Ex Aussie PM: We Banned Assault Weapons, So Can US
John Howard discusses how Australia did it, and the results
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2013 1:16 PM CST
Australian Prime Minister John Howard answers a question at a press conference in Sydney, Australia, in this 2006 file photo.   (AP Photo/Paul Miller, File)

(Newser) – In the New York Times today, John Howard details how he, as then-prime minister of Australia, got an assault weapons ban passed after a massacre in which 35 people were killed with semiautomatic weapons. He doesn't want to "lecture" America on the matter, he writes, and acknowledges there are many differences between the two countries' situations. Australia had no Bill of Rights or right to bear arms to contend with, but it had its own challenges, including an "intensely urban society" and a decentralized government. It was difficult, but in the end, "few Australians would deny that their country is safer today as a consequence of gun control."

Howard convinced the states to prohibit the possession or sale of all automatic and semiautomatic weapons, and the national government banned such weapons from being brought into the country. A big part of the process was a gun buyback that resulted in 700,000 guns being destroyed—"the equivalent of 40 million guns in the United States," he writes. Many resented being forced to give up their weapons, and "penalizing decent, law-abiding citizens because of the criminal behavior of others seemed unfair." But there was no other choice, because while mental health and violent entertainment may also play a role, "nothing trumps easy access to a gun" when it comes to violence. The gun control changes ended up lowering not just the homicide rate, but the suicide rate, too. Click for Howard's full piece.

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Jan 18, 2013 9:55 AM CST
1. Interesting that in earlier years in America there were plenty of shotguns and rifles and plenty of criminals shot dead with no need for 37 mm. cannons/m-16's/ 30 round clips.....'if I can't have a LAW my 2nd amendment rights are violated!' 2. you can't even have a discussion w/o righteous 100% anger and condemnation from you teabaggers even though I am a veteran and a hunter and NRA 100% on LOTS of issues.....down the tubes I go.... 3. you have no idea what is going on in China...been here 4 months and know a lot but I sure most of y'all would not accept facts since you kow better, eh? 4. The SADDEST thing I have ever seen was the photos of those poor kids..if you guys who want to pack heat everywhere could/would/did stop even one of these...I would look at it differently... 5.please don't tell me to leave the country.....already been there and done that....till America remembers what made it GREAT which is not what I see often nowadays...well...nothing more to say because it is just grist for the mill to get blasted 6. Before you think that the Aussies are such morons and cowards, you ought to review some of the most savage fighting of WW2 was done by them and the US Marines..... 7. we ought to be ashamed of some of the recent stuff that has happened and quit trying to 'blame OBAMA' or whatever...the stakes are too high and too soon...you will see....
Jan 18, 2013 8:50 AM CST
awwww what a sweet guy! he should just shut up and keep out of this! he has had his 15min and they stunk!
Jan 18, 2013 7:24 AM CST
We aren't Aussies. The entire concept of the USA that made us totally different then the rest of the world is the fact that we are a republic, that the government is answerable to us, not the other way around. Sadly, we have too many people who come from other countries who have no concept of the origins of this country, and we have too many liberal bleeding hearts who think we have a defective country that needs to be fixed, and needs to apologize to the rest of the world for its sins. The quesiton I have for the Aussies is this. Did your taking the guns away from the pubulic stop large scale killings? It hasn't in China which has a no gun policy. If people in this country are so infatuated with other countries, then MOVE THERE! With freedom comes risk of people abusing the risk. Unfortunately, there are some who believe we need to give up some freedom little by litle in hopes of protecting the wellbeing of the larger good, and in the end, we lose it all. Liberals and their idealogy are evil, but unfortunately we won't realize it until its too late, and those who know liberty will be dead and the ones who will be living under the new idealogy won't ahve any idea of what they lost.