I’ve been having a look through the policies of the LDP essentially the Australian libertarian party. While I certainly disagree with some of their policies, I could say the same about most other Australian political parties. From my perspective I’m not sure whether they are further away from my positions than either of the two major parties. On most things I don’t disagree with the directions (social and economic liberalism) but am less certain of the positions. I would advocate a gradualist approach seeing how various steps turn out before liberalising further.
While I am not surprised they advocate looser gun laws, I am a little a little surprised by this section:.
There is copious evidence to show that, where gun ownership is high, crime involving actual or threatened violence is reduced. Conversely, when gun ownership is reduced, violent crime increases. Australia’s experience since 1996 and the UK since 1997 are clear confirmation of the latter point.
Now as I understand it while there appears to be little evidence to support the thesis that tightening guns laws reduces crime, conversely it appears to be the same with more relaxed gun laws not decreasing crime either. So why I don’t accept there is “copious evidence” for their statement I accept this is an arguable position. The last sentence however regarding Australia post 1996 is just plain false. The statements by the NSW statistician last year tells this story for NSW.
I would need to see more convincing evidence than there is to be able to say that gun laws have had any effect,” Dr Weatherburn said. “The best that could be said for the tougher laws is there has been no other mass killing using firearms [since Port Arthur].
“There has been a drop in firearm-related crime, particularly in homicide, but it began long before the new laws and has continued on afterwards. I don’t think anyone really understands why. A lot of people assume that the tougher laws did it, but I would need more specific, convincing evidence …
If we look at the ABS report for Australia, the story is similar, homicides both in number and rate have declined, as has attempted murder. Robbery, has fallen across the board. Robbery with a firearm falling more than unarmed, although it should be noted that this rose to almost double in the years 1996-2001 before falling back again. Its pretty easy to see then that these trends were not related to gun control which were not relaxed again in 2001. Rather they support the thesis that the gun laws have little effect either way.
This is enough to argue for relaxed gun laws as if there is no real effect on crime why be so restrictive. I think would be a much firmer basis for the LDP’s position.
It seems that the only category of crime that tight guns laws might protect us from is the mass shooting kind where someone goes crazy and has an easily available weapon to bang away at passers by. Is that alone enough to justify the restrictions? Suicides by gun also declined over the period and faster than the overall rate, indicating it may have had a real effect there. Firearm accidents are also down, but I find that a less compelling reason. A backyard swimming pool also increases the risk of accidental death in the family but is hardly a reason to ban them.
I don’t buy the self defence argument for guns, while you may feel much safer I don’t think you actually are and anyone who doesn’t own one certainly is less safe, most likely the increased deterrence effect roughly matches the increased overall risk by the ease of acquiring one. I also don’t think that guns are the central issue of political freedom that this quote from the LDP policy indicates:
Ownership of firearms is also the only practical means by which the people can retain any semblance of ensuring that governments remain their servants and not vice versa. Although the ballot box and peaceful protest will always be the preferred means of removing unsatisfactory governments, history is full of examples where those options were denied.
That governments may sometimes, in extreme circumstances, need to be violently overthrown is no argument for a permanantly armed citizenship. History as also shown that the citizens will find ways to acheive this if they want it, and Iraq has shown us that citizens with a broad gun ownership may still be unable to remove a tyrant.
Still shooting and hunting are legitimate sports and there are other professional uses on farms etc, and I don’t think these should be overly restricted and there probably is room for relaxing the laws in some situations. Another situation of where I think the direction they want to take things is acceptable but a gradualist approach I would prefer, it would be good though if they could mount a correct argument.