A gun-owner and lifetime member of the NRA and I are trying to engage in rational dialogue about policies that might reduce gun violence in America.
He says background checks and waiting periods haven’t resulted in any changes in homicide rates in states where they have been enacted. I reply that such regulations could indeed have prevented deaths without necessarily showing a change in homicide rates.
“I wonder how many Americans are migrating to Australia compared to the Aussies who are migrating to the US?” he asks. Then, in typical display of American ethnocentrism and ignorance about the world, he asserted that Aussies are not a free and independent country, but still under the thumb of the British.
After a Port Arthur massacre shocked and horrified Australians, in just 12 days the government proposed and passed the National Firearms Agreement and Buyback Program.The new gun laws included a ban on many types of semi-automatic, self-loading rifles and shotguns. Each gun required a separate permit with a 28-day waiting period, and Australia created a national firearms registration system. Guns could only be sold by licensed firearms dealers, and limits were placed on the amount of ammunition that could be sold.Firearm owners had to be 18, complete a safety course, and have a “genuine reason” for owning a gun, such as sport shooting, hunting, or occupational requirements (“personal protection” did not count as a legitimate reason).Licenses expired every five years, and could be revoked if police found “reliable evidence of a mental or physical condition which would render the applicant unsuitable for owning, possessing or using a firearm.”The new laws also included a national gun-buyback program for newly prohibited weapons. The program cost $230 million, which was raised through a small health-insurance tax increase, and ultimately more than 700,000 firearms were purchased by the government or voluntarily handed in. Some firearms weren’t turned in, and in 2012 an estimated 260,000 illegal guns were still in circulation.