Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Lesson from Australia

By: Callie Ball

A total of 8,305 people as of August 5 have been killed from gun violence in the United States, in 2016 alone. With more mass shootings occurring every year, the conversation over gun control continues to grow louder. I am not going to give you a list of all those different viewpoints and what they mean; I haven’t the time and I’m certain you have already heard them. Instead, I would like to give you a history lesson.

Port Arthur, Australia, 1996, a single gunman armed with a high powered rifle opens fire at a café, killing 35 people. Then-prime minister John Howard, just 6 weeks into his term and only 12 days after that mass shooting, launched major gun control laws into effect. The new laws made it illegal to import or sell automatic or semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, required citizens to wait 28 days before buying a firearm and only after presenting a legitimate reason as to why one is being purchased. It also called for a government gun buyback, firearms to be stored and locked up separately from its ammunition and have surprise police checks.

In the 15 years before Port Arthur, there were 13 previous mass shootings in Australia. In the 20 years since there has not been a single one.

In an interview with CBS News Sunday Morning, Carolyn Laughton, a survivor of the Port Arthur shooting in which she lost her daughter stated after being asked if there was a lesson for the U.S. in what Australia has done, “I am loath to comment. But my question is, ‘How is it going over there?’ But I can’t answer that for you. My heart goes out to all of you over there in America. Life is so short. And every one of us is somebody’s child. And when we see what’s happening, your hearts bleed.”

“People used to say to me, ‘You’ve violated my human rights by taking away my gun.’ And I’d respond, ‘I understand that. Will you please understand the argument; the greatest human right of all is to live a safe life without fear of random murder.” – John Howard


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