Fifteen things to know about Australia’s incredibly effective gun clampdown


  1. It came out of tragedy. In April 1996, a disturbed 28-year-old man named Martin Bryant killed 35 people with a semi-automatic rifle in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur.
  2. It moved public opinion. In the wake of the shooting, “a national upwelling of grief and revulsion saw pollsters reporting 90–95% public approval for stringent new gun laws.”
  3. A conservative politician took the lead. Australia’s conservative Prime Minister John Howard spearheaded a push by Australian states and territories to severely restrict gun ownership that year, in what came to be known as the National Firearms Agreement.
  4. It targeted the kinds of guns used in massacres. “As the Port Arthur gunman and several other mass killers had used semi-automatic weapons, the new gun laws banned rapid-fire long guns, specifically to reduce their availability for mass shootings.”
  5. It encouraged people to turn in guns. The government “bought back more than 650,000 of…

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