Interesting study on gun control

I found this study on gun control very interesting.

Go and read it, right now.

While I don’t agree 100% with them (especially the part where they conclude that more guns (i.e. concealed carry) actually makes you safer), most of what they say I think is very insightful. Looking at changes to overall violent crime rates (as opposed to just gun related crime) after changes to gun laws just makes sense. I particularly like the line “…violence involving guns is not qualitatively worse than other violence: being bludgeoned to death is not less horrific than being shot to death.”

Given that there is a massive financial cost, and what seems to be a flow on social cost from similar thinking (knife laws, speed cameras etc) for potentially no or negligible increase in safety, I can’t help but feel that the emotional issue of gun control is sapping funding away from much more important areas – like safer road design/construction, driver training and behavioural (rather than speed) based enforcement.

Can’t say I’ve ever even been threatened with a gun (or any sort of face to face physical violence for that matter), but I sure as hell have been nearly killed many times on the roads. Do the numbers, where is the money better spent?

 

2013-08-06 EDIT: Here’s another interesting article I came across regarding the gun buyback in Australia in 1997. Note that this was written just after the buyback, but it seems that it has some pretty good points that stand up very well 15+ years later.

Australian weapons stupidity

A deadly weapon used by evil gangs, apparently

Australia, it seems, it heading down the shithole. Victoria is first in line, but the rest of the states are lining up behind her.

Take, for example, under Victoria’s new weapons legislation, a kubotan, is a prohibited weapon – that is, you need permission (page 16) from the chief of police to even own one. Don’t forget that the police have the power to randomly stop and search anyone for weapons, without probable cause. Even regular slingshots (page 11) or double bladed pen-knives (page 7). And don’t even think about those nasty, evil laser pointer cat toys – they’ve been banned for years. Oh, and if you’re under 18, no picnics for you, since even the sale of plastic knives is prohibited to those under 18. In Queensland, proposed changes to the weapons legislation would consider “discharging” a laser pointer in the same manner as discharging a firearm.

In concert, it seems, with these changes, customs have recently cracked down on knife imports. A number of sources indicate that customs are now confiscating any folding knife with a thumb stud, claiming they are “flick” knives.

While I am not a gun owner or advocate for the “right to bear arms”, this study by the Fraser institute seems pretty hard to argue with. I highly recommend reading it in full. The gist of it is that they compared per-capita violent crime rates in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. A reduction in gun violence means nothing if there is a corresponding increase in other types of violence – as the study says, “violence involving guns is not qualitatively worse than other violence: being bludgeoned to death is not less horrific than being shot to death.”. Their research actually showed that increasingly restrictive gun laws might actually increase the violent crime rate. I’m not sure that I quite agree with that last bit, but restricting access to weapons clearly does nothing to address the desire of some people to commit violent crime, nor the abilities of police to deter/prosecute said people. The fact that we’ve seen an increase in “glassing” shows that people will always find a way if they want to.

Knife laws in Queensland

Since I usually carry around a pocket knife (as a utility tool), I thought it would be worthwhile researching the relevant laws to know where I stand. Basically, it seems that you cannot carry a knife for the purposes of self defence, however if you have a reasonable excuse (such as utility tasks, work or other lawful activity requirements) then you are allowed to carry a knife – no size restrictions. However, you must not carry/use/act with the knife in such a way that a “reasonable person” would be scared/concerned.

Here’s the two relevant acts/regulations that I found:

Weapons Categories Regulation 1997

Page 8, Section 7A Category M weapons (c),
any knife so designed or constructed so as to be used as
a weapon
that while the knife is held in 1 hand, the blade
may be released by that hand;

The weapons category regulation, defines what is considered to be a category M weapon. My reading of this is that a knife is only a category M weapon if it is a knife that is designed as a weapon. If not for requirement for intended use as a weapon, then I believe a stanley knife would fall under this category. In the case of a linerlock type knife with opening studs, it is probably a bit grey, however if it was argued in court they’d need to show that it was designed or constructed as a weapon – something which I think would be pretty hard to do. (this is not for assisted openers or other such banned knives)

Weapons Act 1990
Page 74, Section 51 Possession of a knife in a public place or school

(1) A person must not physically possess a knife in a public place
or a school, unless the person has a reasonable excuse.
(2) It is a reasonable excuse for subsection (1) to physically
possess a knife—
(a) to perform a lawful activity, duty or employment; or
(b) to participate in a lawful entertainment, recreation or
sport; or
(c) for exhibiting the knife; or
(d) for use for a lawful purpose.

Example for subsection (2)(a)—
A person may carry a knife on his or her belt for performing work
in primary production.
Examples for subsection (2)(b)—
1 A scout may carry a knife on his or her belt as part of the scout
uniform.
2 A person may carry a knife as an accessory while playing in a pipe
band.
3 A fisher may carry a knife for use while fishing.
Examples for subsection (2)(d)—
1 A person may use a knife to prepare or cut food at a restaurant in a
public place or when having a picnic in a park.
2 A person may carry a pen knife or swiss army knife for use for its
normal utility purposes.
(3) However, it is not a reasonable excuse to physically possess a
knife in a public place or a school for self-defence purposes.
(4) In deciding what is a reasonable excuse for subsection (1),
regard may be had, among other things, to whether the way
the knife is held in possession, or when and where it is held in
possession, would cause a reasonable person concern that he
or she, or someone else in the vicinity, may be threatened or
harmed.

The weapons act, covers when it is allowable to carry a knife. Points 2a, b and d i believe are the relevant parts. So, a reasonable excuse would be if you use it for your work (stripping wires, cutting rope, opening packages etc) or, as per the example, for “normal utility purposes”. Note that this says nothing about knife types – as long as the  knife doesn’t fall into a weapons category (which, if used for lawful purposes as above, it doesn’t), then it says nothing about what is or isn’t covered. So, no limits on blade length, or limits on fixed blade knives or their size. Point 4 however, does mean that if you carry around a scary looking knife you could be in trouble.

Obtaining Queensland Police Reports

If you’re in a motor vehicle accident and wish to obtain a copy of the Queensland Police investigation documents (for example, if you are fucked over by the police) there seem to be two ways to go about getting a copy:

If you speak to police officers, it seems that the official method for access to your report is via CITEC. This costs (as at 2010-01-20) $70.70, and only actually provides you with a copy of the textual body of the report. Any attached documents, photos, scanned notes, drawings, or even statements which have been attached, rather than included are not part of the CITEC report, nor or they held by CITEC at all. The “Other Documents” mentioned in the CITEC Confirm application won’t get you these either – apparently it is for things like blood alcohol reading documents and other such things. As mentioned before, the police don’t actually transfer anything but the textual document to CITEC.

The other way, which I found out after I’d gotten a CITEC report and wondered where the hell all the information was, is to request a copy of all documents via the Queensland Government’s Right To Information (RTI) Act. This is a recent replacement of the Freedom of Information Act, and seems to work in a similar manner. A RTI request costs (as at 2010-01-20) $38 (unless the documents only contain personal information about you – probably not the case if it is a motor vehicle accident), and you can request copies of all relevant documents, not just textual information which is sent to CITEC.

I’m still waiting on my RTI request, but at this point I would say don’t even bother with a CITEC confirm report and go straight to a RTI request. It is much cheaper, and the CITEC confirm report is woefully inadequate in this sort of case.