U.S. Response to Mass Shootings Perplexing to Countries That Passed Laws Curtailing Gun Violence
Residents of Britain and Australia were happy their governments took action to reduce gun violence after massacres occurred in their countries during the same year. They now shake their head in disbelief at the United States, where there seems to be no limit to the carnage before politicians will act to change gun laws.
David Marr, a journalist with Guardian Australia, wrote: “The people of America want gun control. The gun industry does not. The gun industry is winning.” Marr added the “slaughter” in the U.S. has not diminished the power of the gun lobby “a bit.” Another Australian, Nick Cater of the Menzies Research Centre, a center-right think tank that promotes individual liberty, called America’s gun policy “lunatic.”
Australia said enough was enough with gun violence in 1996, when a gunman wielding a semiautomatic rifle killed 35 people at a popular tourist destination on the Australian island of Tasmania. In response, the Australian government banned high-powered rifles and shotguns and imposed uniform gun licensing requirements for guns that remained legal. The government also instituted a gun buyback program. That, along with voluntary surrenders of firearms, resulted in more than a million weapons being destroyed.
The policy worked. In the last 19 years, there have been no mass shootings in Australia, defined as five or more people being shot, according to ThinkProgress.
The British took a similar approach to a mass shooting. Parliament banned the private ownership of automatic weapons and handguns after a man armed with four handguns in 1996 stormed a schoolhouse gym in Dunblane, Scotland, and murdered 16 children.
“You never see people with guns in this country,” Sir Stephen House, who stepped down last month as chief constable of the Scottish police, told The New York Times. “If you do, you’re in a rural area and it’s a bloke out shooting rabbits.” Of the roughly 55 homicides in the country in the last 12 months, “one or two of those” were by shooting, House said.
But in the United States, even after the Sandy Hook massacre of schoolchildren, Congress would not pass expanded gun safety legislation.
-Steve Straehley, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
In Scotland, Unlike America, Mass Shooting Led to Stricter Gun Laws (by Al Baker, New York Times)
Australians Marvel at the Stranglehold the Gun Lobby Has On America (by Judd Legum, ThinkProgress)
This is What Happened When Australia Introduced Tight Gun Controls (by Laura Smith-Spark, CNN)
U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons (by Jonathan Masters, Council on Foreign Relations)
U.S. has 5% of World Population, but 31% of Public Shootings of 4 or more Victims (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
As Mass Shootings Continue, Congress Remains Gun Shy about Enacting New Laws (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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