There has been tremendous disagreement in healthcare policy as to whether gun laws have any effect. This study looked at Australia which introduced some major gun reforms.
In 1996, Australia’s state and federal governments introduced sweeping uniform gun laws that were progressively implemented in all 6 states and 2 territories between June 1996 and August 1998. The enactment of these laws followed a massacre on April 28, 1996, in which a man used 2 semiautomatic rifles to kill 35 people and wound 19 others. The new gun laws banned rapid-fire long guns (including those already in private ownership), explicitly to reduce their availability for mass shootings.1,2
In addition, by January 1, 1997, all 8 governments commenced a mandatory buyback at market price of prohibited firearms. As of August 2001, 659 940 newly prohibited semiautomatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns had been purchased by the federal government from their civilian owners at market value, funded by a one-off levy on income tax, and destroyed.3,4 From October 1, 1997, large criminal penalties, including imprisonment and heavy fines, applied to possession of any prohibited weapon.
During a second firearm buyback in 2003, 68 727 handguns were collected and destroyed.5,6 Thousands of gun owners also voluntarily surrendered additional, nonprohibited firearms without compensation, and since 1996 thousands more privately owned firearms are known to have been surrendered, seized, and melted down.
Question What happened to the trend in firearm deaths after Australia introduced extensive gun law reform in 1996, including a ban on semiautomatic rifles and pump-action shotguns?
Findings In the 18 years before the ban, there were 13 mass shootings, whereas in the 20 years following the ban, no mass shootings occurred, and the decline in total firearm deaths accelerated.
Meaning Implementation of a ban on rapid-fire firearms was associated with reductions in mass shootings and total firearm deaths.