Tag Archives: Handgun

Did Australia’s ban on guns lower violent crime rates and lower suicide rates?

Guns are for self-defense against criminals
Guns are for self-defense against criminals

Someone asked me about what I thought of Australia’s experience banning the use of handguns for self-defense against criminals, and so I thought I would link to an article from The Federalist, then explain what peer-reviewed studies say about the issue.

Let’s start with The Federalist.

It says:

The argument, as Vox’s headline puts it, is “Australia confiscated 650,000 guns. Murders and suicides plummeted.”

The piece, along with many gun control advocates, cites a Harvard University study whose conclusion begins with this line: “It does not appear that the Australian experience with gun buybacks is fully replicable in the United States.” Not a great start for Vox’s angle, but I digress.

The study doesn’t conclude that “murders and suicides plummeted” in Australia after the 1996 gun ban, as Vox claims in its headline. Instead, it focuses solely on firearm-related murders and suicides.

After the gun ban, violent crime rates were up:

Yes, as with the gun-happy United States, the murder rate is down in Australia. It’s dropped 31 percent from a rate of 1.6 per 100,000 people in 1994 to 1.1 per 100,000 in 2012.But it’s the only serious crime that saw a consistent decline post-ban.

In fact, according to the Australian government’s own statistics, a number of serious crimes peaked in the years after the ban. Manslaughter, sexual assault, kidnapping, armed robbery, and unarmed robbery all saw peaks in the years following the ban, and most remain near or above pre-ban rates. The effects of the 1996 ban on violent crime are, frankly, unimpressive at best.

It’s even less impressive when again compared to America’s decrease in violent crime over the same period. According to data from the U.S. Justice Department, violent crime fell nearly 72 percent between 1993 and 2011. Again, this happened as guns were being manufactured and purchased at an ever-increasing rate.

So although you have fewer firearm-related deaths when you disarm law-abiding civilians, violent crime increases, because there is now NO deterrence to criminals. Even a criminal with a knife can rob, rape and murder someone who is unarmed.

What about suicide rates?


The Australian gun ban’s effect on suicide in the country isn’t any better. While Vox repeats the Harvard study’s claim that firearm-related suicides are down 57 percent in the aftermath of the ban, Lifeline Australia reports that overall suicides are at a ten-year high. The Australian suicide prevention organization claims suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians 15 to 44 years old. So, while Australians kill themselves with firearms less often, it seems they don’t actually take their own lives any less often than before the ban.

So, overall suicides are not down, people simply found other ways to kill themselves. So the gun ban had no effect on the overall suicide rate. But it did raise the violent crime rate. Should we be surprised by this? Actually, this is consistent with peer-reviewed research.

The peer-reviewed research

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.


Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[…]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people. The book by economist John Lott, linked above,compares the crime rates of all U.S. states that have enacted concealed carry laws, and concludes that violent crime rates dropped after law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry legally-owned firearms. That’s the mirror image of Dr. Malcolm’s Harvard study, but both studies affirm the same conclusion – more legal firearm ownership means less crime.

Wayne Grudem explains what the Bible says about self-defense

Theology that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

Reformed Baptist theologian Wayne Grudem speaks on the Bible and the right of self-defense.

About Wayne Grudem:

Grudem holds a BA from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2001, Grudem became Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary. Prior to that, he had taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he was chairman of the department of Biblical and Systematic Theology.

Grudem served on the committee overseeing the English Standard Version translation of the Bible, and in 1999 he was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is a co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He is the author of, among other books, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which advocates a Calvinistic soteriology, the verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, the body-soul dichotomy in the nature of man, and the complementarian (rather than egalitarian) view of gender equality.

The MP3 file is here.

The PDF outline is here.


  • what about turning the other cheek? doesn’t that undermine self-defense?
  • what does Jesus say about the right to self-defense in the New Testament
  • did Jesus’ disciples carry swords for protection during his ministry?
  • why did Jesus tell his disciples to sell their cloaks and buy swords?
  • what about Jesus stopping Peter from using force during Jesus’ arrest?
  • shouldn’t we rely on police instead of our own personal weapons?
  • what about brandishing a handgun vs actually trying to shoot someone?
  • what are violent crime rates in pro-gun USA and in the anti-gun UK?
  • does outlawing guns cause violent crime to increase or decrease?
  • do academic studies show that gun control decreases crime?
  • do academic studies show that concealed carry laws decreases crime?
  • what do academic studies show about defensive handgun usage?
  • do many children die from guns in the home compared to other causes?
  • doesn’t the US Constitution limit the usage of guns to the army and police?
  • what did the Founding Fathers believe about lawful ownership of firearms?
  • What should be the goal of someone who uses a weapon in self-defense?

This is a good example of applying the Bible to real life. We need more of that!

Concealed-carry permit holder uses gun to save woman from attempted rape

Guns are for self-defense against criminals
Guns are for self-defense against criminals

From Michigan Live.


The mother of a woman who told police she was attacked inside an eastside home said she is thankful for neighbors who rushed to her daughter’s aid, including a man who held the alleged attacker at gunpoint then chased him down and helped hold him until police arrived.

“She got lucky,” said the woman’s mother, who is not being identified to protect the identity of the woman. “If it wasn’t for all these people who cared enough to help her, and not turn the other cheek like so many people would, my daughter would be dead right now.”

Jessica Abels, who lives near the spot on Cronk Avenue near Illinois Avenue where the woman was found walking bloodied and naked, said she looked out the window when she heard a woman screaming for help around 2 p.m. Sept. 26.

She saw the woman jump out the window of a nearby vacant home, she said.

“Her eyes were all swollen and she had blood all over her and in her mouth,” Abels said. “She was pretty messed up.”

That’s when the community jumped into action.

Several area residents offered the 21-year-old woman clothing and comfort while a man who holds a valid concealed pistols license ordered the suspect out of the house at gunpoint, according to Flint police.

The man took off running but was chased down by the gun-wielding citizen who, with the help of an undercover auto theft police officer, tackled and held him down until police arrived.

It’s a good thing when a law-abiding citizen is able to defend his neighbors from criminals. And no shots were fired. That’s what is the most common outcome from a defensive handgun usage. Usually, the mere threat of being shot is enough to stop the crime, and deter the criminal. Guns are a way to stop violence. The very rare case where a gun is fired, it is usually a warning shot. There are degrees of deterrence and shooting at a criminal is the last resort. In this case, it was enough to just brandish the weapon.

Doctor shoots man who opened fire on hospital staff

I’ve bolded the interesting parts of the story, which is from USA Today.


A psychiatric outpatient opened fire Thursday inside a psychiatrist’s office at a hospital near Philadelphia, killing his caseworker and slightly wounding the doctor, who shot the gunman with his personal firearm, authorities said.

The suspect, Richard Plotts, of Upper Darby, Pa., was reported in critical condition after the shooting at 2:20 p.m. in an office at the Mercy Wellness Center of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said at an evening news conference.

The unidentified 52-year-old doctor shot Plotts three times and suffered a graze wound when the suspect returned fire, Whelan said at an evening news conference. Two guns were recovered.

[…]Whelan said Plotts, who has a history of unspecified psychiatric problems, and his caseworker arrived at the doctor’s third-floor office about 2 p.m., Whalen said. Soon after, another staffer heard a loud argument and opened the door to find the suspect pointing a gun at the doctor. The worker then closed the door and call 911.

Minutes later, gunfire erupted.

[…]Plotts, described as being in his mid-30s, was in surgery at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. He was shot twice in the torso and once in an arm.

[…]A sign tells visitors to the wellness center to check weapons at the front, a medical technician told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hospital policy allows only on-duty law enforcement officers to carry weapons on campus, a Mercy Health System spokeswoman told the Associated Press.

So there was a “gun-free zone” sign. That didn’t stop the crazy person from coming in with a gun. And thankfully, it didn’t stop the DOCTOR from having a licensed concealed-carry firearm. But what if the doctor didn’t have a firearm? Well, then he’d be dead. The police would NEVER have got there in time to save him. And who knows how many more people the crazy person would have shot? I think this story shows the reason why law-abiding people need to own and carry firearms. When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.

J. Warner Wallace: the difference between murder and killing in the Bible

Here’s former LAPD detective turned apologists J. Warner Wallace to explain what the Bible says about killing vs murder.


I occasionally present a talk on the nature of truth, and as part of this presentation, I discuss the existence of objective moral truth claims. I often ask my attendees if it is ever “OK” to kill someone. Every group typically contains a large number of people who believe the Christian worldview condemns the use of deadly force unilaterally. But the Scripture delineates a distinction between killing and murdering.  “You shall not kill” is actually not a command found in the Ten Commandments. The command from scripture in the original language actually says “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). The Hebrew word for “murder” literally means “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice.”

He then goes over the provisions governing murder in the laws of his home state of California.

And then this:

It’s interesting to note, however, these exceptions are not the invention of modern humans; they are simply a reflection of ancient Biblical Law. The Bible is the source for these modern laws and the exceptions come straight from the pages of scripture:

An accidental killing is not murder:

Exodus 21:12-13
Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.

Numbers 35:22-25
But if without hostility someone suddenly shoves another or throws something at him unintentionally or, without seeing him, drops a stone on him that could kill him, and he dies, then since he was not his enemy and he did not intend to harm him, the assembly must judge between him and the avenger of blood according to these regulations. The assembly must protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood and send him back to the city of refuge to which he fled.

A killing performed in self-defense (or in defense of one’s home) is not murder:

Exodus 22:2
If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed

A killing performed in an attempt to save the life of an innocent person is not murder:

Exodus 2:11-12
One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (God did not judge Moses as a murderer because he was protecting the life of the slave)

Genesis 14:14-16
When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. (God did not judge Abram as a murderer because he was protecting the life of Lot)

Killing becomes murder when (and only when) it is not properly justified, and the justifications are clear: you can use whatever force necessary to protect your own life from a hostile aggressor, or to save the life of an innocent from such imminent, life-threatening danger. The difference between the legal or illegal use of deadly force is really a matter of motiveintent and justification, and these distinctions come straight from the pages of Scripture.

Previously, I wrote a post featuring the famous theologian Wayne Grudem, where he takes a look at the concept of self-defense in the Bible and concludes that it is justified.