Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton and Gun Buybacks

There's little chance of Australia's model coming to the states.


Credit: A. Buser / photo on flickr

Barack Obama promised he wouldn't take away anyone's guns, but gun rights alarmists have spent seven years incessantly predicting he will. From his experience, Hillary Clinton seems to have decided to skip the part of the campaign that involves placating the National Rifle Association. 

Recently, at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, she was asked about adopting a federal gun control program like the one enacted in Australia in 1996, which banned automatic and semiautomatic rifles and shotguns and mandated the buyback of those already present. Some 650,000 guns were taken from citizens and destroyed. 

Clinton replied, "I do not know enough details to tell you how we would do it or how it would work, but certainly the Australian example is worth looking at." The reason, she said, is that "by offering to buy back those guns, they were able to curtail the supply and to set a different standard for gun purchases in the future." 

At this, the NRA activated the air raid sirens. Obama and Clinton, it declared, have "made clear what they're really after—national gun confiscation." 

It was an unforced error that she will never hear the last of. From how Clinton phrased her answer, though, it's pretty clear that she was thinking of a voluntary buyback. She compared it to Obama's Cash for Clunkers program and cited voluntary programs done in various cities. 

Given the fate of such previous gun control measures as the "assault weapons" ban (which was allowed to expire) and universal background checks (which were rejected), a savvy politician could not possibly imagine a mandatory program getting through Congress. 

From a political perspective, there is nothing to gain from pretending otherwise. Her spokeswoman, asked whether Clinton was proposing mass confiscation, replied, "Of course not." 

But many gun control advocates think we ought to emulate Australia. They claim the 1996 law reduced homicides, reduced suicides and stamped out mass shootings, and they insist that if we want to end the carnage here, we should be taking similar steps. 

The effectiveness of what the Aussies did, though, is not so clear. It's true that in the years after the law took effect, gun homicides and suicides declined. But they were declining before it took effect. Gun murders also subsided in this country after 1996. They fell in New Zealand, which declined to embrace the Australian approach. 

Does the 1996 law deserve credit for saving lives? Don Weatherburn, director of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, told PolitiFact that the evidence is "far from conclusive." Harvard's David Hemenway, a darling of gun control supporters, admitted, "We really don't know." 

Some research does suggest the effort was successful. Even if you accept that view, it's a stretch to think it has much relevance this side of the Pacific. Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University, whose study indicated that the program worked, admitted the experience may not be transferable. 

"The ability of an island nation to restrict illegal gun imports," they wrote, "coupled with the absence of any domestic gun manufacturers producing for the retail market, meant that legal restrictions on gun ownership were more likely to 'bite' in Australia than would be the case in countries with porous land borders." Like, um, ours. 

Not to mention that a mandatory turn-in would meet fierce, widespread resistance in this country. Maybe you've heard of the NRA? Finding and seizing guns from uncooperative owners would be a logistical nightmare, a political disaster and quite possibly a bloodbath. 

Even in Australia, experts estimate that only one-fifth of the guns in private hands were removed. Here, the share would be smaller. 

What about a voluntary program? For evidence on that option, you don't need to look at Australia. Many American cities, including Chicago, have offered payments to anyone turning in a firearm. But the people who respond are generally people who present little danger, if any. 

A 2004 study by the National Academy of Sciences offered no encouragement. "The theory underlying gun buyback programs is badly flawed," it found, "and the empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs." 

The Australian law has zero chance of being adopted here and probably wouldn't work if it were, while a voluntary version would be a waste of time. But if Clinton wants to help the NRA, she's found the perfect formula.

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. In this new era of “pen and phone” regulation, anyone who even thinks a gun buyback would be a reasonable proposition is unfit to be President. We are not safe anymore noting how this type of regulation would not get through congress. It wouldn’t have to, the FBI, ATF, and IRS would be ordered to make universal background checks the standard, gun purchases be tracked in a database, and the type and amount of guns owned a line item on your tax form.

    You really trust that lying heartless bitch to do anything else now? At this point in time what difference does it make that every word she utters is a God damned lie?

    It makes ALL the difference.

    1. Our government crooks, now call gun control; gun safety. What a load of shit! They call police ramming people off the road; traffic safety.

  2. It seems clear that the Australian program, the National Firearms Act, would not pass constitutional muster in the US. That said, it seems equally clear that the preponderance of evidence suggests that NFA worked. Consider the conclusion of a comprehensive 2011 reveiw of the evidence: For Australia, the NFA seems to have been incredibly successful in terms of lives saved.”
    More importantly, the Australian example shows that a far more draconian program of restrictions than seem likely in the US without a constitutional amendment was enacted with widespread compliance and virtually no public backlash. In my opinion, the best hope for those who advocate what I would call ‘sensible’ restrictions on guns is summarized by the second part of her statement: that is to “set a different standard for gun purchases in the future.” This can be done by pursuing restrictions on guns that can pass constitutional muster, an issue I discuss here:


    1. But consider this claim from another comprehensive review of the evidence:

      “The NFA: who knows what it did? Probably not much, because it’s stupid.”

      There you have it: case closed. That’s science.

      1. The problem is that most American gun owners aren’t super humble folks that will give you their guns.

        Put me in the “your never getting” my guns camp.

        I don’t care how noble and workable these efforts would be.

        Given the chance there is every indication Hilllary would go full tyrant on us and take action to punish her republican enemies.

        Again, her stance on guns disqualifies her from being an American President. If she loves Australian gun laws maybe she should go there and run for office. She’s proven that she’s one hell of a carpetbagger.

    2. widespread compliance

      That’s just not true. Don’t have time to look it up at the moment, but J.D. Tucille covered that here at Reason a while ago. Several hundred thousand “assault weapons” remain unaccounted for.

    3. Also, see this study from the University of Melbourne (PDF warning):

      Despite the fact that several researchers using the same
      data have examined the impact of the NFA on firearm deaths, a consensus does not
      appear to have been reached. In this paper, we re-analyze the same data on firearm
      deaths used in previous research, using tests for unknown structural breaks as a means
      to identifying impacts of the NFA. The results of these tests suggest that the NFA did
      not have any large effects on reducing firearm homicide or suicide rates.

    4. Public policy initiatives tend to reflect public will. Australia, based on your observation of compliance and backlash, had some degree of public will regarding the buyback.

      Public attitudes in the US are going in the opposite direction. Every high-profile shooting is seized upon by confiscators as a rallying cry, but seems to have the opposite effect among the populace.

      Gun restrictions are political poison in the US.

      Then there’s the practical. Australia’s program picked up several hundred thousand guns. There are an estimated 350 MILLION guns in the US, and millions more are manufactured and purchased every year. Good luck making a dent in that number.

      I expect that a buy-back program would very likely collect a whole bunch of junk guns, guns unlikely to ever be used in crime, and little else. In other words, it would accomplish nothing other than wasting taxpayer money.

    5. “…was enacted with widespread compliance…”

      I don’t have gun ownership data for Australia at my fingertips, but 650,000 guns from a population of some 20 million? I’d be willing to bet a large sum of money that there are a bunch of “illegal” guns in the land down under.

      1. Australia admits they only actually turned in 1/3 of the guns in Australia.

        Australian man makes machine guns at home,sells them to gangs.
        (including suppressors,aka “silencers”.)

        Submachine-guns found in weapons factory

    6. Stephen Mezias thanks for the link to your blog. You have an interesting take on the 2nd Amendment, to say the least. But don’t you think the thrust of your argument (linking “militias” to “local police” and concluding that the cops should have a say in deciding who gets to own guns) would easily lead to a police state? You know, slippery slopes and all that. And isn’t the right to bear arms in opposition to state tyranny pretty much the point of the 2nd Amendment?

  3. You’ll have to pry it from my Messican tranny hands.

  4. A voluntary gun buy back could work… at the price point such that practically no one would rather keep their gun than sell it. For Americans, that’s a pretty high price I suspect.

    Oh, fuck it. It feels good, and we have to try something.

    Ok, $100K per gun, any type, no questions asked. I’ve got a few extra to spare.

    By the way, exactly how much money does it take to buy a gun off a crazy person? Do crazy people like money too?

    1. you mean $100,000 dollars each? I would sell just enough to retire…

      1. I think that was exactly the proposal

    2. Ok, $100K per gun, any type, no questions asked. I’ve got a few extra to spare.

      Put me down as “In favor of” on that one. At that price I could buy a LOT of precision machine shop equipment and materials for making my own…er…um…..uh….decorative ashtrays…yeah, that’s the ticket!

      1. You wouldn’t have to work that hard. Just buy cheap guns legally from stores and turn around and resell them to the gov’t for a hefty mark-up, until of course the market price of guns rises to the point where arbitrage no longer turns a profit…

        At that point, gun manufacturers would be receiving a hefty subsidy from the gov’t and people buying guns intending to keep them (and not flip them to the gov’t) would be priced out of the market. At that point, you buy the equipment to manufacture guns illegally OR import them illegally and start selling them to the gov’t, again at $100,000 each (assuming the buyback is “no questons asked”).

        Of course, that would paint a target on your back as the Mexican cartels muscle in on this new awesomely profitable source of income and begin to kill off less ruthless and less organized competition. Then, it will become the drug cartels selling directly to the US gov’t, the reverse direction of the ATF’s botched “Fast and Furious.”

        Eventually the gov’t would have to stop the buybacks, collapsing the bubble and putting numerous gun shops and manufacturers out of business (those that were overleveraged to take advantage of the gov’t’s largesse) while leaving the remainder in excellent financial position. Gun prices would collapse back to where individuals could actually afford to purchase them for their own use.

        Sure would be fun to watch this rollercoaster economics crash course!

    3. LOL. you’re crazy if you think FEDGOV is going to pay your asking price,they will give you the “assessed value” for the particular gun,and once they’re illegal,their value is near worthless.

      Their buybacks are not going to be voluntary. They may -say- that,but it WILL change once it’s in the hands of Congress.

  5. … it’s pretty clear that she was thinking of a voluntary buyback.

    Setting aside the fact that, unless Clinton is using her own resources to purchase the guns, the program would not be voluntary, it’s not a stretch to imagine coercive tactics being brought against those who might resist making her policy a success.

  6. Finding and seizing guns from uncooperative owners would be a logistical nightmare…

    Modest, common sense gun control legislation starts with a Federal registration database.

    1. how is registration working in Connecticut and New York?

      1. 5% compliance in NY, 11% in CT.

        As far as civil disobedience goes, these are lulus.

        1. Success !!1!!

          – Prog/derp

    2. I like it. $100K per gun. 350 million guns. $35 Trillion.

      Buy stock in printing presses.

      1. Many firearms are worth much more that $1000…

        If you are a competitive shooter that can be many thousands of dollars.


        If your version was passed I would be buying up every cheap ass giun I could find to sell…

  7. What is that a stock photo of?

    1. Beretta Neos with what I think is a carbine conversion kit and some other BS.

      1. Agree, looks like a Neos with some goofy parts.

        Browning sells Buckmark rifles that look pretty similar… though I hear the performance is pretty subpar.

      2. it looks like something you’d need a tax stamp from F-Troop to be legal in the US. NFA weaponry.
        it appears to be a short-barreled rifle,since it has a stock and a barrel less than 16 inches long. just putting a stock on a handgun will get you sent to prison,if you don’t have the tax stamp for that particular weapon.

  8. Barack Obama promised he wouldn’t take away anyone’s guns

    Why would anyone believe this fucking liar?

    1. do you mean to say that if you like your gun you can keep your gun?

      1. I lol’ed harder then i should have.

    2. And he has not. His time is almost up, yet he has failed to take everyone’s guns or even anyone’s guns for that matter.

      Arguments like this make no sense to me. I have plenty of issues with the way that President Obama has served his terms, but he really has not made any major moves with regards to guns. When you guys go off on that stuff, you sound ignorant.

      1. “he has failed to take everyone’s guns or even anyone’s guns for that matter.”

        Lack of ability does not mean lack of intent. The man constantly says that “we need to get assault weapons off the streets” and that “nobody needs to own an assault weapon”. If Republicans said “we need to get this birth control off the streets” and “nobody needs to use birth control”, nobody would be called crazy for supposing that Republicans have a problem with the use of birth control.

        He also supports the assault weapons ban, which is just a form of passive confiscation. Don’t believe me? Try it with anything else. What if they said that no new voter registrations were allowed, but people who had already registered could continue voting? You would say that that is an unacceptable infringement on voting rights.

        With all the words and actions that Obama has taken against gun rights, I don’t see why it’s considered the height of tinfoil hat lunacy to think that he would approve of mass confiscation if it were politically possible.

      2. Naw, it just means you’re ignorant of the ability of gun rights advocates to stop gun confiscation via political deterrence.

        I don’t use the word ignorant in a derogatory manner. I mean the literal definition of ignorant–you are unaware of the continual political pressure being put upon gun control proponents by the state and national gun rights organizations. They, like just about every other special interest group, hire lobbyists and spend big bucks supporting and opposing political candidates.

        Obama and the other gun control politicians know this and didn’t make any moves because they knew they would be defeated.

  9. Comparing a gun buy back in Australia to the US is comparing a peanut to a watermelon. Australia has no Second Amendment protection for gun rights. Australia has a population of around 25 million of which around 3% (650,000) owned firearms. The US has over 100 million gun owners out of a population approaching 330 million. Hillary is just pandering to the gun grabber voters. Both Obama and Hillary can bluster about executive orders and gun confiscation but neither has the authority or ability to enforce it.
    CT and NY passed gun registration laws in 2013, CT compliance is around 15% and NY compliance is around 5%.

    1. If ‘murricans exercising rights are outnumbered 2 to 1, that would still add up to a passel of votes worth having. Still, the whole idea of inalienable rights not forfeitable by some majority has foundation in the Solomon Asch experiment titled “Opinions and Social Pressure” demonstrated clearly and reproducibly that 3 in 4 educated Americans will lie about the simplest fact if cowed by 3 to 12 persons backing some unanimous claim. The numbers are badly skewed when a dissenter is present. So if the hostility of coercive utopians seems out of proportion to the dissent, it is because ANY dissent cuts the effectiveness of the social pressure by a third. So by speaking out, Reason is reducing by a third or better the effectiveness of the jackbooted-minions-only gun lobby. Because it is a safe bet that anything conservatives are for is based on some irrational superstition, this dissenting voice could easily be more effective than the others even if not as loud.

      1. That is an interesting point in light of the increase in opposition to gun bans in America since the birth of the internet. Quite possibly there may have been the same amount of opposition before that but with the media owning the podium for debate the NRA often seemed to be the only opposing voice. Now that anybody can go on-line and make their voice heard it seems that gun bans have less support than they did before.

    2. “Australia has no Second Amendment protection for gun rights.” Is that the case? Because it would seem to be a fairly enormous difference between our two nations, at least for those who still believe in the Constitution and that silly ole Bill of Rights.

      1. you may not have noticed,but the “rule of law” in the US has slipped away,eroded by the governments of the last 40-50 years. We’re at the point now where FEDGOV is openly refusing to enforce the laws enacted by Congress. Or doing selective enforcement,which is unconstitutional.

        At present,the “rule of law” is pretty much GONE.
        But many people refuse to recognize that.

  10. Hillary’s stance itself, not its feasibility, should disqualify her for president. Chapman’s right, it’ll never pass but the way things are done now congress can be circumvented.

    An EO could be issued and rule making could be applied that would effectively outlaw many types of very popular firearms, high capacity magazines, and establish a de facto gun registry (Chapman the weasel knows this to be the case). Of course, if congress didn’t like it they could pass a law and then override a presidential veto. Good luck with that.

    1. The “back door” to universal registration might go like this:

      Congress enacts legislation mandating background checks for all transfers, including private ones. It adds language saying “BATF is authorized to implement regulations necessary to accomplish this.” BATF says “the only way to ensure compliance is to know where all the guns are.” BATF rounds up every 4473 from every FFL in the nation, claiming the new law authorizes and requires what current law prohibits. It builds its database, then sends letters out to every purchaser asking to verify that he still owns that firearm. People take BATF to court. Years later, People win, but the database exists, and like all things electronic, always will.

      Meanwhile, Congress can claim it never voted for universal registration.

      1. The BATF couldn’t actually do that unless Congress need to deliberately repealed/rescind Federal Law 18 U.S.C. 926, which would negate that last claim in your scenario.

        1. When a regulatory agency faces two laws that say different things, the agency always takes the “more power for ourselves” course of action. The law you cite is meaningless if not even the constitution is followed

      2. I wonder what the compliance rate would be in that case. How many people “never got a letter” or “sold it at a gun show” – especially if the BATFE is not planning to come and check.

      3. EVERY FFL in the US should have their 4473 records where they can be destroyed with a simple phone call,booby-trapped. Where they cannot be surprised in the middle of the night and have them seized by F-Troop.

        This would also be smart for any “Red Dawn” type of invasion,where the enemy troops seize the 4473s and use them to confiscate the citizens guns.

        Just having them in a safe is no good,because FEDGOV has people to crack such safes,they often even know the codes to open them.

    2. The lefty defense of Hillary’s confiscation gaffe reminds me of the claim that Whitewater wasn’t criminal because they didn’t make any money.

  11. How these libtards believe people are just going to voluntarily give up their firearms is beyond me! And gun confiscation…..that will work for the first house they make to but then watch the Branch Davidian situation unfold all over again.

    1. …but then watch the Branch Davidian situation unfold all over again….

      …on steroid.

    2. the solution to the Waco-style assault on individual homes,is for gun owners to NOT wait until the Feds are at their doors (that’s suicide),but to GO AFTER the politicians who enacted such unconstitutional laws,the judges who upheld them,and the gov’t officials and leaders who order they be enforced. All those folks have VIOLATED their Oaths of Office. The time to do that is right after the unconstitutional laws are signed into law.
      And leave NO place of security for those traitors,not even their homes. This doesn’t have to be done in militia,or even in small groups,it can be done individually,when they’re least expecting it. Hunt them down everywhere. Only then will the politicians not be so quick to propose unconstitutional gun laws,and judges not willing to uphold them.

      1. What I am saying here is that we need to make “shall not be infringed” actually MEAN something. Something the politicians and judges will take to heart.
        Or else,as they intend for us.

  12. Gun “alarmists” have been worried that their guns will be taken away, because the Australian solution has been mentioned quite a few times at this point. And not just by Hillary, but by the current President as well. Just look at what he said in his memorial speech after the DC Navy Yard shooting.

    The promise of not taking anyone’s guns slowly morphing into citing Australian law as a good model, really does lend a little more credibility to the claims of those “alarmists”, I would say.

  13. This is pretty typical of the ignorant twaddle that comes out of Chicago. People there just do not understand anything about guns.

    Obama “accidentally” changed the regulations to block the supply of 5.56 to the civilian market. Hillary “accidentally” suggested gun confiscation.

    Those poor politicians who mean so well and are misunderstood by the gun owners and the nefarious NRA.

    I agree that 95% of the support for gun restrictions is born from ignorance. But it starts with people like Steve Chapman.

    1. Chapman’s a mendacious scrunt and is one of the most pathetic apologists for the left here at Reason.

  14. The current National Socialist Workers Party in Brazil did the same thing, except that guns and ammo were already about as illegal as weed before the Fake Buyback put private guns in the hands of cop-sponsored underage holdup-boys. The other stupid Australian idea imported by Brazil and fascist Argentina is forcing everyone at gunpoint to vote for government-selected parties. Nixon-style subsidies for these looter parties is what leads to this kind of law being enacted. Australia is so anti-freedom that its Libertarian Party had to go underground. Pro-choice, hemp-legalizing, confiscation-curbing Libertarians Down Under vote for the Liberal Democratic Party, not for communists or prohibitionists dressed in other sheepskins. Liberal in Australia retains its true and original meaning: http://www.ldp.org.au/

  15. Not to mention that a mandatory turn-in would meet fierce, widespread resistance in this country.

    It was called “The battle of Concord” and it didn’t go well for the government stooges.

  16. This article is totally spot on:esp. the closing statement:”The Australian law has zero chance of being adopted here and probably wouldn’t work if it were, while a voluntary version would be a waste of time. But if Clinton wants to help the NRA, she’s found the perfect formula.”
    The best way to INCREASE gun sales is to hint at a mandatory gun buyback program. This article is also right when saying that doing so will also start a bloodbath. I’m pretty sure staunch second amendment advocates would be willing to die for this cause and I can’t say that I blame them.I believe in the second amendment also.I disagree with the idea that society can only move as fast as it’s slowest wheel; meaning we have to cater to the lowest common denominator.The simple fact is that you can legislate behavior. It is a common trait among liberals to run to Daddy Government every time something bad happens and say”Do something about this”. In this case, it seems there are no options short of taking away a citizens’ rights.Once you reach that point, it’s time to just stop.

  17. 1,000,000 gun owners in marxist controlled New York State refused to register their guns in 2014..

  18. Hillary’s Gun Proposals Assault the Constitution..

    reason. com/archives/ 2015/10/08/the-natural-right-to-self-defense

  19. She praised a country that confiscated guns, and so our conclusion is that she in no way favors confiscating guns?

  20. I don’t have much problem with a voluntary gun buy-back program. I would voluntarily allow the government to purchase back every gun I bought from them. It just happens that none of my guns were purchased from the US government – or from any government for that matter.

  21. Actually if you look at the real results of the Australian compulsory gun grab, rather than the establishment’s version of it, you find complete failure, see http://www.UniversalGunOwnership.net/australia

    The police pretending that they don’t know what a home invasion is so they can’t compare results. Armed robberies up by 69%, home invasions up by 21%. And:

    “deaths attributed to firearms in America dropped by nearly ten times the decline seen in Australia during the same period.”

  22. Gun buyback? Where is the money going to come from? Last time I checked, this country is flat broke. “Universal background checks?” Really?…How are you going to know who I just sold one of my unregistered guns to? A federal gun registry? Again where are all the hundreds of billions of dollars going to come from to build the hundreds of thousands of brand new prisons that will be needed to house the tens upon tens of millions of good Americans who will now become overnight felons for flat out refusing to register their some 400+ million firearms with Obama and Company? Yeah, good luck with all that, and take another nice big hit off your hoplophobic bongs.

    Molon Labe.

  23. Australia did NOT “offer” to buy back firearms,it was a MANDATORY buyback;”turn them in,or else”.
    And don’t try to tell us Hillary would make her “buyback” voluntary. No snowjobs here,please,we’re not that naive or gullible.

  24. How does the state “buy back” something it never owned in the first place?

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