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When I mention this to disbelieving NRA supporters they insist that crime must now be rampant in Australia.In fact, the Australian murder rate has fallen to close one per 100,000 while the US rate, thankfully lower than in the early 1990s, is still roughly at 4.5 per 100,000 – over four times as high.The story of Australia, which had 13 mass shootings in the 18-year period from 1979 to 1996 but none in the succeeding 19 years, is worth examining.The turning point was the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, in which a gunman killed 35 individuals using semiautomatic weapons.

The stricter gun laws of other “advanced countries” have restrained homicidal violence, suicides and gun accidents – even when, in some cases, laws were introduced over massive protests from their armed citizens.And today, support for the safer, gun-restricted Australia is so strong that going back would not be tolerated by the public.That Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since 1996 is likely more than merely the result of the considerable reduction in guns – it’s certainly not the case that guns have disappeared altogether.The NRA stranglehold on appropriate anti-crime measures is only part of the problem, though.The gun culture’s worship of the magical protective capacities of guns and their power to be wielded against perceived enemies – including the federal government – is a message that resonates with troubled individuals from the Santa Barbara killer, who was seeking vengeance on women who had failed to perceive his greatness, to the Charleston killer who echoed the Tea Party mantra of taking back our country.

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The government also imposed a mandatory gun buy back that substantially reduced gun possession in Australia.