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Australia Hasn’t Had A Mass Shooting In Two Decades Because Of Simple Policy

Australia Hasn’t Had A Mass Shooting In Two Decades Because Of Simple Policy

It took one mass shooting for the government to install new gun laws and there hasn't been a massacre since

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

Another awful shooting in America has reignited the debate about gun control and whether restrictions should be placed on those who staunchly believe in the second amendment. Some of the worst atrocities to hit the land of the free - Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Texas and now Florida - have been committed with the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

The growing list of victims seems to only divide America further, between those calling for tighter gun laws and those demanding access to weapons to protect themselves.


Every time there is a massacre in the US involving guns, people are quick to point to Australia as a system worthy of emulation.

In 1996, Martin Bryant committed Australia's worst mass shooting, killing 35 people and wounding a further 23, at Port Arthur, Tasmania. He was sentenced to 35 consecutive life sentences and is still serving at the Risdon Prison Complex.

Understandably, the nation was in shock and there were calls for politicians to ensure this could never happen again (mirroring calls in America whenever such tragedies occur), and they did. Then Prime Minister John Howard worked quickly to introduce a policy that would make it more difficult to own a weapon - including the Colt AR-15 semi-automatic that Bryant used.

While 85 percent of Aussies were in support of tightening gun laws, the federal government faced opposition from Tasmania and Queensland as well as groups or organisations like the Australian League of Rights.

Eventually, the Coalition managed to persuade every state and territory to agree to restricting the ownership of self-loading rifles and self-loading shotguns, while also introducing tougher laws for recreational shooters.

There was also a buy-back scheme launched, which would pay gun owners to return their weapons.

In total, the government forked out AUD $350 million and 643,000 guns were returned.

Channel 10

A 2016 study by associate professor of criminal justice Adam Lankford concluded: "In the wake of these policies, Australia has yet to experience another public mass shooting."

The UK had a similar experience with the 1996 Dunblane massacre, where 16 children and one teacher was brutally killed by Thomas Hamilton. This was Britain's first and only ever school shooting and legislation was introduced a year later that restricted the ownership of small firearms.

The laws were so strict that even UK Olympic shooters had to train in Northern Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

So there's no surprise that there are some Americans crying out for the conversation over gun control to progress further.


Interestingly, a month after his inauguration, President Donald Trump overturned an Obama-led piece of legislation that made it more difficult for people with mental illness to own a weapon.

After the Las Vegas shooting last year - America's worst ever massacre, in terms of the number of people killed or wounded - Trump said there would be a time and place to talk about gun reform.

There have been 101 mass shootings (at least four people injured and/or killed) since then and thus far, there has only been silence.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: America, News, Interesting, weapons, Australia