The school shooting that occurred two months ago in Parkland, Florida has kicked off one of the most vigorous pushes for gun control in modern American history.
The vultures of the Democrat Media Establishment have decided a group of teenage survivors of the massacre are the new spokespeople for gun control and how dare anyone question this. At CNN’s special Town Hall gun control ‘debate’, students were given free reign by host Jake Tapper to pile slanderous accusations on Republican Senator Marco Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. Survivor Cameron Kasky began a question; “Senator Rubio it’s hard to look at you and not look down the barrell of an AR-15 and look at Nikolas Cruz”. While Dana Loesch answered a question, members of the crowd could be heard shouting “murderer!”
A part of this gun control push involves media outlets holding up Australia as the shining example for how America should do gun control, despite the fact that both our Prime Minister and Ambassador to the US have acknowledged the situations are not comparable at all.
The ‘Australian model’ of gun confiscation is highly attractive to gun control advocates because it fits their perfect narrative of a developed country successfully embracing gun control; In the 18-year period between 1978 and 1996, 13 mass shootings occurred. In 1996 the worst of these, the Port Arthur Massacre, occurred at a popular tourist site in Tasmania.
Just 12 days after this massacre Prime Minister John Howard of our conservative Liberal Party enacted legislation banning private sales, requiring weapons be individually registered to owners and requiring that gun buyers show a “genuine reason” for needing each gun at the point of purchase. Self-defence was and still is not considered a genuine reason for owning a firearm in Australia.
Except that they actually didn’t.
Despite “the most comprehensive reform of firearm laws anywhere in the world”, there have been 3 mass shootings in Australia since 1996.
While there is no universally accepted definition of ‘mass shooting’, The Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, signed into law in January 2013, defined it as a shooting resulting in at least 3 victims not including the perpetrator.
Crime violence research group Gun Violence Archive, whose research is used by all major American media outlets, defines Mass Shooting as “FOUR or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location not including the shooter”.
A 2013 report comparing Australian and US mass shootings defined them as; “largely characterised as the death and wounding of multiple victims from gunshot wounds over the course of a single shooting episode (adapted from Fox and DeLateur, 2014). On most occasions, a single perpetrator is responsible for the shootings, although there are rare instances (such as at Columbine) where multiple offenders are involved.”
The crowd-sourced “Mass Shooting Tracker” updated its methodology in 2016 to the above mentioned Gun Violence Archive definition.
The discrepancy in definition appears to stem from a report written in 2006 which defined a mass shooting as “one in which ⩾5 firearm‐related homicides are committed by one or two perpetrators in proximate events in a civilian setting, not counting any perpetrators”. I could not find this definition used anywhere else and it appears to be entirely adapted for the Australian context since all of the shootings occurring before 1996 in Australia involved 5 or more deaths.
The only definition that this could be based off is the one requiring four or more killed in a single incident at the same general time and location [regardless of weapon], which is the FBI definition of mass murder.
There was an Australian mass shooting in 2002 at Monash University in which a student armed with six loaded handguns fired at his classmates and teacher, injuring five and killing two. Seven victims shot, two of them dead at the same time and location.
There was an Australian mass shooting in 2011 when a man entered his neighbour’s property with a shotgun and shot four people, killing three and leaving one severely wounded, later entering a siege stand-off with police. Four victims shot, three of them dead at the same time and location.
There was an Australian mass shooting in 2014 where a man killed his wife and three children with a 12-gauge shotgun before shooting himself. Four victims shot dead at the same time and location not including the shooter.
Now you may think the last two should be distinguished as not real mass shootings because they occurred in a home residence, and I would agree, but here’s the problem; 61% of Australian mass shootings occurred in a residence. So if this setting disqualifies an incident from being a mass shooting, the figure of 13 Australian mass shootings between 1978 and 1996 is also incorrect.
I have serious concerns about the carry-on effect of this fake news claim of no mass shootings in Australia since 1996, as the falsehood has now been reported unquestioned by Australia’s ABC News, 9 News, The Guardian, Huffington Post and Sky News and internationally on CNN, LA Times, Slate, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. If you were to quickly check Google for the information, as any regular citizen might do, you will find the lie reproduced as if it were an objective fact;
There is also the inconvenient fact that New Zealand’s rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people fell in the same trajectory as Australia’s and sits only slightly higher (Aus at 1.04, NZ at 1.20), despite NZ allowing unlicensed ownership of semi-automatic AR-15s. In Australia, New Zealand AND the United States, rates of gun deaths have rapidly decreased over the past 50 years despite entirely different government policies to deal with firearms.
This issue highlights the need for a commonly accepted definition of mass shooting. If mass shootings are to be treated as a public health issue and legislative reforms are to be the answer as the American left is demanding, there must be a universally agreed to objective definition or it is simply too easy for journalists or officials to deliberately or negligently misdirect the public.
Pop and Locke is a Libertarian-Conservative Popular Culture and Politics Blog bringing you news and opinions that cut through the mainstream mould. It was inspired by an appreciation for enlightenment philosophy and a passion for our increasingly wacky popular culture.