Australia’s prime minister says the country’s tough gun control laws – enacted after a devastating mass shooting in the 1990s – have led to far fewer tragedies compared to America’s continuing wave of gun violence .
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made the comments in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday when asked what it was like to see the US epidemic of gun violence through an outside lens. President Joe Biden and the nation’s lawmakers have struggled to stem the tide of mass shootings after recent attacks, including the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and the racially motivated shooting that left 10 dead in a Buffalo supermarket.
“Each of these tragedies is heartbreaking, and each of these tragedies continues to reinforce Australia’s privileged position as a foreigner to have these strict gun controls,” Albanese said.
(The United States signed a new gun bill into law in June, but it fell far short of sweeping gun control proposals put forward by some Democrats.)
Australia has seen just three mass shootings since a massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996. In that event, a gunman killed 35 people and injured 28 others with a semi-automatic weapon which he had purchased from an advertisement in the newspaper. Twenty of those people were killed in just one minute and 15 seconds.
The country responded with dramatic, bipartisan gun reform, introducing a gun buy-back program that saw 700,000 guns removed from the community and destroyed. New laws have placed severe limits on legal gun ownership, and the country now has a permanent gun amnesty program for unregistered guns.
“I knew I had to use the authority of my office to limit the possession and use of the kind of weapons that killed 35 innocent people,” then-Prime Minister John Howard said of Australia. of the decision in a 2013 op-ed for The New York Times. “I also knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Gun crime has declined steadily since the Port Arthur shootings, and gun crime remains relatively rare in Australia.
By comparison, America has seen 385 mass shootings so far in 2022, according to Gun Violence Archive.
Albanese went on to say that for Australians fewer guns has led to a dramatic drop in gun crime and an increase in public safety.
“I would just say people should look at our experience,” the prime minister said. “It’s up to the United States as a sovereign nation to decide which direction to take, of course. But the truth is that Australia’s experience shows that fewer guns, especially fewer automatic weapons, means less crime and less tragedy.