Australia Got Tough on Guns —Here's What Happened

Since changing its laws after 1996 massacre, no mass shootings
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2012 11:49 AM CST
Australia Got Tough on Guns —Here's What Happened
The debate rages in the US. Can we learn anything from Australia?   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

America certainly doesn't have a monopoly on gun-enabled massacres: In April 1996, 35 people were killed in Tasmania, in what was Australia's deadliest mass murder. The country reacted in a way that Will Oremus calls "remarkable": It forged a bipartisan deal just 12 days later that established tough new gun laws. Those laws "worked really, really well," writes Oremus for Slate. One key component, per Oremus, was the buyback of upward of 600,000 semi-automatic weapons, taking about 20% of the country's shotguns and rifles out of circulation.

Among the other restrictions: Would-be buyers had to supply a "genuine reason" for needing the gun they wanted to purchase—and self-defense wasn't a legitimate one. Between 1986 and the massacre, Australia weathered 11 mass shootings; in the years since, there have been zero. (Homicides and suicides by firearms have dropped more than 50% as well.) Some "contrarian studies" emerged, mainly the work of gun advocates, but Oremus notes that they have been "effectively refuted." In the wake of Sandy Hook, "I wonder if Americans are still so sure that we have nothing to learn from Australia’s example." Click to read Oremus' full column. (More gun control stories.)

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