This was published in the Morganown, WV Dominion Post yesterday. It's my rebuttal to a letter to the editor from the day prior. The writer of the original letter claimed, as is so often erroniously repeated in America when this is mooted, that Australia has become a free-for-all of criminality and fear since the National Firearms Agreement. I will grant that Australia and America have very different underlying cultures that don't make particular decisions on this immediately parallel; however, if you are going to posit an argument, you have to work from the facts.
As a resident of Australia visiting Morgantown, I must contest a paragraph I read in Scott Watkins’ letter to the edtor (DP-Wednesday). His statement that, “Australia(ns) thought if they were to confiscate all firearms, which they did, their crime rate would plummet. In actuality, once their citizens were disarmed, the crime rate increased dramatically due to the fact that their citizens could no longer defend themselves” is factually incorrect. Since the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) and buyback program in 1996, the crime rate has fallen nationally, though the population has increased significantly. Watkins also implies that the NFA was an attempt to address common crimes in which firearms were used. It was not; the move was in response to a mass shooting and the national discussion that followed. The (conservative) government at the time brought forward legislation to ban weapons that had no practical use other than killing people—one can still, of course, own a hunting rifle in Outback Australia. Since the NFA, we’ve had no mass shootings. Yes, criminals will still obtain weapons and, yes, there are still gun-related homicides; but the argument that “citizens could no longer defend themselves” is spurious and also assumes that Australia had the same gun culture as America.
Australians do not cower in their homes afraid to go out for lack of protection. On the contrary, it's the knowledge that the streets are not awash with guns that provides a sense of safety. The “freedom” sacrificed by discarding these weapons enables the much greater freedom of well-being in daily life.