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The term "gun control" means any law, policy, practice, or proposal designed to define, restrict, or limit the possession, production or modification, importation, shipment, sale, and/or use of firearms.

Gun control laws and policies vary greatly around the world. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have very strict limits on gun possession while others, such as the United States, have relatively modest limits. Proponents of gun control generally argue the dangers of widespread gun ownership. Opponents have argued that gun control does not reduce gun-related injuries, murder, or suicide, and some argue that gun control is an instrument of repression used by totalitarian governments, and that such regulation would violate individual liberties.

Terminology and contextEdit

Gun pyre in Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi

A tower of confiscated smuggled weapons about to be set ablaze in Nairobi, Kenya

The concept of gun control is a subset of a much greater, yet equally global, topic, arms control.

In the context of this article, the concept of gun control is in reference to various means of restrictions on the use, transport, and possession of firearms. Specifically with regard to the class of weapons referred to as small arms. On a global scale this context is sometimes expanded to include light weapons; also known in the arms trade as SALW.

From the perspective of military small arms, this encompasses: revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light machine guns (e.g. M60), and sometimes hand grenades, shotguns, general-purpose machine guns, medium machine guns, and grenade launchers may be considered small arms or as support weapons, depending on the particular armed forces. Other groups utilizing these types of arms may also include government sanctioned non-military personnel such as law enforcement agencies.

From a civilian (meaning via private, individual ownership) perspective and varying via legislation from country to country this encompasses a subset of the above list. Usually limited to: revolvers, pistols, carbines, hunting rifles, sporting rifles, and shotguns.

Separate, yet integral, to the concept of gun control are the individuals and companies that comprise the global arms industry.

The arms industry is a global business which manufactures weapons and military technology and equipment. It consists of commercial industry involved in research, development, production, sale, and transport. Many industrialized countries have a domestic arms industry to supply their own military forces. Some countries also have a substantial legal or illegal domestic trade in weapons for use by its citizens. An illegal trade in small arms is prevalent in many countries and regions affected by political instability.



In response to the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, gun law proposals developed from the report of the 1988 National Committee on Violence[1] were adopted under a National Firearms Agreement. This was necessary because the Australian Constitution does not give the Commonwealth power to enact gun laws.

The National Firearms Agreement banned all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and created a tightly restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls. Because the Australian Constitution prevents the taking of property without just compensation the Federal Government introduced the Medicare Levy Amendment Act 1996 that provided the revenue for the National Firearms Program through a one-off 0.2% increase in the Medicare levy. Known as the gun buy-back scheme, it started across the country on the 1 October 1996 and concluded on the 30 September 1997[2] to purchase and destroy all semi-automatic rifles including .22 rimfires, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns. The buyback was predicted to cost A$500 million and had wide community support.

In 2002, the Monash University shooting led the federal government to urge state governments to again review handgun laws, and, as a result, amended legislation was adopted in all states and territories. Changes included a 10-round magazine capacity limit, a calibre limit of not more than .38 inches (9.65 mm), a barrel length limit of not less than 120 mm (4.72 inches) for semi-automatic pistols and 100 mm (3.94 inches) for revolvers, and even stricter probation and attendance requirements for sporting target shooters.[citation needed] In the state of Victoria A$21 million compensation was paid for confiscating 18,124 target pistols, and 15,184 replacement pistols were imported.[citation needed]

One government policy was to compensate shooters for giving up the sport. Approximately 25% of pistol shooters took this offer, and relinquished their licences and their right to own pistols for sport for five years.[citation needed]

There is contention over the effects of the gun control laws in Australia, with some researchers reporting significant drops in gun-related crime,[3] [4] and others reporting no significant effect in gun related or overall crime rates.[5][6][7] The primary source of the controversy is that, while the incidence of firearm deaths has decreased considerably since the 1996 restrictions went into effect, the rates had already been falling for the past two decades prior to the new gun laws. An article by David Hemenway argues that these studies were designed to find nothing. Hemenway writes that the authors of these studies carefully chose the period of study to reflect their desired negative results without giving rationale for the time period they choose to show a supposed decline in Australian gun violence. [8]

Nazi disarmament of German JewsEdit

Gun regulations were among the anti-Semitic laws, regulations, and acts of civil violence enacted by the Nazi regime against Germans whom it considered Jewish,[9][10][11][12][unreliable source?] and were used by Hitler's government to disarm the Jewish population.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17] The Nazi Weapons Law of March 18, 1938 relaxed gun control requirements for the general population, but prohibited manufacturing of firearms and ammunition by Jews.[18] During the initial reports of events that would later be called Kristallnacht on November 9 and 10, 1938, the Police President of Berlin had announced that police activity in the preceding few weeks had disarmed the entire Jewish population of Berlin by confiscating 2,569 of their hand weapons, 1,702 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammunition.[19][20] Shortly thereafter, with the addition of the Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons of November 11, 1938, Jews were forbidden from possession of any weapons at all.[12][unreliable source?][18]

Bolshevist RussiaEdit

In Tzarist Russia personal gun ownership was legal, allowing Bolsheviks and other revolutionaries to import a great number of guns for the purpose of overthrowing the Tzar. For example, in 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War, the ship Sirius delivered to Russian revolutionaries 8,500 rifles paid by the government of Japan. In December 1918 during the Russian Civil War the Bolsheviks made it a crime for citizens other than members of their own party to own guns. Bolsheviks were allowed to own one rifle and one revolver.[21][22][23]

United StatesEdit

Many opponents of gun control consider self-defense to be a fundamental and unalienable human right and believe that firearms are an important tool in the exercise of this right. They consider the prohibition of an effective means of self-defense to be unethical. For instance, in Thomas Jefferson's "Commonplace Book," a quote from Cesare Beccaria reads,

"laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."[24][25][26]

Before the American Civil War ended, state slave codes prohibited slaves from owning guns. After slavery in the U.S. was abolished, states persisted in prohibiting black people from owning guns under laws renamed Black Codes.

The United States Congress overrode most portions of the Black Codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The legislative histories of both the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference of 1867, are replete with denunciations of those particular statutes that denied blacks equal access to firearms.[27]

After the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1868, most states turned to "facially neutral" business or transaction taxes on handgun purchases. However, the intention of these laws was not neutral. An article in Virginia's official university law review called for a "prohibitive tax...on the privilege" of selling handguns as a way of disarming "the son of Ham," whose "cowardly practice of 'toting' guns has been one of the most fruitful sources of crime.... Let a Negro board a railroad train with a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights."[28] Thus, many Southern states imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns—so-called Saturday night specials—in order to price destitute individuals out of the gun market.[29] From this time on, different laws and formalities were put into action concerning firearms. In 1927, Congress passed a law prohibiting mailing concealable firearms. In 1934, The National Firearms Act was passed which regulated only fully automatic firearms. Later down the road Congress created The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 which placed the first limitations on selling ordinary firearms. Any one who sold firearms had to have a license for doing so at an annual rate of $1 and records of personnel purchasing the firearms must be kept record of. The Gun Control Act of 1968 expanded on The Federal Firearms Act on the licenses of firearm sellers and created limits to who was eligible to purchase a firearm, considering criminal background, mental stability, citizenship, and drug abusers.[30]

Studies, debate, and opinionsEdit

High rates of gun mortality and injury are often cited as a primary impetus for gun control policies.[31][page needed] The question of whether gun control policies increase, decrease or have no effect on rates of gun violence turns out to be a difficult question. While a variety of disparate data sources on rates of firearm-related injuries and deaths, firearms markets, and the relationships between rates of gun ownership and violence exist, found that while some strong conclusions are warranted from current research, the state of our knowledge is generally poor.[31]:3, 6 Despite the potential for improved research design, the National Research Council review concludes that the gaps in our knowledge on the efficacy of gun control policies are due primarily to inadequate data and not to weak research methods. The result of the scarcity of relevant data is that gun control is one of the most fraught topics in American politics[32] and scholars remain deadlocked on a variety of issues.[32]

The first cross-national overall comparison of deaths caused by guns was published in 1998,[33] and found substantial variation. The possible factors leading to variation in gun violence among different countries was not assessed. A 2004 review by the National Research Council concluded that, "higher rates of household firearms ownership are associated with higher rates of gun suicide, that illegal diversions from legitimate commerce are important sources of crime guns and guns used in suicide, that firearms are used defensively many times per day, and that some types of targeted police interventions may effectively lower gun crime and violence.[31]:2"

A number of studies have examined the correlation between rates of gun ownership and gun-related, as well as overall, homicide and suicide rates internationally.[34] Martin Killias, in a 1993 study covering 21 countries, found that there were significant correlations between gun ownership and gun-related suicide and homicide rates. There was also a significant though lesser correlation between gun ownership and total homicide rates[35] A later study published by Killias et al. in 2001,[36] based on a larger sample of countries found, "very strong correlations between the presence of guns in the home and suicide committed with a gun, rates of gun-related homicide involving female victims, and gun-related assault." The authors suggest that the correlation between the presence of guns in the home and suicide and homicide of females is best explained as causal, i.e. the presence of guns is the cause of the mortality and not the reverse. The study found no correlation for similar crimes against men, total rates of assault or for robbery, however, the authors note that the relationship between availability of guns and male homicide is complex, and the data may be affected by wars, organized crime, street crime and crime rates among various countries. They also note that, "the absence of significant correlations between gun ownership and total homicide, assault, or suicide rates...[leaves] open the question of possible substitution effects." (In other words, other means could have been substituted for firearms used in the commission of homicide or suicide.)

The Harvard Injury Control Research Center, part of the Harvard School of Public Health, found that "The rate of gun homicide, and the total homicide rate was significantly correlated with levels of gun ownership", and that this also held across high-income nations and across states. The study also said that "Cross-sectional studies like ours do not provide information about causality." [37][38][39][40][41]

However, a number of scholars have also reported that the rate of gun availability is either neutral or associated with less gun violence. These include Don Kates, Gary Mauser, John Lott, David Mustard, Joyce Malcolm and Gary Kleck. For example, a 2002 review of international gun control policies and gun ownership rates as these relate to crime rates by Kates and Mauser,[42] published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (a student run journal devoted to conservative and libertarian legal scholarship[43]) argues that, "International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately, such discussions are all too often been [sic] afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative." Kates and Mauser point out in Europe, there is no correlation whatsoever between gun ownership rates and homicide rates (see table "European Gun Ownership and Murder Rates"). Joyce Malcolm reviewed the subject of crime rates and homicides in England[44] and found that, "data on firearms ownership by constabulary area," show, "a negative correlation...[that is], where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest."

Economist John Lott, in his book More Guns, Less Crime, provides data showing that laws allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a gun legally in public may cause reductions in crime because potential criminals do not know who may be carrying a firearm. The data for Lott's analysis came from the FBI's crime statistics for all 3,054 US counties.[45] Kleck analysed the impact of 18 major types of gun control laws on every major type of violent crime or violence (including suicide), and found that gun laws generally had no significant effect on violent crime rates or suicide rates.[46] Studies by Arthur Kellermann and Matthew Miller found that keeping a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of suicide.[47][48] Other studies, however, found no association between gun ownership and suicide.[49]

University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt argues in his paper, Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not,[50] that available data indicate that neither stricter gun control laws nor more liberal concealed carry laws have had any significant effect on the decline in crime in the 1990s. A comprehensive review of published studies of gun control, released in November 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was unable to determine any statistically significant effect resulting from such laws, although the authors suggest that further study may provide more conclusive information.

3D printingEdit

In 2012 the company Defense Distributed released a 3D printed gun called the Liberator. Questions were raised regarding the effects that 3D printing and widespread consumer-level CNC machining[51][52] may have on gun control effectiveness.[53][54][55][56]

In May 2013, the United States Department of Homeland Security and representatives from the Joint Regional Information Exchange System released a memo saying that

Significant advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing capabilities, availability of free digital 3D printer files for firearms components, and difficulty regulating file sharing may present public safety risks from unqualified gun seekers who obtain or manufacture 3D printed guns," and "Proposed legislation to ban 3D printing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent their production. Even if the practice is prohibited by new legislation, online distribution of these digital files will be as difficult to control as any other illegally traded music, movie or software files.[57]

European officials have noted that producing a 3D printed gun would be illegal under their gun control laws[58] and that criminals have access to other sources of weapons, but noted that as the printing technology improved the risks of the illegal manufacture would increase.[59][60]

Some US legislators have proposed regulations on 3D printers to prevent them being used for printing guns.[61][62] 3D printing advocates have suggested that such regulations would be futile, could cripple the 3D printing industry, and could infringe on free speech rights.[63][64][65][66][67][68][69]

See alsoEdit


  1. Duncan Chappell. "PREVENTION OF VIOLENT CRIME: THE WORK OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE ON VIOLENCE". Archived from the original on 2007-06-15. 
  2. "The Gun Buy-Back Scheme". Commonwealth of Australia. 1997. ISBN 0-644-39080-8. ISSN 1036-7632. Archived from the original on 2009-07-04. 
  3. Ozanne-Smith, J; , K Ashby, S Newstead, V Z Stathakis and A Clapperton. "Firearm related deaths: the impact of regulatory reform". 
  4. Chapman, S; , Alpers, P., Agho, K. and Jones, M. "Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms: faster falls in firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and a decade without mass shootings". 
  5. Mouzos, Jenny; & Reuter, P (2002). "Australia: a massive buyback of low-risk guns". In Ludwig J & Cook PJ. The Brookings Institution, Washington. 
  6. Baker, Jeanine; & McPhedran, Samara (2006-10-18). "Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference?". p. 455. Digital object identifier:10.1093/bjc/azl084. 
  7. Lee, Wang-Sheng; & Suardi, Sandy (2008-8). "The Australian Firearms Buyback and Its Effect on Gun Deaths". Melbourne Institute. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7340-3285-0. [dead link]
  8. Hemenway, David (2009). "How to find nothing". pp. 260–268. Digital object identifier:10.1057/jphp.2009.26. 
  9. Shirer, William (1959). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon and Schuster. 
  10. Bernard E. Harcourt, April 5, 2004: Hitler and Gun Registration Retrieved 2012-12-16
  11. 11.0 11.1 Rummel,RJ, Death by Government (1994) Transaction Publishers, New Jersey, pp. 111-122, ISBN 1-56000-145-3.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Stephen Halbrook, 17 Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2000: Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews Retrieved 2012-12-16
  13. Courts Law and Justice. pp. 119.,+Law,+and+Justice&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5mjAUfzTKqGEiALA_IHoCA&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=nazi&f=false. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  14. A Complete History of the Holocaust. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  15. 48 Hours of Kristallnacht. 
  16. Polsby, Daniel. "Of Holocausts and Gun Control". 
  17. Guns in American Society, An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 Harcourt, Bernard E (2004) "On the NRA, Adolph Hitler, Gun Registration, and the Nazi Gun Laws: Exploring the Culture Wars (A Call to Historians)", p. 22.
  19. "NAZIS ASK REPRISAL IN ATTACK ON ENVOY; Press Links Shooting in Paris to 'World Conspiracy' and Warns Jews of Retaliation MASS EXPULSIONS FEARED Berlin Police Head Announces 'Disarming' of Jews--Victim of Shots in Critical State New Fear Aroused Round-up in Vienna Diplomat's Condition Critical". November 9, 1938. 
  20. Kristallnacht 1938 - Alan E Steinweis - Google Books
  22. Разрешительная система в России: вехи становления
  23. Александр Малахов. "Право на хранение оружия дают членские партийные билеты" // "Коммерсантъ", № 30 (633) от 1 августа 2005
  24. Story,Joseph, "A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States". 1986, Regnery Gateway, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 319-320, ISBN 0-89526-796-9.
  25. Hardy, David T. "The origins and Development of the Second Amendment". 1986, Blacksmith Corp., Chino Valley, Arizona, pp. 1-78, ISBN 0-941540-13-8.
  26. Halbrook, Stephen P. "That Every Man be Armed-The Evolution of a Constitutional Right". 1987, The University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, pp. 1-88, ISBN 0-8263-0868-6.
  27. Kates, "Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment," 82 Mich. L. Rev. 204, 256 1983
  28. Carrying Concealed Weapons, 15 Va L. Reg. 391, 391-92, 1909 George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal (GMU CR LJ), Vol. 2, No. 1, "Gun Control and Racism," Stefan Tahmassebi, 1991, p. 75
  29. Tahmassebi, Stefan B. "GUN CONTROL AND RACISM", George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, Vol. 2 (1991): 67,
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Wellford, Charles F.; Pepper, John V.; Petrie, Carol V. (2004). Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. The National Academies Press. ISBN 9780309091244. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 Branas, Charles; Therese Richmond, Dennis P. Culhane, Thomas R. Ten Have and Douglas J. Wiebe (November 2009). "Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault". pp. 2034–2040. Digital object identifier:10.2105/AJPH.2008.143099. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  33. Firearm-related deaths in the United States and 35 other high- and upper-middle income countries, EG Krug, KE Powell and LL Dahlberg, 1997
  34. Gun Ownership, Suicide and Homicide: An International Perspective, Martin Killias.
  35. Martin Killias (1993). "Gun Ownership, Suicide and Homicide: An International Perspective" (PDF). Archived from the original on January 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-16. "The present study, based on a sample of eighteen countries, confirms the results of previous work based on the 14 countries surveyed during the first International Crime Survey. Substantial correlations were found between gun ownership and gun-related as well as total suicide and homicide rates. Widespread gun ownership has not been found to reduce the likelihood of fatal events committed with other means. Thus, people do not turn to knives and other potentially lethal instruments less often when more guns are available, but more guns usually means more victims of suicide and homicide." 
  36. Killias, van Kesteren, and Rindlisbacher, "Guns, violent crime, and suicide in 21 countries", Canadian Journal of Criminology, October 2001.
  37. "Homicide"
  38. Hepburn, Lisa; Hemenway, David. Firearm availability and homicide: A review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal. 2004; 9:417-40
  39. Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew. Firearm availability and homicide rates across 26 high income countries. Journal of Trauma. 2000; 49:985-88
  40. Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Household firearm ownership levels and homicide rates across U.S. regions and states, 1988-1997. American Journal of Public Health. 2002: 92:1988-1993
  41. Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. State-level homicide victimization rates in the U.S. in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001-2003. Social Science and Medicine. 2007; 64:656-64
  42. Kates, Don; Gary Mauser (2002). "Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence.". pp. 649–694. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  43. "Harvard Law School: Journals and Publications". Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  45. Lott, John R.Jr., "More Guns, Less Crime-- Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws" (1998), The University of Chicago Press, Chicago Illinois, pp. 50-122, ISBN 0-226-49363-6.
  46. Kleck and Patterson, Journal of Quantitative criminology September 1993.
  47. Kellermann, AL, Rivara FP, et al. "Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership." NEJM 327:7 (1992):467-472.
  48. Miller, Matthew and Hemenway, David (September 4, 2008) "Guns and Suicide in the United States". The New England Journal of Medicine, 359-989-991, Retrieved July 25, 2012
  49. Miller, Marv. 1978. "Geriatric suicide." The Gerontologist 18:488-495; Bukstein, O. G., David A. Brent, Joshua A. Perper, Grace Moritz, Marianne Baugher, Joy Schweers, Claudia Roth, and L. Balach. 1993. "Risk factors for completed suicide among adolescents with a lifetime history of substance abuse: a case-control study." Acta Psychiatrica Scandanavia 88:403-408; Beautrais, Annette L., Peter R. Joyce, and Roger T. Mulder. 1996. "Access to firearms and the risk of suicide." Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 30:741-748; Conwell, Yeates, Kenneth Connor, and Christopher Cox. 2002. "Access to firearms and risk for suicide in middle-aged and older adults." American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 10:407-416 [among females]
  50. Levitt, Steven D (2004). "Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not". 
  53. "Weapons made with 3-D printers could test gun-control efforts". February 19, 2013. 
  55. Rayner, Alex (6 May 2013). "3D-printable guns are just the start, says Cody Wilson". 
  64. Ball, James (10 May 2013). "US government attempts to stifle 3D-printer gun designs will ultimately fail". 

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