Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer warned Australians to “think twice” before traveling to the United States because you are “15 times more likely to be shot dead.”
In 1996, after a gunman killed 35 people and wounded 18 others in Port Arthur, a former penal colony turned tourist attraction, Australians collectively decided not to follow what then-Prime Minister John Howard called “the American way” on guns.
Just 12 days after the massacre, Howard, a conservative, announced that he had convinced Australia’s states to ban automatic and semiautomatic weapons and instigated a gun buyback for high-powered and rapid-fire rifles. A uniform system for registering and licensing firearms was introduced.
A third of the guns in Australia were handed in to the government. Polls found that as much as 90 percent of the public approved of the stricter gun laws.
There had been 11 gun massacres in the decade preceding 1996, but there have been no mass shootings since. This is a source of national pride, though statisticians still argue about what caused the change...
Philip Alpers, an adjunct associate professor at the Sydney School of Public Health and a specialist in firearm injury prevention, has documented that after the laws were changed, the risk of an Australian being killed by a gun fell by more than 50 percent. Australia’s gun homicide rate, 0.13 per 100,000 people, according to GunPolicy.org, is a tiny fraction of that of the United States (3.6 per 100,000 people). It should be noted that our gun homicide rates were already in decline, but the gun laws accelerated that slide.
In a 2010 paper, economists Andrew Leigh and Christine Neill found that the law change had led to a 65 percent decline in the rate of firearm suicides. Firearm homicides fell by 59 percent.
26 August 2013
Australia's experience with giving up guns
Recently a young Australian athlete "was shot in the back... as he jogged alongside a road in Oklahoma. One of the three teenagers who, according to police, left him to die in a drainage ditch said: “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.”