America’s National Rifle Association has published an article, Australia: There Will Be Blood, attacking the Australian gun laws that were introduced following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. The article was seemingly written in response to President Obama’s recent interview with American comedian and talk-show host, Marc Maron, where the pair discussed politically sensitive issues such as, racism, healthcare and gun control. Obama said that during his two term presidency he has too often had to make speeches in the wake of a gun massacre about a “devastating loss”. He explains that there are actions that could be taken to make events like the recent Charleston church shootings less likely. Furthermore, in his discussion with Marc Maron, Obama praised the Australian gun control tactics following the Port Arthur massacre stating, “It was just so shocking—the entire country said, ‘Well, we’re going to completely change our gun laws,’ and they did. And it hasn’t happened since.”
In the aftermath of Martin Bryant’s 1996 shooting spree in Port Arthur, Tasmania, where 35 people were killed and 23 wounded, the then newly-appointed Howard government introduced the Australian Firearms Act. The gun laws included a mandatory, mass buyback of the newly banned semi-automatic firearms, which included pump action shotguns and rifles. The NRA’s recent article warns readers that President Obama might support Australian-style gun reforms and claims that “the Australian people paid a massive price in liberty” and that the reward for that stolen liberty was “an unexamined resolution that things were somehow better now”. The statistics proves that they are. A study conducted by Australian National University’s Andrew Leigh and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University found that in the ten years following the implementation of the Firearms Act, the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent and there were no parallel increases in non-firearm homicide or suicide rates. The State’s which had a faster buy back scheme also saw a greater drop in suicide rates than those States with slower buyback schemes. For every 3,500 guns bought back out of 100, 000 people the firearm suicide rate reduced by 74 percent.
However, the National Rifle Association warns that the Australian gun confiscation laws are a lesson to American’s, that should they “hold [their] rights lightly” they too will be robbed of their “right to self-defence” and that criminals will be empowered. Supporters of gun control often look to Australia’s gun laws as evidence that government enforced restrictions on gun ownership can save lives as the statistics prove, whilst gun restriction opponents cite Australia as an example of “Orwellian big-government over-reach”.
It seems Australia’s gun control laws prove effective as Professor Simon Chapman, a public health researcher, has found that America’s gun homicide rate is 370 times that of Australia’s.
Do you believe the rest of the world should follow Australia’s view on gun control?