How Australia’s Gun Control Laws Can Prevent Mass Shootings: Kamala Harris Applauds the Model

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Vice President Kamala Harris Applauds Gun Control Laws in Australia

Vice President Kamala Harris praised Australia’s gun control laws, which prohibit citizens from owning firearms and implemented a mass gun confiscation in the 1990s, during a speech on Thursday.

Harris’s Remarks on Australian Gun Laws

During a luncheon with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the State Department, Harris highlighted that Australian gun laws demonstrate that mass shootings do not have to occur frequently. Her comments came in the wake of a deadly shooting in Lewiston, Maine, where at least 18 people were killed and numerous others injured.

Harris stated, “In our country today, the leading cause of death among American children is gun violence. Gun violence has inflicted terror and trauma on many of our communities in the United States. And let us be clear, it does not have to be this way — as our friends in Australia have demonstrated,” which garnered applause from the audience.

Australian Gun Ownership Laws

According to the Australian Parliament’s official website, there is no legal right to gun ownership in Australia, unlike in the United States. Furthermore, individuals in Australia must provide a genuine reason for owning a firearm, and self-protection is not considered a valid reason under the law.

Firearm Licensing and Registration

Australian law requires individuals to obtain a license before purchasing firearms, and each firearm must be individually registered. In contrast, countries like New Zealand and Canada only require a license to purchase firearms, allowing for more freedom in gun ownership after obtaining the license.

Australia’s Response to Mass Shootings

In response to several highly-publicized mass shootings, Australia implemented strict gun control measures in 1996. The National Firearms Agreement banned automatic and semi-automatic firearms, enforced firearm registration, imposed stricter storage requirements, and heavily restricted the purchase of non-military style semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

The Australian government also initiated a mandatory gun buyback program, resulting in the collection of nearly 700,000 privately-owned firearms.

Impact of Gun Control Measures in Australia

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard wrote in a New York Times op-ed in 2013, “In the end, we won the battle to change gun laws because there was majority support across Australia for banning certain weapons. And today, there is a wide consensus that our 1996 reforms not only reduced the gun-related homicide rate but also the suicide rate.”

The Lewiston Shooting Incident

On Wednesday, Robert Card, a trained firearms instructor with a history of mental health issues, opened fire at a bowling alley and a nearby restaurant in Lewiston, Maine. The suspect, who is still at large, killed over a dozen people. Law enforcement agencies are actively searching for him.

The White House has not yet responded to requests for comment on the incident.

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