Irony: CBS Hails Australia’s Massive Gun Confiscation After Story on Surging U.S. Gun Sales

In what certainly won’t be the latest case of irony in the liberal media, Tuesday’s CBS Evening News immediately pivoted from a full report on surging gun sales in the United States following mass shootings to a piece prominently touting Australia’s massive gun control and confiscation initiatives carried out in the 1990's.

As soon as correspondent Carter Evans concluded his story on how gun sales have climbed in the U.S. in the days following the San Bernardino terror attack, anchor Scott Pelley informed viewers how there are “some countries with no Second Amendment” that “have banned certain firearms after massacres.”

Foreign correspondent Holly Williams started by interviewing one Australian gun owner before explaining that in order “to own a gun in Australia, you need a license, which with background checks takes at least 28 days and sometimes months.” 

This all comes in addition to bans on “[a]ll semiautomatic long-arm weapons” and “carry[ing] a gun for personal protection.”

As for how that came about, Williams provided a brief primer on how the bans happened as a “result of a public outcry after 35 people were massacred by a lone gunman in 1996.” Holly then turned to then-Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who told her that he “had just been elected” and with “the authority of an enormous majority...I had to do something.”

Howard continued by telling an intently-listening Williams that he doesn’t view gun control “as a civil liberties issue” because “[t]he greatest civil right you have is to stay alive” and thus a “far more precious civil right than owning a gun.”

Williams further detailed the massive confiscation before giving only a short nod to an contrasting viewpoint:

Under the new laws, the government launched a national buyback program, confiscating more than 600,000 banned guns. Since them, the number of deaths by firearm has fallen by about half, though it was already in decline before 1996. The ban hasn't stopped gun violence, often with illegal weapons, including a siege in Sydney last year by a mentally disturbed gunman who claimed to be inspired by ISIS. 

The CBS correspondent closed by speaking with a sympathetic Australian gun owner before mentioning that Australia made it all happen thanks to there being no equivalent to the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the U.S.:

85 percent of Australians either support their country's gun laws or think they should be even tougher, according to a recent opinion poll, but, Scott, what Australia does not have is a powerful and wealthy gun lobby, like the one that exists in the U.S. 

Writing in a September 5 piece for The Federalist, Washington Free Beacon (and former MRC employee) writer Stephen Gutowski astutely poked a few holes in this popular talking point by the left, whether it’s the fact that the crime rate didn’t tumble thanks to what took place or drive down suicide rates.

The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on December 8 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
December 8, 2015
6:37 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Australia’s Reaction]

SCOTT PELLEY: Some countries with no Second Amendment have banned certain firearms after massacres. Can that work? Holly Williams found out in Australia. 

(....) 

WILLIAMS: But to own a gun in Australia, you need a license, which with background checks takes at least 28 days and sometimes months. All semiautomatic long-arm weapons are banned, and it's illegal to carry a gun for personal protection. 

(....) 

WILLIAMS: The ban was the result of a public outcry after 35 people were massacred by a lone gunman in 1996. 

FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER JOHN HOWARD: I had just been elected. I had the authority of an enormous majority, and I had to do something. [IN 1996] Total ban throughout life. 

WILLIAMS: John Howard was Australia's Conservative Prime Minister at the time and fought off opposition from his own party to push the ban through. 

HOWARD: I don't regard this thing as a civil liberties issue. The greatest civil right you have is to stay alive. Staying alive and being free from random attack is a far more precious civil right than owning a gun. 

WILLIAMS: Under the new laws, the government launched a national buyback program, confiscating more than 600,000 banned guns. Since them, the number of deaths by firearm has fallen by about half, though it was already in decline before 1996. The ban hasn't stopped gun violence, often with illegal weapons, including a siege in Sydney last year by a mentally disturbed gunman who claimed to be inspired by ISIS. 

STEVE BALLAS: These are our most popular firearms. 

WILLIAMS: But even Steve Ballas, a gun shop owner, believes Australia's laws are saving lives. 

BALLAS No doubt. A lot of firearms have been taken out of undesirables' hands. Obviously, there are still a lot out there, but, you know, they're thinning them out. 

WILLIAMS [TO BALLAS]: I mean, if you were in America, you'd probably sell a lot more guns and make a lot more money. 

BALLAS: Yeah, I suppose sometimes it's not all about the money. 

HOWARD: There are too many guns lying around and you lose your temper, even rational people will pick up the gun and shoot somebody. It's much harder if I can put it bluntly, to kill 10 people with a knife than it is to kill 10 people with a gun. 

WILLIAMS: 85 percent of Australians either support their country's gun laws or think they should be even tougher, according to a recent opinion poll, but, Scott, what Australia does not have is a powerful and wealthy gun lobby, like the one that exists in the U.S. 

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Australia Guns Media Bias Debate Double Standards Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS Evening News Australian Media Video Government & Press Holly Williams Gun Control Scott Pelley
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