Debunking the Australia Gun “Buyback” Narrative, Again

A Washington Post article published Tuesday, written by a former gun-control advocate, is being widely disseminated by gun rights supporters. It also was discussed by radio host Mark Levin. Leah Libresco’s admission that her research changed her mind on the effectiveness of gun laws preventing violence is indeed a relevant read in the wake of the Las Vegas Massacre. But in her piece Libresco, who makes it quite clear she still doesn’t like guns, also resurrects a dangerous gun control fallacy: The Australian gun “buyback” program. No such program ever happened. Here is what did happen.

In the wake of a 1996 mass shooting, Australia banned and confiscated guns. The “buyback” was really a mandatory confiscation of firearms, for which citizens were given compensation by the government. But they had no choice in turning over their guns. This omission by Libresco is as glaring as it is important. President Barack Obama and other Democrats have pointed to Australia’s “buyback” program as something that could work to reduce gun violence in America. Obama and others almost never mention that the program was compulsory. And as Varad Mehta reported at “The Federalist,” some Democratic lawmakers have openly advocated for a mandatory buyback in this country:

Not all gun control proponents prevaricate. Some are forthright about their intentions. After Sandy Hook, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) stated she was considering legislation to institute a mandatory national buyback program. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also expressed an interest in confiscation, at least for assault weapons. “Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option — keep your gun but permit it.” Ultimately, New York did not institute confiscation, but did require registration of existing assault weapons and banned all sales of new and existing ones within the state.

Libresco does explain in the Post piece why the results of the Australian program aren’t transferable to the United States. Nonetheless, gun rights advocates advancing her piece need to add a disclaimer pointing out the fallacy she is advancing about Australia. Residents did not voluntarily sell their guns to the government; something her piece does not explicitly state yet clearly implies. Their firearms were confiscated and then the government chose to compensate them for an action against their will.

Clearly the 2nd Amendment would preclude such action in America; unless gun control advocates are able to present it as something it isn’t.