What if all guns disappeared?


28-5-2018 Ranking at the top of that list would be lives otherwise lost to suicide. Around 60% of the 175,700 US firearm deaths from 2012 to 2016 were suicides, and half of the 44,000 Americans who killed themselves in 2015 used a gun.

Australia provides compelling real-world evidence that fewer available guns correlates with a significant reduction in deaths – by suicide, and also by gun violence. In 1996, Martin Bryant opened fire on visitors at Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania, killing 35 people and injuring 23. For Australians, that tragedy marked a turning point. People of all political slants supported a ban against semi-automatic shotguns and rifles. In a matter of days, new legislation was enacted. The government purchased newly banned firearms at fair market value and then destroyed them, reducing Australia’s civilian gun stockpile by 30%.

There is no evidence that those intending to commit suicide or homicide simply moved on to another weapon – Philip Alpers

Philip Alpers, an adjunct associate professor at the Sydney School of Public Health, argues that the data shows that the impact of the gun legislation on deaths has been significant. That is the case true even if you take into account other possible explanations and pre-existing declines in suicide and homicide rates. “The result of that was the risk of dying by gunshot in Australia statistically reduced by more than 50%, and in the past 22 years has shown no sign of creeping up again,” he says.

Suicide was a big part of that drop: up to 80% of gun suicides no longer happened. “Suicide went down and surprised the hell out of us,” Alpers says. “Even more so, we were delighted to discover that the displacement of lethal methods did not occur. In other words, there is no evidence that those intending to commit suicide or homicide simply moved on to another weapon.”


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