Buyback of semi-automatic weapons worked for Australia

Published: January 5, 2013

Increasing access to guns as the solution of gun violence makes as much sense as doubling up on doughnuts to lose weight. Why not try responsible gun control including a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to buy back semi-automatic weapons? That's what Australia did in 1996 after a gunman killed 35 tourists and wounded 23 more. Their buyback covered about one-fifth of all firearms in Australia, including more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles.

Australian public support exceeded 90 percent for their new gun laws, which prohibited private sales, required individual registration of weapons to their owners and a reason why gun buyers needed each weapon at the time of purchase.

What happened? Hostile takeover by the government? No. Increase in home invasions? No. End of personal freedom? No.

Instead, homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent and suicides by 65 percent between 1995 and 2006 with studies showing “a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks.” There were 11 mass shootings in the decade before the Port Arthur massacre and not a single one in Australia since gun control measures were implemented.

Maybe Australians had finally had enough. What about us? The rights of NRA members and gun owners should no longer supersede my family's right to be safe. When U.S. citizens have the courage and political will to implement lifesaving gun control measures, then we'll achieve the same lifesaving results.

Jackie Gaston, Yukon

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