Why an Isolated Event Cannot Dictate a Country’s Permanent Policy

Christchurch Attack
Image courtesy of “27 United Against Islamophobia” (CC BY 2.0) by Felton Davis.

Last Wednesday, the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, announced that the nation with a population shy of five million would immediately ban all “military-style semi-automatic weapons” following the horrific Christchurch massacre, in which 50 people were murdered.

Ardern went on to proudly state the rationale for the confiscatory policy, stating that the vast majority of firearm owners in the nation would support the ban due to it prioritizing “national interest” and “safety.”

There are approximately 1.5 million firearms owned by civilians in New Zealand. Between the years 2008 and 2017, there were 69 occurrences in which a murder was committed through the use of a firearm; that is equivalent to less than eight murders with a firearm per year. Civilians do not own firearms to commit horrific terrorist attacks or perform politically motivated catastrophes — civilians own firearms to protect their households.

The notion propagated by Ardern that confiscation would cause firearm owners to feel safer is asinine; it is purely an emotional response to the unprecedented and horrific event that occurred just a week prior. Taking firearms from civilians — people who purchased them in the first place to be safer — will not make the country, on an objective basis, a safer place.

Policy should not be founded on an emotional response. We’ve seen this countless times — the Las Vegas massacre, the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings — in which legislators, pundits, and other so-called “experts” lambaste you if you do not agree with their policies. “You don’t think semi-automatic weapons should be banned?” a Democrat immediately following the Parkland school shooting would rhetorically ask. If you replied in a logical and rational manner, the gun control advocate would ignore your remarks completely. “How dare you,” the zealot would snarkily reply, “you must not care about the safety of children.”

This same principle is occurring in New Zealand right now, all in front of our eyes. Try telling the prime minister, or her supporters, that you disagree with her proposal because it is illogical, irrational, or not in the best interest of the civilians of her nation. Count how many times ad hominem attacks are flung.

Again, policy should not be dictated by emotional inclination. Evidently, whenever a horrific event occurs — whether it be terrorist related or even an attack by a mentally ill person — people’s emotions will come out in full force. Factual figures don’t matter at the spur of the moment — people only want to ensure a similar event will never occur again. Turn on the mainstream media following the occurrence of a mass shooting and you’ll see the gun control zealots in full force, regurgitating talking points and insinuating that if you just so happen to disagree with their policies that you are essentially anti-life. You should be ashamed of yourself, they effectively say.

Talk of New Zealand’s policy isn’t just restricted within the borders of the island. Following Ardern’s announcement, Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democrat running for president in 2020, took to Twitter to praise the move, purporting that America needs to mimic the ban.

New Zealand isn’t the first country to confiscate firearms following an isolated incident. In 1996, the United Kingdom Parliament effectively banned all handguns from civilians following a school shooting in which 18 people died. Australia — a country gun control advocates love to point to thanks to its buyback program — banned the use of firearms for self-defense the same year, following a massacre in which a mentally insane person murdered 35 people.

Like New Zealand, the governments of Australia and the United Kingdom instituted policy purely based on emotional response. Even though the firearm murder rate in both countries was incredibly low and millions of firearms were owned by civilians with the sole purpose of protecting their households, the two nations’ governments indefinitely forbid the use of firearms for self-defense.

Regardless of the rationale for the policies, proponents of gun control consistently point out the “effectiveness” of the buyback program in Australia. They love to point out the fact that, following the implementation of the policy, there have been virtually no mass shootings in the entire country. Left-wing publications like Vox peddle incredible headlines like “Australia confiscated 650,000 guns. Murders and suicides plummeted.”

To truly verify this assertion and determine the effectiveness of the buyback program, we have to look at the firearm murder rate in Australia. From 1979 until 1996 (pre-buyback), 13 mass shootings occurred in Australia, according to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It’s important to note that in this study, the term “mass shooting” is defined as a shooting in which five or more people were murdered, excluding the perpetrator.

Following the buyback program, not a single mass shooting has occurred in Australia. To advocates of gun confiscation, this appears to be the perfect statistic. Clearly, the buyback program led to the incredible decrease in mass shootings, right?

That isn’t the case. By first looking at the mass shootings figures, the conclusion drawn by gun control advocates cannot be validly made. The sample size of mass shootings prior to the buyback program taking effect is far too small to truly draw a correlation between a decrease in mass shootings and the imposition of the buyback program. There were 13 mass shootings prior to the buyback program being imposed, and although 13 is still too many in the practical and emotional sense, the quantity is far too small in a scientific sense to draw a proper correlation between an independent and dependent variable.

Even more surprising, though, is that the homicide rate in Australia following the buyback program has actually decreased at a slower rate than the rate America’s homicide rate has decreased at around the same time period, during which America saw a significant increase in the number of firearms within its borders. In Australia, there were 23 percent fewer homicides in 2013 than there were in 1996, the year the buyback program was imposed. In America, there were 49 percent fewer firearm homicides in 2010 than there were in 1993. Within this same period, the United States saw a 56 percent increase in the number of firearms owned per person.

As JAMA found in Australia, the decrease in the murder rate of “nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths” occurred at a much “greater magnitude” than the decrease in firearm suicide and homicide deaths. The overall murder rate of Australia was already declining prior to the buyback program being instituted, and because of this, JAMA concludes that “it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to gun law reforms.”

Clearly, the homicide and murder rate of a country is not predicated on the circulation of firearms within the country. America saw an increase in firearms coupled with a decrease in the homicide rate. A homicide rate is largely determined by the people of a country themselves — an attribute that a buyback program cannot resolve.

So, this circles back to my main point. Policy — good policy at least – cannot be determined by an emotional response. Emotions tend to ignore logic if it is contradictory to our initial feelings. Of course, hearing about horrific events like the Christchurch shooting or the Las Vegas massacre make you want to take immediate action that is usually found in the form of heavy gun control. Yet upon utilizing the slightest bit of logic or taking just the slightest glance at publicly accessible statistics, this emotionalism beings to falter.

Politicians — especially incredibly manipulative and corrupt ones — find immense pleasure in utilizing emotional appeal to push their policies and maintain control. Don’t fall for it.

Daniel Schmidt is a 16-year-old paleoconservative political commentator and opinion writer. In his freshman year of high school, he founded The Young Pundit, a hard-hitting political commentary outlet that features young American nationalists critical of both the Left and the Right. To read more about Daniel, click here.