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Australia Armed Robberies: Up 166%

The world has seen it time and time again: taking away the gun rights of the general population increases violent crime rates. Why? Because criminals will always have guns, and if they know the general population is unarmed, well, then that just makes it all easier:

Australians spent at least half a billion dollars to collect and destroy hundreds of thousands of legally owned guns, and the result? No decrease in violent crime, armed robberies up by 166%. These disturbing trends have given a new weapon to the North American gun lobby, which also points to a dramatic drop in violent crime in the U.S. during the same period, as state after state -- 20 in the past two decades -- relaxed the rules for carrying concealed handguns for personal protection.

Go ahead and read it yourself. The case will come down to one thing: was her life in danger at the time she shot the robber? If he was about to drive away, then no. I cannot shoot a burglar in the back as he races across the street after invading my house. I can, however, shoot him while he's performing a felonious act.

Was the robber still in the process of committing a crime for which the deadly use of force is allowed? That's up to the court system to decide. In Florida, I imagine she'd be cleared of any charges fairly promptly. As to why she feels bad, well, should I ever find myself in the situation where I have to shoot someone who is beating me nearly to death, well, I don't imagine I'll feel much remorse. My hand - and choice - will have been forced by the violent acts of a criminal.

28 Responses to "Australia Armed Robberies: Up 166%"

  1. As an Australian, I don't see it unlikely that she would be found guilty of murder. There is almost no precedent for this kind of attack, and there is certainly very little semble of a "gun culture" in Australia. Few people in this country feel sympathy with a killer.

  2. The robber was shot in his car as he was in the act of leaving the premises. Here's some interesting reading.

  3. She will be found guilty of murder, no doubt about it. She was not defending herself at the time of the incident. If anything she was simply seeking revenge.

    What is especially disappointing in this case is that she sold her story to the media before having an interview with police.

    I would love to see the definition of 'armed' in this case as knives are also illegal in Australia. I assume that it includes knives and guns.

  4. I believe that she may be found guilty as well, though arguably the felony was still occurring - she was still in the act of being robbed as the robber was taking property from her. In Florida, I believe that would be sufficient.

    I don't believe it matters whether armed means knives or guns - criminals know that victims won't have guns, so they feel safer committing violent crimes.

    I don't feel much sympathy for someone who would (did) beat in the brains of a woman in order to make off with some quick cash.

  5. Yep. It's definitely up to the jury to decide. I feel sympathy for the woman, especially as she had her skull fractured, but firing the weapon at him after he was fleeing was definitely the wrong decision. It was not her money after all, simply money she was charged with taking care of. Money can be re-earned but lives cannot be.

    I am not sure if you can put it down to the lack of guns. I need more figures in that department and the police should be forthcoming soon with their annual report. I will be deeply interested in the included data though. Guns have been off the streets since 1997, after the Port Arthur massacre and as you could see from the figures listed by Greg, they did suddenly rise, but they are fluctuating too much to be all that telling.

    I know many people are much happier not having armed people on the street, simply because domestic disputes and arguments will not end up with someone needlessly losing their life because the shooter had a brain lapse. If threatened by someone with a gun I will either run away, give them what they want or attempt to pull a prank on them. Putting up a fight and getting shot to stop the loss of my property is simply not worth it. I can re-earn that money in a day, but I don't want to lose the rest of my life because of it.

  6. Mat, your comments are ignorant of statistics and studies done in this country. In this country, armed "victims" are less likely to be killed or even harmed than unarmed victims. The advice "go along with what the criminals say and you won't be harmed" is foolish.

    Nearly every state has concealed carry laws that allow people to carry guns in public, but people do not shoot others simply for getting into an argument. The only argument against gun ownership is an emotional one with little grounding in reality.

  7. Just a comment on the first few lines: There is no concrete evidence to show that increase of guns means a decrease of crime. I'll accept that there is a correlation, but there is a much higher correlation between strong social development, the elimination of poverty, and progressive social programs and a decrease of crime. Just wanting to interject an opinion that guns don't solve crime.

  8. Grayson, you're correct in that there is a correlation - a very strong correlation.

    The US gun population increased dramatically from the 60s through the 90s and violent crimes dropped dramatically in the same time period. Areas with higher percentages of armed citizens have lower crime rates across the board. It's difficult to compare crime rates between countries (what with the different mindset, social programs, etc.), but it's quite easy to compare similar cities in the United States, and they resoundingly support gun ownership as a means of decreasing violent crimes.

    Criminals don't like an armed citizenry. That's only common sense, correlation or "hard evidence" is just complementary to that.

  9. She was not defending herself at the time of the incident.

    I'm not familiar with Australian law, but from a New York State perspective I'd say given that she was placed in a position by the perp where she could not be sure if he would "finish the job" and kill her in cold blood (she was disoriented and said that she "looked up through a bloody haze"), this sounds like a reasonable argument for self-defense. He beat the crap out of her and from her standpoint, she probably thought she was going to lose her life. Thus she used deadly physical force. She could not have known that he didn't get in the car to look for his gun and given what he just did to her seconds before would it have been so surprising? How could she know he wasn't getting ready to run her over?

  10. Areas with higher percentages of armed citizens have lower crime rates across the board.

    It's interesting to note though that the city that contributed to most of the decrease of the overall U.S. crime rate in the 1990s (New York City) does not have high gun ownership. I'm not saying that this negates your argument, but there is a lot to be said about utilizing effective enforcement strategies so that citizens can feel more or less comfortable (which most here do) without feeling the need to carry 24/7.

  11. It seems plausible that directly after stricter gun controls are put in place crime could go up. However I would say that it is likely this is a short-term affect. What really matters is what happens in the long term. I live in Canada, and am very happy the fact that I cannot go out and buy a handgun. It makes me feel safer. Take a look at the difference in crime rate between the US and Canada for a different comparison of gun vs no-gun countries.

  12. Dustin, the fact that you "feel safer" matters not in the least. You are not safer. Studies have consistently shown that. Furthermore, there are plenty of differences between Canada and the US - take the virtual non-existence of slums and "hoods" for example - to qualify as possible candidates. Even Michael Moore admits that Canada's gun ownership is as high as the US's and that gun ownership itself is not a precursor to crime.

  13. Two random things: one, I remember seeing an article recently about a (non-partisan) researcher who found that the drop in crime in the 90's was due to Roe versus Wade. Two, according to the police, most of the burglaries in my part of town are people looking for guns.

    Funny that the government is more interested in what books I'm checking out of the library than how many guns I'm buying..

  14. I remember seeing an article recently about a (non-partisan) researcher who found that the drop in crime in the 90's was due to Roe versus Wade.

    Roe v. Wade? That was a decided in 1973 in probably the most crime-ridden decade this country has ever seen. How is there a correlation between a 70s Supreme Court ruling and the 90s drop in crime? I think somewhere along the lines of 70% of the drop in the 90s was due to New York City alone. The rest can probably be contributed to other departments around the country modernizing their tactics and a strong economy. This is why I'm not sure that higher gun ownership was the main factor, though I'm not going to say that it couldn't have possibly contributed as well. To be fair, I'm not sure that any studies have conclusively shown that gun ownership necessarily decreases crime. But neither has the other side shown that higher ownership has caused any increases (and logic would seem to dictate that we'd see a decrease, if anything). Nonetheless I think that's more or less irrelevant since the Second Amendment does guarantee the right and if responsible people feel they want to own a gun, why not. They're not the ones going out and killing people (aside from the idiots who have gun-related accidents).

    Two, according to the police, most of the burglaries in my part of town are people looking for guns.

    I could see that as potentially being a problem but then all you'd need to do is buy a safe or something to put it in if you keep it at home.

  15. I live in Canada, and am very happy the fact that I cannot go out and buy a handgun. It makes me feel safer.

    You can't just swing by a place here in the U.S. and pick up a gun in 5 minutes either unless you're buying it from illegitimate sources. I think pretty much all states have mandatory background checks and waiting periods.

  16. Brian, how about doing some actual research before guessing as to what surveys, studies, and research has yielded? You may "think" that 70% of the decrease had to do with NYC, but do you know? No. Stop providing what amounts to made-up statistics until you can cite a source. Go read a book or something.

    I agree your opinion on the second amendment and all, but I do think it will be nothing more than affirmed - and your ideas about crime rates in relation to gun ownership - by doing some more research instead of simply guessing.

  17. How is there a correlation between a 70s Supreme Court ruling and the 90s drop in crime?

    Abortion is legalized; twenty years later there's less crime. I won't spell it out because it smacks of eugenics. But there it is.

  18. You can change laws, but you can't change the people. Here in Austria, pretty much the only ones carrying guns is the police. That's because after WW2, nobody was allowed to have any. Now you are, but it's very restricted (for example, I'm not allowed to get any for about 13 years now, since I did community service instead of the military).

    Criminals usually use knives here, they're much cheaper, can be fired multiple times without reloading (at a short distance) and are totally silent.

    Every time a bullet is fired (usually by a nervous policemen) in this city of 3 million people, it makes the headlines in the news, so it's not common at all.

    I've never seen a gun in person, though I think that'll change very soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. It is not possible to buy a gun, over the counter, here in the UK (with a few exceptions). It is possible to buy firearms but the authorities make it so damn hard that, 99% of the time, it just isn't worth it.

    There is gun crime in here in England, but it's comparatively rare. Our regular police force is unarmed (although there are armed divisions).

    Thus, the only time you see a gun in the UK is when you're at the airport.

    Thus, any incident involving a gun is major news here: Special Report: Gun Violence in Britain.

    Personally, I don't see any justification for personal firearms, much less for the right to carry a concealed weapon.

    99.99% of the time: I know that, in the event of a brawl or other violent incident, I can fight back on equal terms. I know that it is extremely unlikely that I might get shot. I know that I can walk around downtown without worrying that a deranged sniper might be in the belltower.

    I'm proud to live in a country that has managed to resist the right to bear arms.

    Having said all that, I DO AGREE that every person has the right to defend his life, his family and his property - God help the man who intrudes on mine!

  20. What the hell does "I'm proud to live in a country that has managed to resist the right to bear arms" mean? A country can't "resist" a "right" and sure as hell shouldn't outlaw it!

  21. Stop providing what amounts to made-up statistics until you can cite a source. Go read a book or something.

    Sure thing, chief. Bratton, William: Turnaround, Random House, New York. 1998. Page 290:

    "The drop in New York's crime rate reflected a national trend. We were the national trend. According to FBI figures, in the first six months of 1995, serious crime throughout the country went down by 1 percent, or about 67,000 crimes. In New York in that same period, there were 41,000 fewer crimes, a 16 percent drop. We were two-thirds of the national decline in reported crime."

    There you have it. Contrary to what you apparently thought, I don't just make these things up. OK, it was two-thirds, so 66%. So sorry for being off by 4%. Further, from a press release from the Mayor's office:

    "New York City represents 25.7% of the national decrease in crime for calendar year 2003; since 2001, New York City represents 49.6% of the national decrease in crime."

    Now, would you like to provide your own sources so that you can substantiate your claim that there is a correlation between gun ownership and crime rates? Because so far all you've shown is two sets of statistics: crime rates and gun ownership. You have not demonstrated a causal relationship between the two.

  22. in the first six months of 1995

    Fair enough, but that hardly covers the period about which we're talking, does it?

    I've never stated that there's a causal link between the two - only that the opposite cannot be true, as what evidence we do have goes the other way.

  23. From the bit of digging that I've done, I've found that it's not easy identifying statistics (either for or against gun control) which are completely absense of bias. One report I've seen against gun control, claiming to be objective, lists numerous NRA reports in its bibliograpy. It appears that statistical cherry picking is common.

    To me, one thing seems self-evident. There are, in general, going to be a lot more gun-related injuries and deaths (of all types รขโ‚ฌโ€ criminal, accidental, etc.) in a society that is armed, and in which guns can be acquired so easily. If, during the 2005 hockey season, knives are issued at the door to all hockey game attendees, I don't think anyone would be surprised to find that many, many more knife related injuries occur during the 2005 season than the 2004 season. (And I guess we can presume that the number of criminals in attendance, carrying knives, would be roughly constant across the two seasons.)

    I would be very interested to see some per-capita gun related accident and death statistics for all industrialised countries. I would expect that the rates would be much higher in the US (and any country) where gun ownership is so prevalent. (And I could be wrong; I haven't been able to quickly find such stats.) And I don't believe the case of Canada disproves what I would expect to be a strong general trend, as there are anomalies found in all trends.

    In my opinion, it would do the average American quite some good to live outside the United States for an extended period รขโ‚ฌโ€ maybe one- to two years (I'm talking about considerably longer than a Summer break). If nothing else, such an experience has a way of bringing to light both the good and the bad, related to many issues central to American society, in ways that can't be appreciated until you've really lived in a place that's considerably different.

    I make this last point, only because in my own case, coming from the southern United States, and being formerly strongly pro-guns, I've seen my own opinions change quite dramatically having lived for a number of years in countries where there's not such a proliferation of guns.

  24. To me, one thing seems self-evident. There are, in general, going to be a lot more gun-related injuries and deaths (of all types ? criminal, accidental, etc.) in a society that is armed, and in which guns can be acquired so easily.

    This is precisely wrong. Israel and Switzerland almost literally require gun ownership, and yet they have some of the lowest murder, assault (etc). rates of any country in the world. Criminals will always have guns - it's anyone's guess how many more murders, rapes, and armed robberies the US would see if we did not have 2.5 million defensive uses of guns each year, and criminals could confidently commit any crime with the knowledge that the victims are 99.9% unlikely to have a firearm.

    One of the first books I've read on this topic is Armed by Kleck and Kates. It hardly mentions the NRA except to suggest that they're far too much in favor of "pro-gun" instead of some middle ground between "give us ANY gun we want" and "take away every gun."

    Clearly, even in the case of Switzerland and Israel, the US has a different mentality, different social stigmas, ideas, and problems than other countries in the world. There is no direct causal relationship between gun ownership and crime rates, and the evidence used to suggest it supports the alternative: that higher ownership decreases crime rates. Certain countries in Africa have very low citizen gun ownership and yet have been suggested to mass murders, ethnic cleansing, and so on - very high rates of murder and violent crime.

  25. There's an old saying: never trust statistics you haven't forged yourself ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. I think most of the problem with this argument lies in the fact that we are discussing different countries. (For example, Erik points out that Canada is almost devoid of 'slums and "hoods"' which are prevalent in America.)

    It is difficult to compare gun control when there is no control example. Each country responds to this issue in their own way. For the most part (information I have seen/read) the restriction on gun ownership in Britain has been a good thing. However, I think that such a policy would not be nearly as effective in the United States.

    You can see the differences very evidently in these comments where Erik notes (and I agree) that the woman who shot her assailant in Australia would likely be found innocent in Florida. And Australians have said that she will most definately be found guilty.

    From this very minimalist example alone, you can see how different each country's situation is. There's really no point in even arguing the issue.

    As far as the U.S. is concerned, I think there is very much truth to the statement "if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns."

    Erik, would you consider yourself a Libertarian? From your views expressed on your site you seem to fit that description very much.

  27. Erik, I'm really disappointed that you decided to publish this totally deceptive piece.

    As explained here, robbery with a firearm in inner Sydney was the only figure that went up -- total robberies in inner Syndney went down, armed robberies in inner Sydney went down, robberies with a firearm in other places went down, etc.

    You owe your readers a correction.

  28. The article stands as linked and my commentary on the article is nothing more than that: commentary.