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Port Arthur Massacre - Part Three: Australia Reacts

Category: Guns
Posted: 01/20/13 15:40, Edited: 01/20/13 18:21

by Dave Mindeman

Alright, in Parts 1 and 2 we have set the full background of what happened at Port Arthur. Now we cut the chase....how did Australia react and what did the country do about it.

Prior to the Port Arthur massacre, Australia was no stranger to mass shootings. In the 12 years prior to Port Arthur....

25 January 1996 Hillcrest, QLD......... 7 people dead
31 March 1993 Cangai, NSW............ 6 people dead
27 October 1992 Terrigal , NSW........ 6 people dead
17 August 1991 Strathfield, NSW...... 7 people dead
30 August 1990 Surry Hills, NSW....... 5 people dead
25 September 1988 Oenpelli, NT...... 6 people dead
8 December 1987 Queen St, VIC...... 9 people dead
10 October 1987 Canley Vale, NSW... 6 people dead
9 August 1987 Hoddle St, VIC ..........7 people dead
19 June 1987 Top End, NT/WA..........6 people dead
1 June 1984 Wahroonga -............... 6 people dead
24 September 1981 Campsie, NSW...6 people dead

The horror of Port Arthur called Australia to action. In the wake of the shooting, ?a national upwelling of grief and revulsion saw pollsters reporting 90?95% public approval for stringent new gun laws.?

The Prime Minister of Australia was John Howard...a member of Australia's conservative party and a staunch ally of President George W. Bush during the Iraq War. He was favored by gun advocates and the gun lobby in Australia (although not revered)....although that lobby did not have the same abilities as our country's NRA.

But after Port Arthur, the Prime Minister became the stongest possible advocate for sweeping gun control legislation.

"I think if anything, it helped that John Howard was a conservative prime minister," says Dr. Erin O'brien, a professor of criminology at the Queensland University of Technology. "It really showed that there was bipartisan support for this."

The essence of the sweeping proposals had many parts. Some of them are.....

1. The new laws prohibited all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and imposed strict licensing rules. Even paintball guns need a permit.

2. The laws required background checks and lengthy waiting periods for all purchases. Background checks include criminal, mental, addiction, domestic violence, residential, and any other background deemed pertinent. Waiting periods are 28 days for first puchase and varied time periods for more purchases after that.

3, Persons requesting a firearm must state a genuine reason for getting the firearm. Personal protection is NOT a valid reason.

4. Some licenses require third party character references.

5. A thorough and tested understanding of firearm safety is required before licensure.

6. Firearm owners are required to reapply for licensure every 1 to 5 years depending on the category.

7. Australia requires thorough recordkeeping on gun licenses and transfers of firearms must be done through a license bureau.

8. Ammunition purchases are strictly limited by amount and how much is purchased over a designated period.

9. Gun shows are regulated by the government.

10. Private sales of firearms by individuals are prohibited unless dealing with a licensed firearm dealer as an intermediary.

Other laws are detailed and extensive and strict.

The government bought back more than 650,000 weapons from existing owners, and tightened requirements for licensing, registration, and safe storage of firearms.

One of the most important aspects to understand here is that the Prime Minister had to sell his gun package to each of Australia's various states and territories. The Aussie government managed to convince the states to adopt identical legal packages that made the gun laws enacted uniform across Australia.

Ironically, one of Howard's most convincing arguments involved America....

The then Prime Minister John Howard frequently referred to the USA to explain his opposition to civilian firearms ownership and use in Australia, stating that he did not want Australia to go "down the American path".

On the 10th Anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre in 2006, Howard used American gun culture again....

"I did not want Australia to go down the American path. There are some things about America I admire and there are some things I don't. And one of the things I don't admire about America is their... slavish love of guns."

Here is the bottom line....

1. In the 7 years before the NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate per 100 000 was 0.43 (range:0.27?0.60), whereas for the 7 years after NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate was 0.25 (range: 0.16?0.33).

2. ?In the 18 years up to and including 1996, the year of the massacre at Port Arthur, Australia experienced 13 mass shootings. In these events alone, 112 people were shot dead and at least another 52 wounded. In the 16 years since Port Arthur and the revised gun laws, no mass shootings have occurred in Australia.

A result worth noting....

Part 4: Comparisons

15 Things to Know About Australia's Incredibly Effective Gun Clampdown

Australia: Gun Facts
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