When people ask me why I moved from America to Australia, I hate to admit that one of the reasons was gun violence. It seems almost outlandish to cite gun violence as a reason for shipping oneself off to the farthest corner of the globe, but while I was living in America, the fear of being gunned down by a random assailant burrowed itself into the back of my mind and continued to grow with every occurrence of a mass shooting.
Here in Australia, the news is uneventful (and I’d like for it to stay that way). But Australian news could have very easily turned out to be like the American news we see today, had it not been for the swift gun control measures put in place by the Australian government following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were killed by a mentally unstable gunman. Between 1996 and 2014, the incidence of gun related deaths dropped dramatically — by about half. Moreover, by some definitions, there have been no mass shootings in Australia since 1996 (by other counts, one has occurred). Let’s discuss why.
Australian gun law reforms
Under the National Firearms Agreement of 1996, Australia took a unified approach to regulating gun ownership across all states. As summarized by the Library of Congress, the reforms included:
… a ban on certain semiautomatic and self-loading rifles and shotguns, standard licensing and permit criteria, storage requirements and inspections, and greater restrictions on the sale of firearms and ammunition. Firearms license applicants would be required to take a safety course and show a “genuine reason” for owning a firearm, which could not include self-defense. The reasons for refusing a license would include “reliable evidence of a mental or physical condition which would render the applicant unsuitable for owning, possessing or using a firearm.” A waiting period of twenty-eight days would apply to the issuing of both firearms licenses and permits to acquire each weapon.
Alongside legislative reforms to implement the National Firearms Agreement, a national buyback program for prohibited weapons took place in 1996-1997 and resulted in more than 700,000 weapons being surrendered...
Excerpt from post originally published on Madame Noire.