Fatal Firearm Incidents Before and After Australia’s 1996 National Firearms Agreement Banning Semiautomatic Rifles

Category: Firearm Policies, International, Mass Shootings|Journal: Annals of Internal Medicine (full text)|Author: M Jones, M Stewart, P Alpers, S Chapman|Posted On: January 01,2018

In 1996, after the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, the National Firearms Agreement was enacted across Australia. Provisions included uniform gun registration, repudiation of self-defense as a legitimate reason to hold a firearm licence, locked storage, a ban on private gun sales and civilian ownership of semiautomatic rifles and pump-action shotguns, and standardized penalties. Two buyback programs and 26 uncompensated amnesties between 1996 and 2015 resulted in the surrender of 1 038 089 illicit firearms.
An analysis of firearm deaths between 1979 and 2013 showed that 13 mass shootings (homicides in which at least 5 persons died, not including the perpetrator) took place in the 18 years preceding and including the Port Arthur massacre; none has occurred in the 22 years since. Many believe that these data indicate that gun law reforms effectively stopped firearm massacres. However, others contend that this interpretation is unwise because of the rarity of these events compared with more common incidents in which fewer than 5 persons died.