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Open Fire Down Under

How Australia figured out how to end mass shootings.
Ben Richmond
Κείμενο Ben Richmond

In the week since James Holmes opened fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Col., talking heads on cable and some members of Congress have solemnly agreed that this is not the time to talk about gun control. Certainly you don’t want to see victims of a tragedy turned into pawns in an ongoing and almost never rational debate. However, I can’t help but wonder if inaction is actually the most disrespectful response.


Mass shootings have resulted in stricter firearms regulations elsewhere in the free world, including Scotland, New Zealand and Australia. And somehow those nations still exist.

When a similar, terrible thing happened in Australia, for instance, the government concluded that a strict regulation of firearms was integral for having a safe, prosperous society, which is pretty much what a government is for. In the aftermath of a shooting, Australia went from being a country with fairly lax gun laws to one of extremely tight regulations.

The changes followed what is now referred to as the Port Arthur massacre. On April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant opened fire in a café in Port Arthur, Tasmania. During his 18-hour spree, the 28-year-old gunman killed 35 and left many wounded with an automatic weapon.

Following the tragedy, the Australian states and federal government set about changing their gun laws, banning semi-automatic rifles, enacting a 28-day delay between getting a “license to acquire” and getting the gun itself, buying back 600,000 of the now illegal guns in 1997 and requiring all guns to be registered.

To hear the NRA tell it, gun laws only make the population weaker and more liable to be attacked, and any move for a national gun registry is only in preparation for a Nazi takeover. So how is Antipodean Reich these days? Has Mad Max come to pass without a casually armed populace to stop them?

Read the rest over at Motherboard.