This astonishing statistic left me wondering, so I went looking for more sources, and found the graph below.
|Number of homicides per year in Australia.|
Two interesting things about this graph. First, homicides appeared to be on a downward trend even before 1996; less killings were happening each year, and the amount of homicides was within the confidence interval (shown by dotted lines) for the predicted line of best fit through the data. So, it appears Australia was becoming safer each year, even before the 1999 policy.
Second, what happened in 1999 and 2002? The murder rate suddenly spikes, well above the confidence interval for the predicted homicide rate. Apparently the number of deaths from firearms went down 59% overall from 1999-2006, but in 2002, the total number of deaths is considerably higher than any year in the past decade.
The only explanation is that after giving up their guns, Australians found other ways to kill each other that year. After that, homicides continued on their generally downward trend, just as they had before 1996.
The lesson: controlling guns is not a free ticket to preventing murders. Don't underestimate the ingenuity of an evil or unbalanced mind.