An Aussie reader has a valuable perspective on gun control:
I’m a UK and Australian national and I’ve lived most of my life in those countries. Like many non-Americans, I am bemused by the debates over gun control in the U.S. and annoyed when gun rights activities attempt to paint countries with less of a passion for firearms as “less free.”
I am not “anti-gun” per se. I can see how some members of society require firearms for their work (e.g. farmers dealing with animals). Hunting is a slightly different story. The Australian response to the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 means that our country is now a case study in America as either an example of sensible gun legislation or a totalitarian state intent on robbing gun owners of their right to fire at stuff.
However, in the state of New South Wales, an electoral quirk means that the Shooters and Fishers Party (yes, Australia has a political party explicitly devoted to guns—and maybe fishing rods, I suppose, but mostly guns) sometimes holds the balance of power in the state senate—which they often attempt to leverage to turn the state’s national parks into free fire zones. Personally, I think if you want to hunt animals, you should do it with your bare hands rather than cowering behind a telescopic sight like some kind of wuss, but that’s just me. Culling of animal populations is necessary, but I’m uncomfortable entrusting it to amateurs.
The absence of any legal support for concealed carry in Australia means that I know that pretty much everyone I meet day to day is not packing heat nor likely to escalate to a lethal level on the rare occasions our interactions sour.
Following the Port Arthur massacre—one of the deadliest in world history, killing 35—Australia dramatically tightened its gun laws by outlawing automatic and semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns. A compulsory “National Firearms Buyback Scheme” got 600,000 such guns out of private hands and financially compensated their owners with a total of $500 million derived from a tax increase. Uri recently noted the program’s impact: