Guns are a controversial topic in America because people do not want their gun rights taken away, yet thousands of people die each year from gun violence. Although bump stocks, which can be used like machine guns have been banned in the past year, government officials have not drastically changed the country’s laws, which place little regulation on gun ownership. American lawmakers should look to other countries to see how they are able to regulate guns and find compromise. Australia is a perfect example as the country’s gun policy underwent a huge change in 1996, just twelve days after the largest mass shooting in Australian history. In April of 1996, Martin Bryant shot and killed 35 people and injured another 23 people in what is known as the Port Arthur shooting. The government swiftly passed The National Agreement on Firearms, which included a gun buyback provision and made it illegal without a special license to own semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons. If America follows the same policy changes that Australia made in 1996, then the US will likely see a decrease in the rate of gun homicides.
The graph shows the rate of gun homicide over a 28-year period. Looking at homicide rates instead of total numbers provides a more accurate picture of how homicides have changed in Australia because it accounts for population change. The peak rate of 0.57 of homicides happened in 1996 due to the Port Arthur massacre, but then there is a significant drop. After 2004, the rate never exceeded 0.20. In 2016, the rate of gun homicides increased from 2015, which could mean that the rate will continue to increase in the future. However, there is no way to predict the future and the rate returned to the 2012 rate which was followed by a decline. The rapid and sustained reduction in homicide rate from 1996 to 2016
shows the effectiveness of the National Agreement on decreasing gun violence in Australia.
The Australian government was very efficient in changing its gun policy after the Port Arthur massacre, and since then, there have been zero mass shootings*. To prevent any more mass shootings from occurring in the United States, American government officials need to enact a buyback program as well as put in place strict regulations for owning semi-automatic and fully automatic guns. By following the Australian model, the US government can improve the nation’s safety by decreasing the number of gun homicides.