It’s happened; Hillary Clinton pretty much says that we should consider gun confiscation on a nationwide scale in the vein of what Australia did in the 1990s. At a town hall event in Keene, New Hampshire, a man asked whether such a policy could be implemented here, to which the former first lady said it was “worth considering.” The Washington Free Beacon provided the video and transcript of the exchange:
VOTER: Back to handguns. Recently, Australia managed to get away, or take away tens of thousands, millions of handguns. In one year, they were all gone. Can we do that? If we can’t, why can’t we?
HILLARY CLINTON: Australia is a good example, Canada is a good example, the U.K. is a good example. Why? Each of them have had mass killings. Australia had a huge mass killing about 20-25 years ago, Canada did as well, so did the U.K. In reaction, they passed much stricter gun laws.
In the Australian example, as I recall, that was a buyback program. The Australian government, as part of trying to clamp down on the availability of automatic weapons, offered a good price for buying hundreds of thousands of guns. Then, they basically clamped down, going forward, in terms of having more of a background check approach, more of a permitting approach, but they believe, and I think the evidence supports them, that by offering to buyback those guns, they were able to curtail the supply and set a different standard for gun purchases in the future.
Communities have done that in our country, several communities have done gun buyback programs. I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level, if that could be arranged. After the terrible 2008 financial crisis, one of the programs that President Obama was able to get in place was Cash for Clunkers. You remember that? It was partially a way to get people to buy new cars because we wanted more economic activity, and to get old models that were polluting too much, off the roads. So I think that’s worth considering. I do not know enough detail to tell you how we would do it, or how would it work, but certainly your example is worth looking at. [Applause]
Australia’s gun laws are worth considering? Let’s consult the Law Library of Congress [emphasis mine]:
In 1996, following the Port Arthur massacre, the federal government and the states and territories agreed to a uniform approach to firearms regulation, including a ban on certain semiautomatic and self-loading rifles and shotguns, standard licensing and permit criteria, storage requirements and inspections, and greater restrictions on the sale of firearms and ammunition. Firearms license applicants would be required to take a safety course and show a “genuine reason” for owning a firearm, which could not include self-defense.
Alongside legislative reforms to implement the National Firearms Agreement, a national buyback program for prohibited weapons took place in 1996-1997 and resulted in more than 700,000 weapons being surrendered. Further reforms were later implemented as a result of agreements made in 2002 on firearms trafficking and handguns, as was a national buyback of newly prohibited handguns and associated parts.
Media and policy wonk circles have been crowing about this for years, and now we have the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination saying that a gun buyback program to compliment a hypothetical ban on semiautomatic weapons (which is the vast majority of civilian-owned firearms) is something “worth looking at.”
Again, maybe she means semiautomatic rifles, like the ever-vilified AR-15, but even there there’s no evidence to back up such a ban. Rifles and shotguns are rarely used in gun crimes. The 1994 assault weapons ban had zero impact on curbing gun violence. Also, a hunting rifle packs more of a punch in terms of firepower, but we have to start slow with regards to educating our more left-leaning friends about firearms, the associated laws (many of which they back are already on the books), and terminology.
The first problem with this policy is that the Australian model is blatantly unconstitutional. The nations that liberal cite as being the beacons of light for gun control do not have a written constitution like we have, which guarantees a citizen’s right to own firearms, especially for self-defense. That’s how the respective parliaments in the UK, Canada, and Australia can pass what are, in effect, gun bans.
Second, automatic weapons are not widely available for civilian ownership unless one obtains a permit through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Third, no gun owner who is serious would ever partake in such a silly exercise as a gun buyback program. Why would they? Ninety-nine percent of gun owners are law-abiding citizens. They’re not breaking any laws, and they’re not going to willfully disarm themselves because some bleeding heart liberal thinks that it will stop mass shootings. It won’t. Criminals will still have their guns. Also, the government would probably pay a third of the firearm’s price (I’m being generous), so it’s a raw deal to begin regarding this pie-in-the-sky anti-gun agenda. Boston’s buyback program nabbed just one firearm earlier this year. Third, we all know cash for clunkers was a disaster.
Another aspect about the Australia example is that the decline in homicides that some argue was a result of this gun ban/confiscation policy down under is irrelevant. Australia already has a low rate of homicides; it did curb the number of suicides. Yet, the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose a handgun ban, so there’s no getting around that. Plus, suicides aren’t gun violence. They’re tragic, and something should be done to help American families prevent these horrific events from happening. But that debate seems to revolve more with reforming our mental health system that most people agree needs to be revamped and improved. Moreover, South Korea and Japan have very tight gun regulations, which have done nothing to curb their high suicide rates. South Korea’s rate is the highest in the industrialized world, whose origins can be traced back to the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Last, but not least, is the simple fact that Australia’s gun confiscation program straight up didn’t work. Congress won’t pass laws that constitute gun confiscation, we won’t allocate the tens, maybe hundreds, of billions of dollars in the hopes of obtaining 300-350 million guns from civilian hands, we won’t modify law enforcement assignments to execute over 100 million search warrants of the homes that do have firearms within their walls, and we certainly won’t clog the courts with warrant reviews for those houses.
Last Note: Canada tried a long gun registration program. It failed miserably and was exceedingly expensive. Germany and the UK have all tried gun registrations–another red meat anti-gun policy from liberals–which also ended in failure.