The only feasible way to prevent the next mass shooting in America is to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens, an opinion writer for the Boston Globe recently declared.
What did he say?
The writer, David Scharfenberg, proceeded from the premise that not only are “thoughts and prayers” not enough after a mass shooting, neither are an assault weapons ban or increased regulations on firearms. Instead, according to Scharfenberg, the only way to solve America’s problem of seemingly unending gun violence is through mandatory gun confiscation.
"The logic of gun control lies, at bottom, in substantially reducing the number of deadly weapons on the street — and confiscation is far and away the most effective approach,” Scharfenberg wrote.
He used — as most anti-Second Amendment advocates do — Australia’s gun confiscation from the 1990s as a model America should follow. Former President Barack Obama said the same in 2015, Hillary Clinton said it on the campaign trail last election and countless other Democrats have cited it, too.
What did the confiscation law do?
After a mass shooting in Tasmania in 1996, which saw 35 people slaughtered, Australia took action.
It took just 12 days for conservative Prime Minister John Howard to announce a full slate of gun restrictions in a nation with a long tradition of frontier firearms. There was a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons and shotguns, an extensive registration system, and a 28-day waiting period between getting a permit and buying a gun.
But the centerpiece was the mandatory buyback, with a temporary tax financing the multimillion dollar purchase of hundreds of thousands of weapons deemed illegal under the new law.
The effort removed one-fifth of guns in circulation in Australia, and as Scharfenberg claimed, has dramatically reduced gun violence since. "Since passage of the law, the country hasn’t seen a single mass shooting — defined as a killing of five or more people, not including the gunman,” he wrote.
But would that work in America?
For a number of reasons, Scharfenberg said a mandatory confiscation would be "simply unimaginable" in America — but that doesn't mean lawmakers shouldn't try, he opined.
According to Scharfenberg, the reasons the ban worked in Australia but likely wouldn't in America include: Australia is more urban than America, Australia doesn't have a big "gun culture" like America, Australia doesn't have a "powerful or well-financed" gun lobby and Australia doesn't have a constitutionally protected right to bear arms.
After characterizing gun ownership as "fanaticism," and saying that confiscating one-fifth of all guns in America is nearly impossible, Scharfenberg suggested that laws that allow family members of disturbed individuals to seek court orders barring them from owning or possessing guns is a good step forward.
But even that is still not enough.
"Still, even if we find a way to keep guns out of the hands of people who have engaged in disturbing or violent behavior — no small task, given all the stories of the troubled shooters who slipped through the cracks — it will only get us so far," Scharfenberg wrote.
"Ultimately, if gun-control advocates really want to stanch the blood, there’s no way around it: They’ll have to persuade more people of the need to confiscate millions of those firearms, as radical as that idea may now seem," he declared.