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Australia's lesson in gun control

March 26th, 2013
04:14 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

In many countries, a mass-murder involving guns leads to a single thing: Stringent new laws limiting access to weapons.

A string of mass killings in the United States, including the murder of 20 children in Connecticut last December, sparked a new push for gun limitations from President Obama.

Australia had its own experience with a mass killing, in Tasmania, in 1996. A lone gunman killed 35 people in what came to be known as the Port Arthur Massacre.

The prime minister at the time, John Howard, explained how he dealt with the aftermath to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“It was because that massacre was so terrible,” he said, “I was able to use the authority I had as a newly elected prime minister with a big majority to force the states that had the legal control over automatic and semi-automatic weapons to introduce a national ban.”

Howard was a conservative prime minister; nonetheless, he faced a large opposition, particularly in rural states. But he was able to force through the legislation by threatening to take the issue to the nation through a referendum, which he believes would have passed.

He was cautious to compare his country’s experience to America’s.

“I don't come here with any lectures,” he said. “We don't have constitutional guarantees in relation to these things,” and Australia started with a much lower gun death rate.

“However,” Howard added, “that doesn't alter the fact that our murder rate using guns has fallen and there's not much doubt in my mind that it's the availability of guns that causes such a high rate of murder using weapons.”


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soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. SOUFIAN H. KARGBO IN FREETOWN

    Strong measures are needed inorder to cut down the rate of gun killings.

    March 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  2. Ngineer

    Yes, strong gun control laws reduce the rate of violent crime by guns. However, it does not reduce the rate of violent crime. In some cases the statistics seem to reflect an overallincrease in violent crime when you disarm the general public.

    March 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Reply
    • Duffmiver

      This is true. In the UK, gun homicides have lowered, but overall violent crime has increased exponentially. Basically, the thugs know that they can attack innocent people, frequently in their own homes, and get away without serious risk of death.

      Want to reduce gun homicides in the U.S.? Do nothing different. Since 1991, gun murders in the U.S. have dropped 50%, Regardless of the tragic events of Aurora and Newtown, 2012 still had one of the lowest homicide rates on record in over 100 years in the U.S. Seems to me that society is policing itself on these issues.

      March 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Reply
      • Cherie

        Yes, but it makes mass killings like those mentioned much harder and that's the point. There will always be crime. No one is saying it will stop all violent crimes. As long as there are humans there will be crimes.

        May 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
  3. Leigh

    I am an Australian, and was here when the massacre happened in Tasmania. The murderer in that case used a fraudulent license (because he was judged mentally incompetant to handle his own affairs, it also disqualified him from having a firearm) to illegally acquire firearms from a licensed dealer. More laws didnt help when no one followed the laws that were there. Look to New Zealand, which had a massacre about the same time, and has gone longer without a mass shooting than Australia. AR15s are still permitted there – all semi automatics are. They have a system of licensing but no registration for longarms. The cops dont even regularly carry firearms (unlike Australia), so they must think its safe too.

    March 26, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  4. Troy Scott

    First of all before we compare statistics we must find a country to compare. One that is comparable to the US. First of all before we get carried away we need to look at one fact. Obama stated that 90% of the guns in Mexico come from the US. This is entirely not true. Google it! 90% of the guns they let the ATF examine came from the US. The rest (66%) came from countries supporting the drug trade. If the drug cartel needs guns to continue their operation they can get them in here. Back to comparing countries. How does Australia stop the cartel from walking across their border? How does Australia keep their organized crime in check? In 2011 Australia reported that organized crime cost the country between 10 and 15 billion per year. The US reported that organized crime cost the US 870 billion. Let’s find a country to compare. Maybe we should look at China? They average less that 10 per year, total.

    March 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Reply
    • dggdgwd

      Australia has a population of 22 million
      The US has a population of 300 milliom
      ...That's probably why it costs them more!!!!

      So in actual fact, if the population of Australia was around the same population of the US, you would see around the same cost for organised crime! Therefore we CAN compare Australia and the US........

      May 14, 2013 at 12:11 am | Reply
  5. Mike White

    A helpful and informative article.
    Anyone that is uncomfortable with the US Second Amendment should feel free to relocate to Australia.

    March 27, 2013 at 4:29 am | Reply
    • Matt

      I am no expert but I can't find a passage in the 2nd amendment that states that everyone shall have the right to bear any kind of arms with no limitations. Plus there are already limitations on the other amendments, too (e.g. limitations to the 1st amendment)

      So either you take it all the way and accept no limitations at all (allowing everybody free access to things like nukes, tanks, and cruise missiles without limitation) – or you live with the fact that sane governments sometimes have to implement certain limitations.

      March 28, 2013 at 11:04 am | Reply
  6. John

    Australia has learned that strong gun control increased their rate of violent crime across the board.

    March 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • BOb

      violent gun crime in AUstralia has now climbed back to it's pre-ban levels.

      April 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  7. ewh53

    Removing guns from citizens who obey the law will not change anything in the US. The criminals and mentally deranged will have their guns and continue to kill. People need to wake up and understand why we have the 2nd amendment.

    March 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  8. Reality Rich

    Here in the USA, sadly, the amount of gun crime would drop over 50% if all the non-whites disappeared tonight. FBI records show blacks are 13% of the US population yet commit 50% of rape and murder. Yet they want to take my guns? Let me send our homeys in mass to Australia and see how their no gun thing works.

    March 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Reply
    • michelbakker

      Using that logic it's better to get rid of the lower income class. Poverty causes most crime. But it's more accepted to blame people for their skin color then their economic situation. Which is a bit weird.

      May 10, 2013 at 10:22 am | Reply
  9. Stewart

    "The US Department of Justice reports that approximately 60% of all adult firearm deaths are by suicide."

    Make it harder for those that don't like their own lives to take the innocent with them.

    April 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  10. BOb

    Recent research here in Australia has resulted in the State Police admitting that violent gun crime has now climbed back to pre-gun ban limit. Howard hasn't admitted this, as he has recently been beating hte bush telling everyone about his success. What he is saying is contrary to the truth, but that won't stop him. He is uninformed, sadly.

    April 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  11. Josh

    John Howard doesn't know what he is talking about take a look at this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyS3CEIbpJo

    April 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  12. harviele

    That is just it, no one wants to take the guns from the people. Anti background check people think the purpose is to take away their guns. That is not true. This proves that people are pretty darn stupid. Law abiding citizens who are not mentally ill and have no criminal record will have no problem purchasing guns. The second amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. It does not specify what type of arms.

    April 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • Merry

      You can take my AR15 but you'll have to pry my blunderbuss from my cold dead hand.

      April 26, 2013 at 9:29 am | Reply
  13. Hal Longue

    This article is an OUTRIGHT LIE! All crime has risen greatly since this anti freedom move!

    Check ANY actual statistic except a One World Government site....

    April 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Reply

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