Echoing a desire repeatedly mentioned by President Obama, last week the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial board declared its support for Australian-style gun controls, most notably mandatory gun turn-ins. The comments come following the passage of A2895 in the New Jersey State Assembly, which would require the state to have a minimum number of voluntary gun turn-ins each year, using forfeiture funds and private donations. While conceding that their wish is unlikely to come true, the board insists that unless the voluntary turn-ins are made mandatory, “don’t expect it to make much of a difference.”
The editorial board goes on to tout Australia’s other severe gun controls, such as the country’s registration and licensing laws. Specifically, the Star-Ledger approvingly cites Australia’s lack of respect for the right to self-defense, stating, “Gun owners have to present a ‘genuine reason’ to buy a weapon. A claim of self-defense isn’t enough unless you have an occupational need to carry a gun.” This view is at odds with the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which found that the Second Amendment protects firearm ownership for the “core lawful purpose of self-defense.” Further, it ignores data showing that the majority of American gun owners own firearms for personal safety reasons.
Credit the board’s frankness, at least. Few gun control advocates in today’s increasingly-media conscious age are willing to be so explicit about their views and goals.
The accuracy of the board’s research, however, is another matter. The paper contends that Australia’s strict gun controls have led to a massive drop in violence. However, this isn’t the conclusion reached by the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice in the run-up to the Obama administration’s 2013 gun control push. In a memo that surveyed a variety of gun control measures, including the Australian regime, the author noted:
The Australia buyback appears to have had no effect on crime otherwise. One study (Leigh & Neill 2010) has proven confusing in that its abstract suggests that Australia’s gun buyback reduced firearm homicide rates by 80%, but the body of the report finds no effect. Others (Reuter & Mouzas 2003) have used the same data and also found no effect on crime although they also noted that mass shootings appear to have disappeared in Australia. A third study (Chapman et al 2006) using Australian data from 1979 to 2003 shows that the firearm homicide rate was already declining prior to the firearm reforms and that there is no evidence that the new legislation accelerated the declines. This remains true when data through 2007 are added to the analysis (conducted by G. Ridgeway on 1/3/2013 at NIJ).
Regardless of the misinformation in the editorial, the piece is useful as an unfiltered glimpse into the minds of gun control supporters. Gun control advocates will not be satisfied until Americans are forced to turn their firearms into the government. This viewpoint, shared so vividly by the Star-Ledger editorial board, also illustrates why gun owners must fight firearms registration and restrictions on private transfers. Such measures facilitate gun control activist’s ultimate goal of involuntary turn-ins/confiscation.
Perhaps coincidentally, the news this week suggests the Star-Ledger editorial board have a comrade in gun control, literally. On September 22, BBC reported that Venezuela’s United Socialist Party President Nicolas Maduro will be spending $47 million on a gun turn-in initiative to help enforce the country’s stringent gun laws. Maduro is the decidedly undemocratic hand-picked successor to the notorious Hugo Chavez.