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Gun control is any law, policy, practice, or proposal designed to restrict or limit the possession, production, importation, shipment, sale, and/or use of firearms.
Gun control laws and policies vary greatly around the world. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have very strict limits on gun possession while others, such as the United States, have relatively modest limits. In some countries, the topic remains a source of intense debate with proponents generally arguing the dangers of widespread gun ownership. Opponents have argued that gun control does not reduce gun-related injuries, murder, or suicide, that gun control is an instrument of repression used by totalitarian governments, and that such regulation would violate individual liberties, including the right of self-protection and resistance against state-sponsored genocide.
Terminology and context
The concept of gun control is a subset of a much greater, yet equally global, topic, arms control.
In the context of this article, the concept of gun control is in reference to various means of restrictions on the use, transport, and possession of firearms. Specifically with regard to the class of weapons referred to as small arms. On a global scale this context is sometimes expanded to include light weapons; also known in the arms trade as SALW.
From the perspective of military small arms, this encompasses: revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light machine guns (e.g. M60), and sometimes hand grenades, shotguns, general-purpose machine guns, medium machine guns, and grenade launchers may be considered small arms or as support weapons, depending on the particular armed forces. Other groups utilizing these types of arms may also include government sanctioned non-military personnel such as law enforcement agencies.
From a civilian (meaning via private, individual ownership) perspective and varying via legislation from country to country this encompasses a subset of the above list. Usually limited to: revolvers, pistols, carbines, hunting rifles, sporting rifles, and shotguns.
Separate, yet integral, to the concept of gun control are the individuals and companies that comprise the global arms industry.
The arms industry is a global business which manufactures weapons and military technology and equipment. It consists of commercial industry involved in research, development, production, sale, and transport. Many industrialized countries have a domestic arms industry to supply their own military forces. Some countries also have a substantial legal or illegal domestic trade in weapons for use by its citizens. An illegal trade in small arms is prevalent in many countries and regions affected by political instability.
Gun control in Australia
In response to the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, gun law proposals developed from the report of the 1988 National Committee on Violence were adopted under a National Firearms Agreement. This was necessary because the Australian Constitution does not give the Commonwealth power to enact gun laws.
The National Firearms Agreement banned all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and created a tightly restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls. Because the Australian Constitution prevents the taking of property without just compensation the Federal Government introduced the Medicare Levy Amendment Act 1996 that provided the revenue for the National Firearms Program through a one-off 0.2% increase in the Medicare levy. Known as the gun buy-back scheme, it started across the country on the 1 October 1996 and concluded on the 30 September 1997 to purchase and destroy all semi-automatic rifles including .22 rimfires, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns. The buyback was predicted to cost A$500 million and had wide community support.
In 2002, the Monash University shooting led the federal government to urge state governments to again review handgun laws, and, as a result, amended legislation was adopted in all states and territories. Changes included a 10-round magazine capacity limit, a calibre limit of not more than .38 inches (9.65 mm), a barrel length limit of not less than 120 mm (4.72 inches) for semi-automatic pistols and 100 mm (3.94 inches) for revolvers, and even stricter probation and attendance requirements for sporting target shooters. In the state of Victoria A$21 million compensation was paid for confiscating 18,124 target pistols, and 15,184 replacement pistols were imported.
One government policy was to compensate shooters for giving up the sport. Approximately 25% of pistol shooters took this offer, and relinquished their licences and their right to own pistols for sport for five years.
There is contention over the effects of the gun control laws in Australia, with some researchers reporting significant drops in gun-related crime,  and others reporting no significant effect in gun related or overall crime rates. The primary source of the controversy is that, while the incidence of firearm deaths has decreased considerably since the 1996 restrictions went into effect, the rates had already been falling for the past two decades prior to the new gun laws. An article by David Hemenway argues that these studies were designed to find nothing. Hemenway writes that the authors of these studies carefully chose the period of study to reflect their desired negative results without giving rationale for the time period they choose to show a supposed decline in Australian gun violence. 
Nazi disarmament of German Jews
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The disarmament of Jews in Nazi Germany has been characterized as gun control by some conservative and libertarian thinkers. Among the hundreds of anti-Semitic laws, regulations, and acts of civil violence enacted by Nazi Germany, gun regulations were among those applied selectively to Germans considered Jewish under the Nuremberg Laws.[unreliable source?] Hitler's government required the Jewish population to disarm. Previously, the 1928 Weimar Republic Law on Firearms & Ammunition directed that possession of a firearm was "only to be granted to persons of undoubted reliability, and—in the case of a firearms carry permit—only if a demonstration of need is set forth." The Nazi Weapons Law of March 18, 1938 relaxed gun control requirements for the general population, but prohibited manufacturing of firearms and ammunition by Jews. Shortly thereafter, in the additional Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons of November 11, 1938, Jews were forbidden from possession of any weapons at all.[unreliable source?] During the initial reports of events that would later be called Kristallnacht the Police President of Berlin had announced that police activity in the preceeding few weeks had disarmed the entire Jewish population of Berlin by confiscating 2,569 of their hand weapons, 1,702 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. the Police President of Berlin had announced that police activity in the preceeding few weeks had disarmed the entire Jewish population of Berlin by confiscating 2,569 of their hand weapons, 1,702 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammunition.
Stephen Halbrook asserts that "Gun control laws are depicted as benign and historically progressive. However, German firearm laws and hysteria created against Jewish firearm owners played a major role in laying the groundwork for the eradication of German Jewry in the Holocaust." University of Chicago Law School Professor Bernard Harcourt writes that Halbrook is not a historian and that Halbrook's pro-gun ideological commitment is so flagrant that he cannot be "entirely trusted" on historical or statutory debates relating to gun control. He argues that gun control did not occur at all in Nazi Germany[not in citation given], writing:
The toughest question in all of this is how to characterize the Nazi treatment of the Jewish population for the purpose of evaluating Adolf Hitler's position on gun control. The truth is, the question itself is absurd. The Nazis sought to disarm and kill the Jewish population. Their treatment of Jewish persons was, in this sense, orthogonal to their gun-control views. Nevertheless, if forced to take a position, it seems that the Nazis were relatively more pro-gun than the predecessor Weimar Republic, as evidenced by the overall relaxation of the laws regulating the acquisition, transfer and carrying of firearms reflected in the 1938 Nazi gun laws."
Harcourt also said "To be sure, the Nazis were intent on killing Jewish persons and used the gun laws and regulations to further the genocide. Harcourt concludes:
[...]Hitler intended to liberalize gun control laws in Germany for "trustworthy" German citizens, while disarming "unreliable" persons, especially the Jewish population. In order to disarm Jewish persons, the Nazi government used both the "trustworthiness" requirements originally legislated in 1928, as well as more direct regulations denying Jews the right to manufacture or possess firearms. It is absurd to even try to characterize this as either pro- or anti-gun control. But if forced to, I would have to conclude, at least preliminarily from this straightforward exercise in statutory interpretation, that the Nazis favored less gun control for the "trustworthy" German citizen than the predecessor Weimar Republic, while disarming the Jewish population and engaging in genocide.
Gun control in Bolshevist Russia
- Main article: Gun politics in Russia
In Tzarist Russia personal gun ownership was legal, allowing Bolsheviks and other revolutionaries to import a great number of guns for the purpose of overthrowing the Tzar. For example, in 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War, the ship Sirius delivered to Russian revolutionaries 8,500 rifles paid by the government of Japan. In December 1918 during the Russian Civil War the Bolsheviks made it a crime for citizens other than members of their own party to own guns. Bolsheviks were allowed to own one rifle and one revolver.
Gun control in the United States
Many opponents of gun control consider self-defense to be a fundamental and unalienable human right and believe that firearms are an important tool in the exercise of this right. They consider the prohibition of an effective means of self-defense to be unethical. For instance, in Thomas Jefferson's "Commonplace Book," a quote from Cesare Beccaria reads,
"laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
Before the American Civil War ended, state slave codes prohibited slaves from owning guns. After slavery in the U.S. was abolished, states persisted in prohibiting black people from owning guns under laws renamed Black Codes.
The United States Congress overrode most portions of the Black Codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The legislative histories of both the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference of 1867, are replete with denunciations of those particular statutes that denied blacks equal access to firearms.
After the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1868, most states turned to "facially neutral" business or transaction taxes on handgun purchases. However, the intention of these laws was not neutral. An article in Virginia's official university law review called for a "prohibitive tax...on the privilege" of selling handguns as a way of disarming "the son of Ham," whose "cowardly practice of 'toting' guns has been one of the most fruitful sources of crime.... Let a Negro board a railroad train with a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights." Thus, many Southern states imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns in order to price destitute individuals out of the gun market.
High rates of gun mortality and injury are often cited as a primary impetus for gun control policies.[page needed] The question of whether gun control policies increase, decrease or have no effect on rates of gun violence turns out to be a difficult question. While a variety of disparate data sources on rates of firearm-related injuries and deaths, firearms markets, and the relationships between rates of gun ownership and violence exist, found that while some strong conclusions are warranted from current research, the state of our knowledge is generally poor.:3, 6 Despite the potential for improved research design, the National Research Council review concludes that the gaps in our knowledge on the efficacy of gun control policies are due primarily to inadequate data and not to weak research methods. The result of the scarcity of relevant data is that gun control is one of the most fraught topics in American politics and scholars remain deadlocked on a variety of issues.
The first cross-national overall comparison of deaths caused by guns was published in 1998, and found substantial variation. The possible factors leading to variation in gun violence among different countries was not assessed. A 2004 review by the National Research Council concluded that, "higher rates of household firearms ownership are associated with higher rates of gun suicide, that illegal diversions from legitimate commerce are important sources of crime guns and guns used in suicide, that firearms are used defensively many times per day, and that some types of targeted police interventions may effectively lower gun crime and violence.:2"
A number of studies have examined the correlation between rates of gun ownership and gun-related, as well as overall, homicide and suicide rates internationally. Martin Killias, in a 1993 study covering 21 countries, found that there were significant correlations between gun ownership and gun-related suicide and homicide rates. There was also a significant though lesser correlation between gun ownership and total homicide rates A later study published by Killias et al. in 2001, based on a larger sample of countries found, "very strong correlations between the presence of guns in the home and suicide committed with a gun, rates of gun-related homicide involving female victims, and gun-related assault." The authors suggest that the correlation between the presence of guns in the home and suicide and homicide of females is best explained as causal, i.e. the presence of guns is the cause of the mortality and not the reverse. The study found no correlation for similar crimes against men, total rates of assault or for robbery, however, the authors note that the relationship between availability of guns and male homicide is complex, and the data may be affected by wars, organized crime, street crime and crime rates among various countries. They also note that, "the absence of significant correlations between gun ownership and total homicide, assault, or suicide rates...[leaves] open the question of possible substitution effects." (In other words, other means could have been substituted for firearms used in the commission of homicide or suicide.)
However, a number of scholars have also reported that the rate of gun availability is either neutral or associated with less gun violence. These include Don Kates, Gary Mauser, John Lott, David Mustard, Joyce Malcolm and Gary Kleck. For example, a 2002 review of international gun control policies and gun ownership rates as these relate to crime rates by Kates and Mauser, published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (a student run journal devoted to conservative and libertarian legal scholarship) argues that, "International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately, such discussions are all too often been [sic] afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative." Kates and Mauser point out in Europe, there is no correlation whatsoever between gun ownership rates and homicide rates (see table "European Gun Ownership and Murder Rates"). Joyce Malcolm reviewed the subject of crime rates and homicides in England and found that, "data on firearms ownership by constabulary area," show, "a negative correlation...[that is], where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest."
Economist John Lott, in his book More Guns, Less Crime, provides data showing that laws allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a gun legally in public may cause reductions in crime because potential criminals do not know who may be carrying a firearm. The data for Lott's analysis came from the FBI's crime statistics for all 3,054 US counties. Kleck analysed the impact of 18 major types of gun control laws on every major type of violent crime or violence (including suicide), and found that gun laws generally had no significant effect on violent crime rates or suicide rates. Studies by Arthur Kellermann and Matthew Miller found that keeping a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of suicide. Other studies, however, found no association between gun ownership and suicide.
University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt argues in his paper, Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not, that available data indicate that neither stricter gun control laws nor more liberal concealed carry laws have had any significant effect on the decline in crime in the 1990s. A comprehensive review of published studies of gun control, released in November 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was unable to determine any statistically significant effect resulting from such laws, although the authors suggest that further study may provide more conclusive information.
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- National groups