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  1. #1
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    Australia reloads as gun amnesties fail to cut arms

    Australia reloads as gun amnesties fail to cut arms
    Nick Ralston
    January 14, 2013

    Gun ownership in Australia is still high, according to University of Sydney research.
    Photo: Dominic O'Brien

    Australians own as many guns now as they did at the time of the Port Arthur massacre, despite more than 1 million firearms being handed in and destroyed, new research reveals.

    A University of Sydney study has shown there has been a steady increase in guns imported into the country over the past decade, with the number of privately owned guns now at the same level as 1996.

    Estimates suggest there were 3.2 million firearms in Australia at the time of the Tasmanian tragedy, in which 35 people were killed and 23 injured.
    Philip Alpers, an adjunct associate professor at the university's school of public health, said only time would tell what impact the restocking would have.

    ''Australia's public health effort to reduce the risk of gun violence led the world,'' he said. ''After melting down a million guns, the risk of an Australian dying by gunshot fell by more than half. Plus, we've seen no mass shootings in 16 years,'' Professor Alpers said.

    He said that because of law changes, the new guns were not military-style semi-automatics, which were banned and surrendered after Port Arthur, and that handguns were now harder to import into Australia. But he said: ''It only takes one bullet, and the great majority of gun deaths are domestics and suicides.''

    Professor Alpers was due to present the new research in Baltimore at the Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America, organised by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The summit is looking closely at the Australian experience and will hand its recommendations to US Vice-President Joe Biden's gun control taskforce, which is due to report this month following the Sandy Hook school massacre.

    Professor Alpers said since eight people were killed in Melbourne's Queen Street massacre in 1987, Australia had run 38 gun amnesties for a combined total of more than 3000 weeks.

    This included the 1996-97 national firearms buy-back and the 2003 handgun buy-back, which resulted in 728,667 newly prohibited guns being handed back in return for compensation.

    The research suggests that when gun owners who have surrendered their weapons voluntarily and without compensation are included in the figures, more than 1 million guns have been destroyed in Australia since 1988. That is one-third of the nation's private arsenal, according to the research.

    While there was an initial spike when owners of now-banned multishot rifles and shotguns replaced their weapons with single-fire guns in the four years after Port Arthur, gun imports fell and remained stagnant. The lowest number of imports in a financial year - just under 18,000 - was recorded in 1998-99.

    The research shows that the trade has now recovered, with a steady increase in the 10 years since, peaking at 66,461 guns imported into Australia in 2009/10, the highest number in 13 years. Overall, 1,055,082 firearms have been imported into Australia since gun destruction programs began in 1988 at an average of 43,961 guns a year.

    This figure does not take into account firearms that are smuggled into Australia illegally.

    However, Professor Alpers said there was little evidence to suggest illegal imports were an issue in Australia and that the main problem was criminals getting their hands on legal guns that have been stolen or lost by lawful owners.

    smh.com.au

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    'US Can Learn From Australia's Gun Laws'

    30 Dec 2012

    Former Oz PM John Howard who introduced tough laws after 35 people were shot dead says now is the time for America to act.When Martin Bryant massacred 35 people with semi-automatic weapons at a tourist spot in Tasmania in 1996, then-Australian prime minister John Howard reacted swiftly by pushing for tough new national gun laws.

    Just 12 days after the shootings at Port Arthur, legislation was agreed which banned most people from owning rapid fire rifles and shotguns.

    In a government buyback scheme more than 600,000 weapons were handed in and destroyed.

    There have been no mass killings since.

    Neil Noye was the local Mayor at the time. Speaking to Channel 9 about the recent US killings he said: "It's devastating and my thoughts and prayers go out to those families because I know exactly what they are going through.

    "John Howard brought the gun laws in. Some people hated him and some people loved him, but I think that was a good thing."

    Now US President Barack Obama is facing the same dilemma after the Newtown school massacre in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults. While the gun lobby is far more powerful in the US and gun ownership culturally embedded through the constitution, the conservative Mr Howard says now is the time to tackle the politically sensitive issue.

    "It will be difficult but it can be done," Mr Howard, who had only been in the job two months when the Port Arthur killings happened, told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

    Speaking earlier this year after another US gun massacre, Mr Howard noted: "If I hadn't done something I would have been squandering the moral authority I had as a newly-elected prime minister."

    Australian MP Andrew Leigh has studied and written about the effects of the legislation.

    "One in three American households has a gun, and that has terrible consequences when a teenager gets depressed or a family dispute gets out of control," he said.

    "There are Australians who wouldn't be walking the streets if it wasn't for the gun buyback. It saved about 200 lives a year it continues to make Australia a safer place today." The politician believes America can learn a great deal from the Australian experience and says the US "can recognise that you can have both - you can have that culture of sport shooting that Americans prize so dearly but without the tragic gun violence that plagues so many American lives every year".

    In 2009 in Australia there were 0.1 gun murders per 100,000 people compared to 3.2 per 100,000 in the US, according to the most recent data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

    Philip Alpers, an analyst on gun violence at the University of Sydney who worked on weapons control in the US for four years, admits drawing parallels between Australia and US is difficult.

    "Culturally we are very different. The automatic Australian reaction after Port Arthur was that we need to pull back on gun ownership - fewer guns are better. Howard had a groundswell of public support on his side," he said.

    "In the US, reaction over the past few years has increasingly been, more guns make us safer. Guns are confused with freedom and opinion is so polarised that it might be impossible for Obama to do anything."

    Not everyone in Australia has been convinced by the legislation. Colourful independent MP in rural Queensland, Bob Katter, said: "You can ban all the guns in the world but those sort of people find some other way of doing it.

    "You create a morbid fascination when you ban them and I think that has a lot to do with some of these terrible incidents that are occurring."

    The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, which lobbied against the Howard laws, says gun death rates were falling anyway.

    It points to an independent report by the Melbourne Institute in 2008 which contradicts claims that fewer guns mean fewer homicides and suicides.

    "There is little evidence to suggest that it had any significant effects on firearm homicides and suicides," the Melbourne study concluded, referring to the National Firearms Agreement.

    Australia still has gun crime of course, especially amongst Sydney's biker gangs, but since Port Arthur no Australian shooting has made global headlines.

    Unlike in America guns aren't entwined in Australia's culture, but changing gun laws was still a brave move, as politicians in Washington know all too well.

    youtube.com

  3. #3
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    The only difference between us and yanks is we don't have to shoot everyone we disagree with.

  4. #4
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    far from the only , however definitely one of

  5. #5
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    ^ Sorry mate your correct there our brains,dicks & personalities are bigger & better

    That should get em going

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobo746 View Post
    The only difference between us and yanks is we don't have to shoot everyone we disagree with.
    Yet, there is a kindred cultural spirit that is scary [and dangerous].

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