Key to this success is probably the reduction in people’s exposure to semiautomatic weapons, Johns Hopkins University health policy researcher Daniel Webster writes in an accompanying editorial.
“Here’s a society that recognized a public safety threat, found it unacceptable, and took measures to address the problem,” Webster says.
In April 1996, a man with two semiautomatic rifles shot and killed 35 people in Tasmania and wounded at least 18 others. Two months after the shooting, known as the Port Arthur massacre, Australia began implementing a comprehensive set of gun regulations, called the National Firearms Agreement.
The NFA is famous for banning semiautomatic long guns (including the ones used by the Port Arthur shooter), but, as Webster points out, it also made buying other guns a lot harder too. People have to document a “genuine need,” pass a safety test, wait a minimum of 28 days, have no restraining orders for violence and demonstrate good moral character, among other restrictions, Webster writes.
“In Australia, they look at someone’s full record and ask, ‘Is this a good idea to let this person have a firearm?’” Webster says. In the United States, “we do pretty much the opposite. The burden is on the government to show that you are too dangerous to have a firearm.” [Continue reading…]