Australia’s Response To Gun Violence Can Show The Way For the US

Australia’s Response To Gun Violence Can Show The Way For the US
Australia’s Response To Gun Violence Can Show The Way For the US

Every time the United States experiences a mass shooting incident, Australia’s gun laws come into focus.

Nearly 22 years ago, weeks after Australia witnessed its worst-ever  mass shooting, the country  brought in drastic changes to its gun laws which has effectively brought down such incidents to nil.

The recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida which has taken 17 lives has yet again drawn attention to Australia’s approach.

Swift Legislative Action

In 1996 a man used a semi-automatic weapon to kill 35 people in Australia’s popular tourist site, Port Arthur in Tasmania. As a response to it, the country’s states introduced legislation that banned rapid-fire guns in an effort to curb mass shootings. They also offered to buy from citizens the prohibited firearms.

According to research studies, the measures seem to have taken effect.

Research Show Measures Have Worked

A  2016 study conducted by University of Sydney, the results of which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that Australia has not witnessed even one fatal mass shooting since the 1996 one. A fatal mass shooting is defined as that in which five or more are killed .

Between 1979 and 1996, there had been 13 cases of such fatal mass shootings in Australia.

Data also reveal that the total firearm deaths in the country , which had been already dropping before 1996, declined faster after the changes. The study however found  that non-gun-related homicides and suicides were also lower, indicating that the research could not categorically state that the new gun laws were behind the changes.

But one researcher, University of Sydney professor Simon Chapman has argued that Australia’s ban on rapid-fire firearms  helped curb “mass shootings and total firearm deaths.” He noted that the study might help other countries as it demonstrates that measures taken with “public support and political courage”, might cut down gun deaths.

Australia’s Offer To the US

Australia has offered to provide assistance to the U.S. to tackle the issue.

After the deadly Las Vegas shooting in October, which was the worst-ever in the U.S. history, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop highlighted that Australia had reacted with “a legislative response” and it was now up to U.S. lawmakers and legislators to “deal with this issue.”


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