NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Failure of Gun Laws

December 5, 2003

Restrictive firearm legislation has failed to reduce violent crime in Australia, Canada or Great Britain. Moreover, the policy of confiscating guns has been an expensive failure. Ironically, criminal violence has not decreased, but instead, continues to increase, notes Gary Mauser (Fraser Institute).

Since the introduction of restrictive firearms laws more than 20 years ago, police statistics show that England and Wales are enduring a serious crime wave:

  • In the 1990s, the homicide rate jumped 50 percent, going from 10 per million in 1990 to 15 per million in 2000.
  • Violent crime has increased since the late 1980s and, in fact, since 1996, has been more serious than in the United States.
  • The total homicide rate, after having remained basically flat from 1995 to 2001, has now begun climbing again.
  • Over the past six years, the overall rate of violent crime in Australia has continued to increase; robbery and armed robbery rates continue to rise with armed robbery increasing 166 percent nationwide.
  • The effort to register all firearms, which was originally claimed to cost only $2 million, has now been estimated by the Auditor General to top $1 billion.
  • The final costs are unknown but, if the costs of enforcement are included, the total could easily reach $3 billion.

In contrast, violent crime rates, and homicide rates in particular, have been falling in the United States. The drop in the American crime rate is even more impressive when compared with the rest of the world. In 18 of the 25 countries surveyed by the British Home Office, violent crime increased during the 1990s.

Source: Gary A. Mauser, "The Failed Experiment: Gun Control and Public Safety in Canada, Australia, England and Wales," Public Policy Sources, No. 71, November 2003, Fraser Institute.


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