Australia Successfully Reformed Gun Laws, Why Can’t The US?

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America should take notes from Australia, where gun-related murders and suicides plummeted after the government implemented stronger gun control measures.

Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Ave. and Las Vegas Blvd. after Sunday's mass shooting

The United States could learn a thing or two from the Aussies about gun control.

Following Sunday night’s shooting massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada, the gun control debate is back at the center of attention with the same contentions flying back and forth between gun control advocates and gun owners.

While the two sides have not come to a viable solution as of yet, one thing most of us can agree on is that something must be done about the prevalence of these senseless shootings.

Many gun control advocates are citing Australia’s gun reform measures as a model for how America should handle this ongoing issue.

Back in 1996, stricter gun laws were implemented in Australia after 35 people were killed in the Port Arthur massacre, and after that, gun-related murders and suicides plummeted throughout the entire country.

Australia collected approximately 650,000 privately-owned guns in what would be known as one of the largest mandatory gun buyback programs in modern history, according to Vox news.

"I knew that I had to use the authority of my office to curb the possession and use of the type of weapons that killed 35 innocent people," Australia’s former Prime Minister John Howard wrote in a 2013 op-ed for The New York Times. "I also knew it wouldn’t be easy."

The National Firearms Agreement (NFA) restricted legal ownership of firearms in Australia and established a registry of all guns owned in the country. Additionally, it required a permit for all new firearm purchases.

One of the most prominent measures of the NFA was a total ban against certain types of firearms, including automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

A major factor that is often brought up in the U.S. gun debate is the fact that shooters are able to quickly take and injure so many lives because of their use of military-style weapons. Someone armed with only a handgun would certainly not be able to take as many victims as easily and as quickly as someone with an assault rifle.

A similar ban against those particular weapons in America would surely be instrumental in curbing this mass shooting epidemic. Furthermore, the NFA offered legal amnesty for illegal gun owners who turned in their weapons, which made for a strong incentive to get as many handguns off the streets as possible.

On Tuesday, Australia offered its help in being a model for the U.S. to reform its gun policies.

“What we can offer is our experience," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, according to Channel NewsAsia.

"But at the end of the day it's going to be up to the United States legislators and lawmakers, and the United States public, to change the laws to ensure this type of incident doesn't happen again," she added.

While it can be argued that Australia and the U.S. differ vastly culturally and politically, that doesn't mean that Americans cannot look to their strategies to develop something similar that works for our country. 

The uptick in mass shootings in the U.S. is a clear indication that there is no room for excuses any longer.

The old saying goes, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" — but gun laws in America and the outdated Second Amendment are, indeed, broken. It's high time we get to fixing. 

Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, David Gray

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