Gun Law Research Agrees:
1996 Bans Missed the Mark
In the spirit of the 2020
academics have released startling new evidence about the
impact of Australian gun laws, and argue that future
public policy must differentiate between what does and
does not work.
A new peer-reviewed study by Dr Samara McPhedran from
the School of Psychology, and her colleague Dr Jeanine
Baker, shows that the accumulated studies on Australia's
1996 gun bans and half billion dollar 'buyback' do not
point to an impact. The authors say that this provides a
clearer foundation for evidence based policy
development, particularly within the area of suicide
"This research will enhance the ability of policymakers
to build upon inclusive programmes that have delivered
outcomes, such as the National Suicide Prevention
Strategy, rather than pursue measures that do not
achieve the stated goals."
The study evaluated whether past published studies on
the impact of the 1996 laws on firearm related homicide
and suicide are consistent with one another.
"Using different analysis methods and time periods, none
of the four studies found evidence for an impact of the
laws on the pre-existing decline in firearm homicides,"
said Dr McPhedran.
"The statistical outcomes were in complete agreement,
even though the conclusions varied."
According to the new study, disagreement over whether or
not the 1996 legislative changes had an impact has not
arisen from inconsistent results, but from different
ways in which the same results are interpreted.
"We identified a series of interpretive
misunderstandings that give the appearance of
inconsistency. For example, some studies conclude the
laws had an impact on firearm suicides, without
realising that non-firearm suicides also began falling
from the late 1990s onwards."
"This coincides with the introduction of comprehensive
suicide prevention strategies, and implies that social
changes such as greater awareness of mental health
influenced suicides across the board."
The overall consistencies revealed in the review, and
identification of how the appearance of incongruent
findings has been created, show that disagreement can be
put to rest.
"Just as one swallow does not make a summer, a single
study cannot definitively answer whether or not the laws
had an effect. Collectively, though, the research has
become a flock of swallows with a very clear direction."
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