February 16th, 2013
02:25 PM ET

Howard: Yes, we were stunned by gun law effect

Watch the full interview on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed Zakaria speaks with former Australian Prime Minister John Howard about the impact of gun legislation introduced by his government.

The results are actually quite stunning. The reduction in the rate of gun-related homicide in Australia is 59 percent, if you look at some statistics. By some statistics it's down 80 percent. Gun-related suicide...

Oh, yes.

…65 percent. These numbers must stun even you.

They did. And the issue has been surveyed and researched now over quite a long period of time. So even the most conservative researchers would acknowledge that a group surveyed over such a long period of time producing figures like that, it must mean that the change was beneficial.

And it was not just murders, but when I became prime minister in '96, Australia had one of the highest young male suicide rates in the world. By removing a lot of weapons, particularly in rural areas. The bush as we call it. The potential for young men feeling desperate – and so many of them may have a snap point – and if there's a gun available, it's easy to give effect to their sense of depression and despair. It's a lot harder when you have to use another method to end your life.

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soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. alby mangled

    Make no mistake. Howard's gun buy back program cost the Australian mental health system dearly. Half a billion dollars. May not sound much unless your national population is only twenty three million. There are now just as many guns in Australia as there were pre buy back. FACT. These days there are far MORE home invasions and drive by shootings than ever before. The humble "sawn off" .22 calibre has now largely been replaced with 9mm semi auto handguns. None of us here feel safer, far from it in fact. Thanks for nothing Howard. When a sitting prime minister loses not only his position but also his seat in parliament it gives some idea of his popularity.

    February 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Reply
    • kensocol

      er.....FACT???? Just want to show us the quoted research?

      February 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Reply
    • Phil

      Yes Alby, I feel safer,. You haven't provided facts. Australian crime facts are available for the period 1996 to 2010 if you google Australian crime facts and figures. Rates of all homicides have reduced since 1996 gun laws and plus robberies. What is your reason for spreading misinformation?

      February 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  2. Bort

    As long as there are sad, scared little men in the world, there will be guns. Any primate with an opposable thumb can point a tube and pull a trigger, so congratulations for emulating a chimpanzee. Why doesn't everyone smelt down their guns and turn them into something that can explore the universe? .. Oh that's right, sad scared little men.

    February 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply
    • bill

      Hand to hand is fine one on one but here in the states we have folks bang on a door covered with blood from an intentional bloody nose and draw on a family once inside. Time to try and shoot back with a telescope?

      February 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  3. Fail Burton

    This article is nonsense. I'm not going to go into it fully here, but for those interested, just Google even a tiny bit and you'll see why. We're talking about the 2 to 400 range in Australia. In America it's thousands, so our numbers don't skew as easily. And the decline in murders there is one that is a trend since 1969. The decrease is in line with that trend, new law or no. On the other hand, gun violence in Australia has not been going down. This is an Obama ad with context purposefully left out.

    February 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      Hi Fail, you've failed to provide any facts. The sample size is smaller in Australia, yes. Doesn't mean it's not valid to compare to America does it? Where are your facts to say gun violence has not been going down. I say you are wrong and the stats are available to check just look up Australian crime facts and figures.

      February 19, 2013 at 3:03 am | Reply
  4. Asi

    "gun related..." yes, but what about the totals?

    February 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      Hi Asi, total homicides have dropped from 354 in 1996 to 260 in 2010, google Australian crime facts and figures. Also violent robbery has decreased.

      February 19, 2013 at 1:13 am | Reply
  5. Integument

    Australia may well have reduced gun deaths by restricting access to guns but how about the jobs of those employed in the gun industry? Don’t they matter? Less guns means less jobs.

    February 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Guess they got another job, Australia's unemployment rate is 5.4%.

      February 19, 2013 at 1:17 am | Reply
  6. david

    One reason for the drop of gun deaths in Australia is that the gun buyback cleared Australian sheds and closets of thousands of cheap and nasty Stirling .22 semi automatic rifles. These pieces of junk were the tool of choice for armed robbers and home suicides. Just the removal of these weapons alone made a huge difference.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Reply
  7. doc

    Now, instead of shooting themselves, they either hang themselves or drive a car at high speed into an immovable object- usually a tree. Suicide rates are still high, and mental health funding is totally pathetic and getting worse. Gun laws haven't prevented people acquiring weapons unlawfully- it's just gone underground.

    February 19, 2013 at 12:38 am | Reply
  8. Jim

    Hi Doc, last available stats for suicide rate in Australia was 9.7 per 100,000. US was 12 per 100,000. So high compared to what? It's not really expected that gun laws will stop car accidents and cure mental health. Gun related deaths are dropping, includes deaths due to underground / illegal weapons.

    February 19, 2013 at 1:29 am | Reply
  9. Freddy Marcel

    Now, according to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate, Australia has less than every single Nordic nation AND Canada, so much for that theory of "dangerous, disarmed and lawless Australia". I've been there and it is paradise, I hope they keep it that way, and without guns!

    February 19, 2013 at 1:38 am | Reply
  10. mitri

    why not just require all guns to be covered by insurance, rates to be determined by the costs of damage done to any victim? then we change the dialog from ownership rights to the value fo life itself..

    February 19, 2013 at 1:40 am | Reply
  11. Freddy Marcel

    As for suicide, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate, America has Australia beaten by a long shot. So much for the "Australia, they want to kill themselves" brapple.

    February 19, 2013 at 1:41 am | Reply
  12. Magneto

    To be blunt I don't think many people living outside the U.S. give a monkeys if you all shoot each other. Photocopies of all your pathetic ammendments can be used to line your coffins.

    February 19, 2013 at 1:42 am | Reply
  13. Freddy Marcel

    Uh-oh! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_Index, the score is 6-13, but don't worry America, you did beat Canada! And Zimbabwe!

    February 19, 2013 at 1:45 am | Reply
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    February 19, 2013 at 2:36 am | Reply
  15. Ok

    It's funny that people think the government is lying on guns but the media is telling the truth. It's like the state farm commercial where the girl thinks that everything on the internet is true.

    People will believe anything that supports their argument and will rarely look at the other side of the issue.

    February 19, 2013 at 8:11 am | Reply
  16. moar gunz!!!

    wii ned moar gunz 2 pertek uz frum pepl wit moar gunz dan wii hav. wii don lyk u demokrates cuz u unly wunt 2 tayk wey r gunz n jezuz 2. wii don lyk u demokrates 2 raz taxiz neder. wii don ned taxiz fer skools neder. wii kin bii hom skoold lyk mi dady en mumy (hiz siztr). iv u demokrates raz mi taxiz i wunt bii abl 2 bi nu weelz fer mi hows. ger republikins!!!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2013 at 9:22 am | Reply
  17. Agnar150

    The United States was founded on these laws to bear arms and freedom of speech. It come from the people who were running from the abusive governments of the times in England, Germany and others. If you don't agree with our laws then you should just turn around and go back to Europe. Piers Morgan is one of them. Go back to England if you think guns should be band. We here in America don't want tyrannical governments to abuse us.

    February 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Reply
    • FlyingCloud

      >> "If you don't agree with our laws then you should just turn around and go back to Europe. Piers Morgan is one of them. Go back to England if you think guns"

      I'm Native American. Where should I go back to?

      February 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Reply
  18. JustLiberty

    Statistics Matter. I haven't found exactly comparable years, but from 1989 to 2007, the homicide rate in Australia dropped by 31%. In the United States, from 1980 to 2011, it dropped by 53%. By the bare numbers, and the logic of this piece of analysis, the increasing number of guns in the U.S. led to almost the same reduction in homicide (per year) than did the supposed decrease of guns in Australia. Be careful of politicians and CNN reporters using numbers.

    February 19, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Reply
  19. JustLiberty

    I just realized that the article was talking about gun-related homicide etc. What a silly statistic. If you are murdered, it doesn't much matter if it was done by a gun or not. This statistic is often used because many people (idiots including me apparently...) mistake it for the total murder rate and politicians/reporters use it for that effect. There is another complicating factor. If murders overall dropped and the proportion of gun-related murders stayed the same, the rate of gun-related murders would still have dropped, though the restrictions on guns would have had no effects whatsoever. Much (not all) of the reported reductions in gun-related murders just follow the reductions in overall murders.

    February 19, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  20. JohnnyNRA

    According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term [underline added for emphasis], developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of assault rifles.”

    February 25, 2013 at 2:32 am | Reply
  21. Sivick

    Looks like gun control really does work. Can we take the guns away from those tea party manaics who think everyone is out to get them now?

    March 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Reply
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