Australian gun law reforms completely prevented mass shootings and reduced firearm deaths, study finds

Between 1979 and 1996 there were 13 fatal mass shootings – since then, there have been none

Peter Yeung
Thursday 23 June 2016 21:28 BST
Researchers analysed data on intentional suicide and deaths caused by guns
Researchers analysed data on intentional suicide and deaths caused by guns (Joe Raedle/Getty)

Stricter gun laws in Australia have prevented mass shootings and led to significant reductions in the rates of gun-related murder and suicide, a study has found.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and Macquarie University, analysing data on intentional suicide and deaths caused by guns from the National Injury Surveillance Unit and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, found that since the reforms were introduced in 1996, total gun-related deaths have declined 5 per cent annually.

The findings, published in the influential Journal of the American Medical Association, also noted that between 1979 and 1996 there were 13 fatal mass shootings, in which 104 victims were killed and at least another 52 were wounded – since then, there have been no fatal mass shootings.

Researchers concluded there was no evidence of murderers moving to other methods.

Rapid-fire guns were banned in Australia - including those already in private ownership - in 1996, and the following year a mandatory government buyback of prohibited guns was enforced.

The reforms were introduced just months after a mass shooting known as the Port Arthur massacre, when Martin Bryant used two semi-automatic rifles to kill 35 people and wound 23 others in Port Arthur, Tasmania.

The authors said: “We are unaware of any other nation that has enacted such a substantial change in gun laws as has been implemented in Australia.

“Comparative studies of Australia's experience with broadly comparable nations would provide further evidence of the effects of such law reform.”

An accompanying editorial to the study by a researcher at Johns Hopkins University said it was highly unlikely the United States would adopt such laws, which are more restrictive than those in any American locality.

Earlier this week, the US Senate voted against four proposed gun-control measures introduced in the wake of the recent Orlando massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

Proposals included requiring background checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows.

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