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Australia Port Arthur massacre: 25 years on, are gun laws the best they can be?

00:50  28 april  2021
00:50  28 april  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Port Arthur massacre of 28–29 April 1996 was a mass shooting in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded in Port Arthur , Tasmania. The murderer, Martin Bryant, pleaded guilty and was given 35 life sentences without possibility of parole.

The Port Arthur Massacre was a massive false flag operation designed to disarm the Australian On the Sunday morning, some 25 specialist doctors (Royal Australian College of Surgeons) from all over 14. “There will never be uniform Gun Laws in Australia until we see a massacre somewhere in “On 28 April 1996 at Port Arthur in Australia, some of the best combat shooters in the world used a total

a castle on top of a body of water: The Port Arthur massacre in 1996 was the catalyst for gun law reforms, which have been lauded internationally. (ABC News: Maren Preuss) © Provided by ABC NEWS The Port Arthur massacre in 1996 was the catalyst for gun law reforms, which have been lauded internationally. (ABC News: Maren Preuss)

The Port Arthur Massacre changed Tasmania, and the nation, forever.

Thirty-five people were killed on April 28 1996, among them mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers and children.

But from the harrowing loss came sweeping political change.

In just 12 days, the Australian states and territories came together to establish a National Firearms Agreement (NFA), under the pressure of then prime minister John Howard, who had just won the federal election.

"We had an enormous amount of authority as a result," he said.

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Ian Kingston, a survivor of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre , reflects on his experiences at the historic site nearly 20 years after the shootings. The massacre prompted a nationwide overhaul of gun regulation, as well as the buyback of more than 650,000 firearms. Photograph: Rémi Chauvin. Even critics of the conservative leader cite it as one of the best examples of Australian political leadership in recent history. ‘It’s the last place in the world that you would imagine something happening’. Six weeks before the Port Arthur massacre , Tony Rundle was sworn in as the Liberal premier of Tasmania.

Today also marks 25 years since the 1996 Port Arthur massacre . At the time, the incident was considered the world’s worst mass shooting, with 35 people killed and 23 injured at the popular tourist site on the Tasman Peninsula. Among other things that new laws banned rapid-fire guns from civilian ownership, tightened requirements for firearms licensing, registration and safe storage, and established a government buyback of semi-automatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns. More than 650,000 weapons were destroyed, potentially almost halving the number of gun -owning households.

"And it was a terrible disaster; it was the largest single death toll from such an event at the hands of an individual ever... and understandably the public wanted something done," he said.

The NFA restricted ownership of automatic and semi-automatic weapons and made it harder to obtain a gun licence.

It resulted in the destruction of over a million guns.

To this day, the impact of Australia's gun reform is still evident.

In 1997, Australia had 6.52 licensed firearm owners per 100 people, but by last year that proportion had almost halved, to 3.41.

The number of registered guns in the community has risen only slightly, despite the importation of modern firearms and population growth.

"[The public] do see the laws as having made Australians a safer country," Mr Howard said.

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“ Port Arthur is shocking national tragedy, a reminder of how fragile life is , how vulnerable we are , and how precious life is ,” Turnbull told 7HO FM radio in Hobart on Thursday. “It was also a time of great solidarity The National Firearms Agreement was one of John Howard’s greatest achievements, and it kept The National Firearms Agreement, which saw uniform gun laws introduced within six months of the massacre , is under review. Gun control advocates say the integrity of the legislation has been threatened by the importation of firearms like the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun, which meets the

The Howard government’s deliberations over tightening gun laws are revealed in the 1996 cabinet papers. Photograph: Leigh Winburn/AP. A memorial service on the first anniversary of the massacre of 35 people at Port Arthur . A cabinet meeting on 6 May agreed to the complete prohibition of automatic and semi-automatic firearms; the establishment of a comprehensive national firearm registration system; an amnesty period during which prohibited and unregistered weapons could be surrendered; and the creation of a compensation fund through a levy on income tax to purchase

"They are seen around the world as having been a very strong, effective, adequate response to what was a terrible tragedy, and I think that's something Australians can derive a great deal of pride in."

Are gun controls being rolled back?

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Hobart lawyer and vice-president of Gun Control Australia Roland Browne led the push for gun control back in the 1990s.

He said "the essence" of the NFA was still intact, but some of the states had rolled back controls.

He cited the fact that silencers are now permitted in New South Wales, and that the 28-day cooling-off period for gun purchases had been relaxed in some states.

"It's mindless — gun laws are there to protect the safety of Australian citizens. People want to live in a society where guns are not normalised," he said.

"I regret that for the foreseeable future, Australians are going to have to fight ... to keep our gun laws intact," he said.

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image captionMany Port Arthur victims died in a cafe which is now part of the site's memorial. The event appalled and galvanised the nation, helping to push Australia to enact some of the most comprehensive firearm laws in the world. Former US President Barack Obama often pointed to Australia as an "When Australia had a mass killing - I think it was in Tasmania - about 25 years ago, it was just so shocking the entire country said: ' Well , we ' re going to completely change our gun laws '. And they did, and it hasn't happened since," he said in 2015. So what exactly did Australia do, how did

With a new lawyer chosen by the authorities Bryant was eventually placed before a second hearing. Fresh from solitary confinement, in November 1996, he giggled like a child telling lies as he pleaded “guilty” 72 times thus allowing the authorities to avoid a humiliating trial at which they could present To this day no one has identified the Port Arthur shooter To this day a motive has not been established other than John Howard’s Guns Laws . and the authorities have ignored reams of proof that Bryant was nowhere near the Port Arthur tourist attraction on the day but had, instead, been lured, by persons

John Howard said the public wouldn't be silent if the states and territories began making more drastic changes.

"I think the public is very aware that this is something that Australia has done well and they don't want it disturbed," Mr Howard said.

"The governments that have followed mine have kept the faith, as far as these laws are concerned, and it's important that that continue," he said.

More needs to happen: Browne

Mr Browne said not only did current gun laws need to be maintained, but they also needed to be tightened.

"One of the big issues for my organisation is the availability of semi-automatic handguns that can have magazines of up to 10 bullets," Mr Browne said.

"These are military weapons — they're used for target shooting but they're military weapons, and we've seen them misused in Australia in recent years," he said.

He was also critical of the lack of a National Firearms Register, which the states and territories agreed to establish in 1996.

"There's no reason that the Commonwealth can't utilise its various powers over corporations to introduce a national register like that. It has the power to do it and it also has the power to push the states a whole lot harder than it has," he said.

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Mr Browne also wants tighter storage requirements for gun owners, including alarms on storage, to prevent theft.

The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia said it was open to supporting amendments to any laws designed to keep the public safe, but the public benefit needed to be clear before change was implemented.

"Perhaps to reduce any issues around public safety and firearms in Australia we need to look at where the actual source of firearms used in crime come from," media officer Rachael Oxborrow said.

She denied gun laws had been watered down.

"This was a firearms agreement that was made 25 years ago … and I think it's about adapting to make sure we realise things change," she said.

Federal MP supports national register

Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Jason Wood said he was "personally supportive" of a national firearms registry.

But, he added, "it is a state and territory responsibility and we obviously need their support."

"When it comes to these reforms I can tell you now, the Prime Minister, or whether it be Karen Andrews (Minister for Home Affairs), all of us are very keen to see a national firearms register," Mr Wood said.

He said on a personal level, claims that some states had relaxed certain controls concerned him and that when it came to semi-automatic handguns he'd be open to more control if that were necessary.

"If the department and law enforcement came to me and said they had concerns about importation I'd definitely have a look at that," he said.

The 25th anniversary of the massacre will be marked with a small commemoration at the historic site.

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