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What do water, fish, and guns have in common?

During my time here in Australia, I am studying the Government’s buyback of water rights. Essentially, the Government gave out too many water rights before they realized the negative impacts that such extensive withdrawals would have on the environment. Now, the Government is trying to fix the overallocation problem by buying back water rights from willing sellers.

In my reading for my research, I discovered that the Australian Government has a number of buyback experiences, including two for guns. In the first gun buyback, the Government put a moratorium on prosecution for owning any illegal weapons that were handed in as part of the buyback. They collected and destroyed some 660,000 weapons. In the second buyback, they set up buyback centers at local gun clubs, and they paid people between $500 and $2000 for handguns. I was shocked frankly to read this because I could never imagine the NRA participating in a gun buyback program.

Buybacks have also been used in fisheries — something we also learned about in our Natural Resources class this past fall. It was great to read about the fisheries buybacks and to already have a good understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of such a system.

Anyways, back to the guns. I think I mentioned before that we’ve been eating kangaroo, which is sort of equivalent to deer. Except that you have to be a professional hunter to kill the kangaroos. I think this is partly because not very many people have guns since they conducted the buybacks.

Thinking back to Vermont and the relative popularity of deer hunting, it sort of seems too bad that more people can’t go out and hunt for kangaroo meat, since it’s a pretty sustainable source of food.

But, on the other hand, it’s perhaps a pretty reasonable trade-off to have guns mostly absent from the rest of society. Anyways, just an interesting thing related to my research here that I thought was worth sharing. And now, back to reading…


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