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Australian vs American gun laws

By polskapolka Nov 17, 2013 832 Words
Australia has had severe gun laws since the year 1997 after the fatal massacre shooting in Port Arthur, executed by Martin Bryant, which resulted in the death of 35 people while injuring 23. There have always been low levels of violent crimes associated with firearms, particularly in the 20th century, yet because of their low priority; public concern levels remained very low. In the last 2 decades, the government has put in place strict gun laws following several high profile mass murders and a large media campaign. The first decade of the new gun laws saw a 59% drop in Australian gun-homicides, while statistics related to non-firearm related homicides remained relatively similar. As for mass shootings, we’ve gone from 11 a decade (from the year 1986 to 1996) to zero. The Australian government’s primary responsibility is ensuring public safety. After the 1996 massacre at Port Arthur, Prime Minister John Howard made changes to the laws after surveys of citizens found that the public’s attitude towards guns had changed and 90% of Australians surveyed wanted new gun restrictions as they were in fear of their lives. The government seized over 600,000 fire arms at a cost of almost half a billion dollars, which were all destroyed. Gun violence since the change in laws has been almost inexistent. The number of licensed gun owners in Australia is close to 765,000, which is around 5.2% of the Australian population, with these firearms being used only for hunting purposes, controlling feral animals such as rats that destroy private farm land, collecting and target shooting. Even paint ball guns now need a permit. One of the reforms introduced was that people need to present a justifiable need to have a weapon, it has never been a justifiable reason, nor should it ever be, to own a handgun to protect yourself or others from a home invasion or to use for self-defence. The new laws put in place under the 1996 National Agreement on Firearms state that anyone wishing to possess or use a firearm must first obtain a Licence, which can only be acquired by someone over the age of 18. The owner of the firearm must possess a secure storage unit for this weapon. Before purchasing a firearm one must firstly obtain a Permit to Acquire. This permit has a 28 day delay before it can be issued. In some states, Victoria included, this is waived for second and subsequent firearms of the same class. A genuine reason must be provided for each firearm, relating to the justifiable reasons stated earlier. Every firearm owned in Australia receives a serial number after registration. Some states allow one to store or borrow another person’s firearm if the person borrowing it already own one of the same category. The continuous drop in deaths due to firearms in Australia since the change in gun laws in the late 1990’s proves that stricter gun laws have been successful in protecting hundreds of lives. In the year 1988, almost a decade before the firm gun laws were put in place, 696 people died from gun wounds, while in the year 1998 there were only 327 deaths from gun wounds. In the year 2010, this figure dropped to 236 people. Australia is continually urging America to give up guns and have laws similar to ours to protect innocent people who lose their lives as a result of gun violence, particularly after the shooting of 20 children in a school in Newton, however they are against having gun laws similar to ours. The President of the Guns Owners of America stated that America does not wish to be like Australia as they are their own nation, even drawing from the first amendment which is the right to freedom, declaring that “the gun is the emblem of the free man”. We too value freedom, but we don’t have the need to put our citizen’s lives in danger while providing it. While gun violence hasn’t been completely eliminated, it’s impossible to completely abolish firearms as they have become such an important aspect of our society, however there hasn’t been a mass shooting in the 16 years since the change in gun laws, while in that 16 year period, America has had 8 massacres which ended the lives of almost 120 people. The latest shooting in Australia that shocked the nation was when 2 university students were shot dead on a Monash university campus by a peer in 2002. Compared to America, we are a much safer nation as America has no laws against possession of guns; in fact some states encourage their citizens to have a gun for “self-defence”. Americans believe that the essence of their country is freedom; their second amendment is part of the US bill of rights which protects the right to keep and bear arms. However while trying to protect their citizens, they consequently place them in more danger as statistically speaking, you are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than in Australia and they have continual massacres and shootings which result in the deaths of many people.

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