So How Has Australia All But Ended Gun Violence?

Back in April 1996 a man named Martin Bryant drove to a beauty spot in Port Arthur Tasmania which happened to be brimming with tourists, had lunch and after taking a semi-automatic weapon out of his tennis bag, he opened fire. In the resulting carnage, 35 people were shot dead and 18 were injured.

The weapon used was a Colt AR-15, a magazine-fed, lightweight semi-automatic rifle that fired several rounds per second. The outcome was that inevitably and sadly, by pointing the gun into a crowd full of tourists, it was virtually impossible not to hit someone.

If this sounds all too horrifically familiar given the recent school shooting in Florida where 17 people were killed, there is a remarkable difference to the ending of the story. In the aftermath of the Tasmania incident the Australian authorities stepped in and took a radical approach. They banned military style weapons including semi-automatic rifles across the country. The federal government prohibited their import while the lawmakers introduced a radical gun buyback scheme to encourage owners to freely give up their weapons.

Amazingly the response was overwhelming and many of them did just that. This is all the more surprising when we consider Australia to be a land of pioneers who had never been one to embrace any kind of government regulation.

That said, the massacre at Port Arthur came on the back of a wake of other deadly shooting sprees and it’s probable that the country was sick to the stomach of them.

So what did happen after the ban on military style assault weapons?

The answer – absolutely nothing!

Nothing that is…in a good way!

The economy hasn’t taken a nosedive, Australian independence hasn’t ended, tyrannical rule hasn’t ensued. Instead Australians are just happily getting on with their lives. They’re still riding the big surf and living the great outdoor lifestyle. In fact violence as a whole has gone down in many forms, not up! Somehow policymakers on either side of the gun ownership debate managed to put their differences aside for want of a better cause and legislate.

As for the mass shootings? Well the figures speak for themselves…There has been no similar shooting spree on this scale on Australian soil since. But more than that, gun crime declined to such an extent that it now has a murder rate one fifth of the size of the America’s at just one killing per 1000,000 people. So while the White House is suggesting arming it’s teachers and stepping up armed security in schools, maybe, just maybe in a world of hypotheticals, there remains a simple workable solution with proven results.

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