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Australian Firearms Buyback and Its Effect on Gun Deaths

NCJ Number
Wang-Sheng Lee; Sandy Suardi
Date Published
August 2008
29 pages
This working paper examines the effects of the Australian National Firearms Agreement (NFA) on gun deaths.
The 1996-1997 NFA in Australia introduced strict gun laws, primarily as a reaction to the mass shooting in Port Arthur, Tasmania in 1996 where 35 people were killed. Using a battery of structural break tests, there is little evidence to suggest that it had any significant effects on firearm homicides and suicides. In addition, there does not appear to be any substitution effects, specifically that reduced access to firearms may have let those bent on committing homicide or suicide to use alternative methods. Although gun buybacks appear to be a logical and sensible policy that helps to placate the public's fears, the evidence so far suggests that in the Australian context, the high expenditure incurred to fund the 1996 gun buyback has not translated into any tangible reductions in terms of firearms deaths. The article includes a section which provides a brief review of the literature on the effects of the NFA; a section which introduces the time-series data on homicides and suicides used for the empirical analysis, a section which discusses the econometric model and issues regarding model selection, and a section which discusses the structural break tests employed along with the results when used to analyze data. Tables, references