. In the 1996-97 Australian firearms buyback, 643,726 of the newly prohibited guns were bought by the Government from firearm owners at market value, funded by a small surcharge on the Medicare levy. Tens of thousands of gun owners also voluntarily surrendered additional, non-prohibited firearms without compensation. All up, more than 700,000 guns were removed from the community and destroyed. No other nation had ever attempted anything on this scale."

  20. Pat-I am ending this back and forth about whether Australian gun laws were popular or not. There is no sense in continuing it. The laws are what the laws are and they are working. I have other things to do today and I hope you do, too. Stay safe out there in the potential icy conditions.

  21. See, there's an argument for your side. Slipping and falling on ice, while carrying a concealed weapon could cause back injuries! :)

  22. Or, it could cause the gun to accidentally discharge, which has happened in incidents I have linked to, and shoot you or someone else accidentally.

  23. I figured you'd say that...just an FYI, most carry weapons have a trigger-lock style safety that prevents that from happening. Mine do -- as does everyone else I know...we're not interested in shooting ourselves, despite your insistence to the contrary.

  24. I agree. I am sure you don't want to shoot yourself or others. It's just that it sometimes happens and since guns are dangerous, it's different than making a mistake with something else that might not be used properly.

  25. Thanks so much for that fantastic article about Australia. The very guys who had been telling a different story about Australia will now jump right past the issue of whether or not gun violence has diminished there and latch onto their favorite issue, confiscation.

    They should all first admit they were wrong about Australia's strict gun control, especially since they like it so much when you admit you were wrong.

    Gun control works. That's the fact. Common sense should be enough, but Australia provides proof.

  26. The stats comparing the US to Australia are pretty clear:

    According to your article, Australia went from a 1.9 per 100k homicide rate in 90/91 to a 1.3 rate in 2007. From my math that's a drop of 31% (which is nice).

    In that same period, the U.S. went from a 9.8 homicide rate to 5.9, a drop of 40%. FBI UCR report, which is far greater than Australia's percentage wise.

    Huh ... so in a period where we expanded concealed carry to 40 states, expanded gun rights throughout, added castle doctrine to many states, got rid of a silly assault weapons ban, and finally accepted that owning a firearm is a RIGHT guaranteed by the constitution ... our murder rate went down faster than in Australia where they gave up all their gun rights.

    How'd that work out for them again? How much lower would their murder rate be if they joined us in going our way with increased liberty?

    Australia had a low murder rate before their gun ban, and a low murder rate afterward. Except for a very small dip they've seen no benefit.

    And while that small dip is a good thing and may even be attributable to new laws ... it was short lived.

    If we could bring the homicide rate in this country down to what it is in Australia by passing a few laws I'd be with you. But if the percentile effect was so minimal in Australia ... why would we assume it would be greater here?

  27. Hard to make that causal relationship. I wonder if you remember that the Brady Law went into affect in that period of time? Our total number of gun deaths per 100,000 is closer to 14. I count them as well. Our country has among the highest rates of gun suicides. The facts are the facts. You just refuse to believe that gun control laws can actually work to reduce homicides.

  28. You can check this site, Stephen- http://www.allcountries.org/gun_deaths_by_country.html

    The problem is that it's old. It's hard to find a current number. But from looking at several sites, it is clear that the U.S. has the most or comes in second to other "civilized countries not at war" for gun deaths per 100,000. Australia is pretty much at the lower end. Countries with stricter gun laws have lower gun death rates.

  29. Stephen's data is more current, and shows an associated drop in homicides. Within the data, I wish there was a way to show whether a death was gang or drug related. I think the stats, excluding that segment of the population, would show a different story. Continuing to compare law-abiding firearm owners with thugs and gang-bangers isn't a fair comparison.

    The "Italian Seagull" would like us to believe that gun control corrects all crime, and make the world a happy pink place...that's simply not shown by the data. (Seagulls on internet forums come in seldom, make a lot of noise, leave a little deposit on everything, and then leave).

  30. And Pat, of course no one on your side ever acts as a "seagull". I sure am learning a lot from you guys- name calling for one. It is amusing at times.

  31. The thing is, Japete ... it's ridiculous to include suicides by guns. At this site you can see historical suicide rates in Australia. The graphs don't include the year that they put their draconian anti-gun measures in place, but from the analysis included you can see there was no shift in the suicide rate as a result of gun control. I wouldn't doubt the suicide rate by gun dropped, but so what? People who want to commit suicide will find a way. Killing yourself is easy, and has nothing to do with gun availability. As is proven by the fact that in the US, with all our guns, we do not have a higher suicide rate than other developed countries.

    And in terms of the Brady Bill ... since anyone can still buy a gun from a private party, how effective is it? As you like to talk about ... anybody can buy guns that wants to.

    But the bottom line is ... there was only a tiny blip in homicides in Australia (or England) when guns were basically outlawed, and less then that in Chicago or D.C. here in the U.S. The facts are the facts.

    You just hate guns, and refuse to believe/understand that gun control laws don't work to reduce homicides. Such laws just reduce personal liberties, and take away an important and historic empowerment of American citizens -- both as individuals and as a counter balance to government.

  32. Stephen is like a magician when he starts quoting stats. It's all about smoke, mirrors and misdirection.

  33. I don't see what Australia has to prove when you just have to look at Chicago to see what a failure gun control has been.

    But since you mentioned the Australian Satellite article let me make a few observations. 67% of their murders were caused by knives or BEATINGS while only 12% were from gunshots. So perhaps Australia should outlaw knives and fists too? Just like Australia the UK now has more knife/bat/screwdriver/crowbar related crime. http://www.bbc.co.uk/search/news/knife?video=on&audio=on&text=on

    Also note that these crimes are mostly isolated to domestic crimes among the indigenous popluation. Despite being "only 2.5 per cent of the overall population", their murder rate "is seven times higher than the equivalent victimisation rate for non-indigenous Australians". So rather then address the real issues Australia has simply banned firearms from everyone. But since "in most cases firearms used in homicide were unregistered and the gun users unlicensed" no amount of gun control will be able to stop this kind of crime. Since 60% of all of their murders were DOMESTIC violence, perhaps allowing women to be licensed gun owners would actually REDUCE the "victimisation rate for non-indigenous Australians".

    As to Mexico, well they are using grenades and rocket launchers too so likely they have sources beyond USA based gun shows. The most violent of the cartels are Los Zetas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Zetas) and are former Mexican special forces soldiers who now steal from Mexican military armories and buy guns directly from corrupt govt employees. According to NatGeo the cartels have even crossed into the USA and kidnapped people while wearing Mexican uniforms.

  34. Australia had 35 gun homicides compared to the U.S. about 9500 in the most recent data available. Their gun death rate is far far below that of the U.S. That is the point I was making in case you missed it. As for Mexico- I still don't know why you guys are so defensive of the fact that most of the guns used in the Mexican senseless carnage come from our own country. Why won't you admit it and try to change it? You would be doing a very good thing. Instead, you try to divert with all kinds of other facts like the ones you cited above.

  35. Because 12% (or 10% depending on who you listen to) of guns isn't "most"? Look, the 90% has been debunked over and over again. Because the cartels get "most" of their weapons from black markets from South America, Africa, and Eastern Europe? As we have pointed out, time and time again, they are not getting fully automatic weapons, grenades, and rocket launchers from gun shows. IF those items came from the U.S., they were sent there from our federal government. Hell, many of the grenades I see in the pictures are Russian, not U.S.

    You want us to affect change on something that we cannot control (in terms of the firearms) and have very little to do with. I don't need to try your changes to know what the end result will be. Nothing.

  36. Show me where it has been debunked and don't send me a blog post written by a gun guy. It should be a neutral source that shows different figures.

  37. I can't find support for my number but I can debunk the 90% which is what you asked.


    Obama, April 16: A demand for these drugs in the United States is what is helping to keep these cartels in business. This war is being waged with guns purchased not here, but in the United States. More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border.

    Obama would have been correct to say that 90 percent of the guns submitted for tracing by Mexican authorities were then traced to the U.S. The percentage of all recovered guns that came from the U.S. is unknown.

  38. And I forgot to mention that even those number that Factcheck quoted doesn't say which US source. Federal, military, private, gun shop, gun show, etc.....

    THOSE numbers would be really interesting and I would think they are needed to figure out what measures would be the most useful to stop the biggest problem.

  39. Hey, thanks for this one, anon. It is really useful information to have. I think I have been saying the guns that were traced but may have made the same mistake others have. Here's what I liked about this article: "There's no dispute that thousands of handguns, military-style rifles and other firearms are purchased in the U.S. and end up in the hands of Mexican criminals each year. It's relatively easy to buy such guns legally in Texas and other border states and to smuggle them across." I think I have been saying this, right? Also, the last statement: " Whether the number is 90 percent, or 36 percent, or something else, there's no dispute that thousands of guns are being illegalIy transported into Mexico by way of the United States each year. " I have also said pretty much that. Also, didn't you just love it that Fox News is wrong with their figures as well?

  40. Why would I love it that Fox News is wrong? I don't have anything to beat Fox News up for. I still prefer them as my newsource over the other big guys as I feel they are less biased (which is not to say unbiased).

    What I would like to see is journalists going back to telling a story without an agenda. They use to work hard against their own personal bias. Now it's mainly "oops, my bias is showing". Instead of "truth", we have a version of "truth" from both sides, no matter the topic.

    I find it ironic that you asked for a source not being a gun blog... Take how you were thinking at that moment of typing that and you will understand how we feel when people post from the Brady website or the VPC. I'm guessing that you are presuming that the gun blog guy is going to be biased and or lie. We assume that of the VPC and BCAGV...