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35 killed in Australia’s Port Arthur Massacre mass shooting

35 killed in Australia’s Port Arthur Massacre mass shooting

On April 28, 1996, 28-year-old Martin Bryant begins a killing spree that ends in the deaths of 35 men, women and children in the quiet town of Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia.

Bryant began the day by killing an elderly couple who were the owners of Port Arthur’s Seascape guesthouse. Some theorize that the killings were Bryant’s retaliation for the owners refusing to sell his father the guesthouse. Bryant’s father later died by suicide, an action Bryant is said to have blamed on his depression over not being able to buy the property.

After having lunch on the deck of the Broad Arrow Cafe, located at the site of the historic Port Arthur prison colony, a tourist destination, Bryant entered the restaurant, removed a Colt AR-15 rifle from his bag, and began shooting. After killing 22 people in rapid succession, Bryant left the restaurant for the parking lot, where he continued his shooting spree, killing the drivers of two tour buses, some of their passengers and a mother and her two small children, among others.

On his way out of the parking lot, he shot four people in a BMW and drove the car to a nearby gas station, where he shot one woman and took a man hostage, before driving back to the Seascape guesthouse. After an 18-hour stand-off with police, Bryant set the guesthouse on fire, ran outside and was captured. He had apparently killed the hostage sometime earlier.

Bryant initially pled not-guilty to the 35 murders, but changed his plea and was sentenced to life in prison, never to be released, Australia’s maximum sentence. The Broad Arrow Cafe and its environs were turned into a place for reflection and a memorial.

People across Australia and the world were horrified by Bryant’s actions. In the hopes of preventing similar crimes, gun-control laws in many areas of Australia were significantly strengthened in the aftermath of the tragedy.


From the Archives, 1996: The Port Arthur massacre

Police are still to formally confirm whether an elderly couple and a possible third victim died while being held hostage by the gunman at a local guesthouse. Their deaths would bring the Port Arthur massacre death toll to 35.

The couple, Sally and David Martin, had been taken hostage at the guesthouse by the gunman late yesterday after he embarked on a shooting rampage at the nearby Port Arthur historic site, killing at least 32 people and injuring 19 others. A third person is believed to have been kidnapped by the gunman.

Police captured the gunman, a 29-year-old man from the Hobart suburb of Newtown, after fire engulfed the guesthouse where he had kept police at bay last night.

There was no indication whether the hostages were shot or died in the raging fire that was lit at about 8 am and destroyed the Seascape guesthouse.

The stand-off ended just after 8.30am when the gunman staggered out of the blazing house tearing off his burning clothes. He was arrested by members of the Tasmanian and Victorian special operations groups, which had surrounded the house overnight.

Flowers placed outside the Broad Arrow Cafe in Port Arthur where the rampage began.

Police say the house has been burned to the ground and explosions prevented firemen from extinguishing the flames immediately and checking the site.

The gunman was taken by ambulance to the Royal Hobart Hospital suffering burns. He is expected to appear in court later today but it might be a bedside hearing.

The hospital’s chief executive officer, Mr Ian Pynes, said all patients at the hospital had been informed that the gunman was being treated there. He said security had been stepped up and the gunman’s ward was being guarded by police officers.

Mr Pynes said the gunman was likely to remain at the hospital for three days.

The hospital denied rumors that the gunman was a psychiatric patient on weekend leave, saying he had not been a patient at the hospital for several years.

Tasmanian police said they had no clues about the gunman’s motives. The deputy commissioner for Tasmanian police, Richard McCreadie, said it was not the role of the police to speculate.

“The chain of events seemed to have its origins in a restaurant where quite a number of people suffered gunshot wounds and subsequent death . . . It seems whoever was responible drove the car to the southern side of the boom gate and that is where another three people met their fate,” he said.

The gunman first entered a local restaurant where 20 people were shot dead. It is not clear whether anyone left the restaurant alive.

Mourners pay their respects at a memorial site for the 35 victims. Credit: Bruce Miller

The gunman then left the restaurant and began shooting at a tourist bus nearby where another three people died.

He then got into his car and went to a toll booth. It was here that the mother and her children were shot.

The gunman then proceeded through the toll gate, got out of his car and commandeered another vehicle, shooting dead the four occupants.

He then proceeded to a service station where he shot a woman standing on the driveway.

It was at the service station that the gunman is believed to have taken a man hostage and bundled him into the boot of the car he was driving. He then drove to the guesthouse from where he held police at bay.

The elderly owners of the guesthouse, believed to be a married couple in their late 60s, were also taken hostage.

Police said the couple were close friends of the gunman’s father.

Eighteen shots were fired during the night and police said they had no evidence that the hostages were still alive.

Police did not return fire.

It is believed that the gunman has a financial interest in a property near the site.

Little is know about the man, except that his father died three years ago in a possible suicide.

Police have spoken to his mother, an uncle and a girlfriend, but none of them had spoken to the gunman.

The gunman does not have a police record, nor does he have a gun licence or a history of gun ownership.

Weapons used in the massacre were heavy-calibre army type rifles including an AR-15, already recovered from the gunman’s car, and an SKS assault rifle that police believe was already at the guesthouse.

The coroner has taken charge of the scene at Port Arthur with most of the bodies still where they fell.

Mr McCreadie said that since midnight police had not been able to get through to the gunman because the telephone at the cottage was continually engaged.

He would not speculate on why it would be engaged, but would not rule out the suggestion that a media organisation was occupying the line.

Prior to the communication breakdown the gunman would not confirm to police that the hostages were still alive, but indicated that they were.

Mr McCreadie said the incident was “absolutely tragic” and that there was a “monumental problem” in terms of managing the site and removing the bodies.

He said he could not be confident police had found all the victims.

Witnesses to the massacre told police the gunman had driven to the site in a Volkswagen with a surfboard on top he had carried a tennis bag into the small restaurant at the site.

He had been chatting to people “quite lucidly” before pulling the automatic rifle from the bag and shooting people indiscriminately, including children, staff, locals and tourists.

He left the site, shooting as he went, “shooting everybody he could see,” said Wendy Scurr, who was working at the front desk of the historic site.


A courageous Australian passes —vale Wendy Scurr

Today Australians have lost a brave, patriotic lady, Mrs Wendy Scurr. We repost Mal’s article from The Great Australians: Wendy Scurr in 2016.

by Malcolm R Hughes(4 December, 2016)

This great Australian, Wendy Scurr, became an unplanned heroine during and after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996. For those who have not previously seen the purposely lost word “heroine,” the meaning is female hero.

Wendy is happily married to Graeme Scurr and they reside on the mainland of Australia. Why the mainland? Because they were driven out of their home state of Tasmania. Why driven out ? For doing the right thing. You know how it goes these days – but Wendy was ahead of her time, having stuck up for the truth about Port Arthur 20 years ago.

The Port Arthur Massacre was a Federal and Tasmanian government-planned event whereby several people were to be shot dead, at the Port Arthur Historic Site on the island state of Tasmania in Australia.

The reasoning behind this plan (I think) was that the population would then accept the Commonwealth Government’s implementation of the United Nations wish to disarm this part of the World’s public. (See Terry Shulze’s 3-part article here.)

Unfortunately, to fulfill this plan, a dupe was required. Martin Bryant, an intellectually handicapped man, was framed as the gunman and has, until now been imprisoned for 20 years. The killing of 35 people took place on April 28, 1996.

It is now widely accepted that Bryant did not shoot anyone, and could not have been the gunman.

The most evil part of the situation is that many politicians, public servants, lawyers and investigative bodies, have had the proof of this thrust in their faces but will not do anything to rectify the situation.

Wendy Scurr, a survivor of that April 28, 1996 massacre, had been an ambulance driver for several years and a first-aid instructor. Very selfless occupations.

Wendy was a tour guide for the Port Arthur Historic Site until after the massacre, when, owing to events that took place that day, she like others were overtaken by post trauma stress disorder or P.T.S.D.

During the killings, Wendy was nearly hit by a bullet fired from the cafe as she went to investigate the noise coming from within. She had heard the whiz of the bullet right past her but did not realise what it was. Upon visiting the scene two days later, husband Graeme pointed out the hole in the window that indicated what a near miss she had had.

After the tremendous amount of shooting in the historic site’s café, it was Wendy who phoned the police to report the noise – this was at 1.32pm on that infamous Sunday. She had to hold the telephone outside of the office so the person on the receiving end of the call would believe that shots were being fired.

Once the killer had left the Broad Arrow Café (remember: it’s not Martin Bryant as we were brainwashed to believe), Wendy then entered to check on and help the victims. Although she did not see it – no mirror there — she became covered with blood and human tissue. The worst anxiety for all the survivors was not knowing if the gunman was going to return.

She, along with the remaining hundreds of people had to continue in a stressful state as police did not arrive in sufficient numbers until six hours after the first report of the shootings to police headquarters. That deliberate delay was, of course, planned, and is unforgivable.

Months after, Wendy had to cope with a letter she received from the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions of Tasmania, Damian Bugg) telling her that she would not be required in court to give evidence. That was despite her having been one of the main witnesses to the Port Arthur massacre!

Wendy soon realised the event had been a Federal and State conspiracy. Thus she travelled the east coast of Australia lecturing on her experiences and that of co-workers on the day of the massacre.

By this time, private investigating citizens had unearthed many troubling events of that day and these were spoken about by these investigators at Wendy’s talks. One who shared the podium with her was retired Victorian cop Andrew MacGregor.

Wendy’s contact with a later generation of Aussies has manly been by Youtube. One of her Youtube videos has had 166,000 hits. She is a very loved and admired figure – and a modest one.

Wendy wanted the public to know what really happened on Sunday 28th April, 1996 and to force the release from custody of the entirely innocent man, Martin Bryant.

For this, she was terrorised in her home by the Tasmanian Police to such an extent that the Scurrs were forced to sell up their property and move. She still has health and mental problems related to that pre-planned event.

When “the people” take no notice of what good people like Wendy Scurr tell us, and allow evil employees in Government to get away with their perverted schemes such as the Port Arthur massacre, more of the same will follow. Next time, and there will be many other next times, unless the vile evil-doers are stopped, you and your family members may be the victims either directly or as collateral damage.

I see Wendy as a very courageous woman who deserved a better fate than that dished up by Australian society. It takes an exceptionally brave person to take a stand against the Government and its agents, knowing that at any time, they may arrest you on false charges, to have you thrown in jail.

I consider Wendy Scurr a truly great Australian and am hoping that the Australian public will give Wendy the recognition that she so justly deserves, at some time in the near future.


On This Day in History: 35 killed in Australia’s Port Arthur Massacre mass shooting

On April 28, 1996, 28-year-old Martin Bryant begins a killing spree that ends in the deaths of 35 men, women and children in the quiet town of Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia.

Bryant, who is believed to have an extremely low IQ and may be mentally handicapped, began the day by killing an elderly couple who were the owners of Port Arthur’s Seascape guesthouse. Some theorize that the killings were Bryant’s retaliation for the owners refusing to sell his father the guesthouse. Bryant’s father later died by suicide, an action Bryant is said to have blamed on his depression over not being able to buy the property.

After having lunch on the deck of the Broad Arrow Cafe, located at the site of the historic Port Arthur prison colony, a tourist destination, Bryant entered the restaurant, removed a Colt AR-15 rifle from his bag, and began shooting. After killing 22 people in rapid succession, Bryant left the restaurant for the parking lot, where he continued his shooting spree, killing the drivers of two tour buses, some of their passengers and a mother and her two small children, among others.

On his way out of the parking lot, he shot four people in a BMW and drove the car to a nearby gas station, where he shot one woman and took a man hostage, before driving back to the Seascape guesthouse. After an 18-hour stand-off with police, Bryant set the guesthouse on fire, ran outside and was captured. He had apparently killed the hostage sometime earlier.

Bryant initially pled not-guilty to the 35 murders, but changed his plea and was sentenced to life in prison, never to be released, Australia’s maximum sentence. The Broad Arrow Cafe and its environs were turned into a place for reflection and a memorial.

People across Australia and the world were horrified by Bryant’s actions. In the hopes of preventing similar crimes, gun-control laws in many areas of Australia were significantly strengthened in the aftermath of the tragedy.


Another Mass Shooting: Not in the USA! (Port Arthur Massacre)

On April 28, 1996, a 28 year old that had inherited over half a million dollars went on a shooting rampage in Tasmania, killing 35 innocent people and earning 35 life in prison sentences when he was later convicted of the crimes. Not surprisingly, the shooter was later found to have intellectual and/or mental/emotional problems.

Digging Deeper

Martin Bryant had inherited the money at the age of 25 in 1992, using it to go on trips all over the world, without establishing a career of any note. Along the way, he also purchased an AR-10 type rifle, a civilian version of the ubiquitous AR-15 type of semi-automatic rifle but chambered in .308 caliber (7.62mm NATO) instead of the 5.56mm standard on the AR-15. Martin had grown up with certain tendencies that caused him to not fit in with society, and even his own mother found him annoying and “troubling.” A psychiatrist said of the boy, “He would never hold down a job, as he would aggravate people to such an extent that he would always be in trouble.” Disruptive in school and a poor student, Martin was also the target for local bullies. In 1983 when Martin left school, another psychiatrist found him to be functionally illiterate and possibly schizophrenic. Martin thus qualified for an intellectual disability pension, similar to American Social Security Disability. Later, after his arrest for the murder spree, authorities that examined him psychologically found him to suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome and “Though Mr. Bryant was clearly a distressed and disturbed young man, he was not mentally ill.”

In 1987 Martin had met a 54 year old woman and became friends, often helping the lady take care of her many dogs and cats. Martin moved in with Helen Mary Elizabeth Harvey in 1991 when she was forced to move because of the great number of her pets. The odd couple spent many thousands of dollars on luxuries such as many automobiles. An updated psychiatric assessment during this time indicated Martin had violent tendencies. Helen had come into money via a lottery jackpot and left her fortune to Martin when she died in a car wreck in 1992. Martin was a passenger in the car driven by Helen in the fatal wreck, and he also suffered significant injuries, remaining hospitalized for 7 months. After Martin spent a lot of his inheritance traveling and being idle, Martin had become increasingly depressed and started drinking alcohol in the couple years leading up to his rampage and began expressing suicidal thoughts. In 1993, Martin’s father, suffering from depression, committed suicide. Martin inherited another $250,000 upon his father’s death. He then sold the family farm for another $143,000.

Frustrated in a real estate deal that fell through, the purchase of a bed and breakfast Martin had his eye on, Martin hit on the idea of becoming “notorious” through a grand act of murder. Although Australia had enacted strict new gun control measures in 1995, Tasmania had refused to go along with the Australian restrictions on semi-automatic arms. In fact, only handguns needed to be registered in Tasmania. Shortly before the massacre Martin had taken his AR-10 to a gun shop for repair, while looking into the purchase of AR-15 type rifles. Apparently, no mechanism was in place in Tasmania to see to it that a person adjudicated mentally incompetent (enough to be on disability) did not have access to firearms.

On April 28, 1996, Martin’s current girl friend left their residence to visit her family, and Martin set off on his murderous rampage. First stop was the bed and breakfast he had sought, where he shot up the place and tied up and stabbed the owners, killing the couple. A couple of travelers came by the B&B while Martin was still there after the murders and inquired about a room. Martin made excuses and the couple left, unharmed, not knowing how close they had come to mortal danger!

Martin went to Port Arthur where he got a meal at a café, before pulling out an AR-15 carbine in 5.56mm caliber. The massacre that had begun at the Seascape B&B was now in full throttle, as Martin began shooting people all around him. Only after several people had been shot and killed did the rest of the crowd seem to grasp the situation and began diving under tables or running away. Martin fired 17 times, killing 12 people and injuring 10 more. Martin moved to the gift shop and continued his shooting spree, killing another 8 people and wounding another 2, while firing only an additional 12 shots.

As the crowd and the gunman both went outside, Martin continued his fusillade against the unarmed people, shooting up the parking area including tourist buses. Martin had killed another 6 victims and wounded 6 more.

Martin, apparently deranged and exulting in his murderous glory, got into his car and left, waving at the stunned people and honking his horn! Approaching a nearby toll booth, Martin saw people fleeing and took them under fire. He exited his car and began executing defenseless people, many of whom had pleaded for their lives or the lives of loved ones. Some were shot point blank with the muzzle of the rifle against their head. Before Martin left the toll booth area, he had shot another 8 people, killing 7 of them.

One wounded victim drove his car to a nearby gas station to spread the alarm, and Martin pulled into the station himself and started shooting again. A young woman became the 34 th person killed. While still at the gas station Martin took a hostage, handcuffed the man and put him in the trunk (boot) of the BMW Martin was driving. Martin then left the gas station and continued to shoot at cars on the road as he drove back to the B&B where the murder spree had started.

The next morning police showed up at the B&B, and a stand off ensued. Martin had already killed the hostage (fatality #35) and had set the place on fire. When the fire became too intense for Martin to remain inside, he finally ran out with his clothes on fire and was taken into custody. Police recovered the 2 AR style rifles in the burnt wreckage of the B&B, both guns heavily damaged.

Sentenced to 35 life sentences, Martin will probably remain in jail the rest of his life. Australia passed even stricter gun laws in response to the Port Arthur Massacre, outlawing semi-automatic rifles and shotguns entirely, and for good measure pump-action shotguns as well. Strict licensing requirements were placed for ownership of firearms. Investigators analyzing the killing spree of Martin Bryant believe he may have been inspired by the Dunblane Massacre in Scotland only a few weeks prior to the Tasmanian event.

As we have reported several times already, mass shootings do NOT only happen in the United States, nor do other forms of mass murder. As with so many of these tragedies, warning signs that the perpetrator may represent a threat to society and should be disarmed were not noted or followed up. Would “Red Flag” mental/emotional alert laws have prevented the Port Arthur Massacre? Give us your opinion on the proposed “Red Flag” laws that have been discussed recently in the wake of such mass shootings.

Question for students (and subscribers): Which is more important, gun control or people control? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Elzbenz taken in December 2015 in the Port Arthur massacre Memorial Garden, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


RELATED ARTICLES

Pictured: A prison photo of a pudgy-faced mass murderer Martin Bryant as he serves 35 life sentences in Tasmania's Risdon Prison

A former neighbour to the wealthy benefactor revealed she had confided in him that Bryant had caused multiple car accidents. Pictured: The grave of Helen Harvey at Hobart Cemetery

Bryant is serving 35 life sentences and will die in prison.

The murderer has never explained his actions but investigators have speculated the murders were sparked out of retribution for grievances while others were collateral damage.

The shooting prompted significant gun reform under then-Prime Minister John Howard via the 1996 National Firearms Agreement.

The laws banned rapid-fire guns from civilian ownership except under certain, restricted licences and tightened requirements for firearms licensing, registration and safe storage.

Last month marked 25 years since the gunman's devastating rampage, with a small ceremony held at the historic site to pay respect to the victims.

THE PORT ARTHUR MASSACRE

The Port Arthur massacre, in which 35 people died, is the deadliest mass killing in Australia's history, and the fourth biggest shooting spree anywhere in the world.

Port Arthur is a former prison colony that's now a popular tourist site, south of Hobart.

On April 28 1996 Martin Bryant, then aged 28, opened fire in the cafe, gift shop and car park. It took Bryant just 15 seconds to kill 12 people and wound 10 more in the cafe.

He then left Port Arthur, killing indiscriminately as he went. He went to a nearby B&B which his father had once tried to buy, and killed several more people there.

He was captured by police when he set the house on fire and ran out. Bryant is now serving 35 life sentences, plus an additional 1,035 years in jail.

His motive for the killing has never been established, but he is believed to have been mentally sub-normal, with an IQ of just 66.

Bryant's father had committed suicide in 1993, which contributed to his son's mental unrest.

Bryant has seriously assaulted four people during his time in prison including striking a member of staff over the head, leaving other staff 'very concerned about their safety'.

The murderer likes to kick an AFL ball in the yard when allowed outside of his cell and is believed to exchange sexual favours for chocolates.


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Looking at the the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, it’s quite clear that the greatest mass-shooting in Australia’s history was a staged event. 35 people were killed and 23 injured and it remains one of the deadliest shootings worldwide committed by one person. It shares eerie resemblances to the several mass-shooting incidents seen in the US in recent years.

This “shooter”, Martin Bryant is now serving out the 35 life sentences handed down after his conviction. Bryant has an IQ of 66. Everyone who knew him said he was a very gentle sweet young man. In fact, a wealthy eccentric woman who had befriended Bryant bequeathed to him her entire net worth and assets when she passed away. This gentle simpleton was independently wealthy and living in a mansion. He was hardly the stereotypical “disgruntled employee”, “terrorist” and showed no signs of being a homicidal maniac, in any way.

As for the American mass-shootings, t here is strong evidence that m any of these were security drills for first responders, which were portrayed by national news outlets as real events. All of these tragedies, whether staged or real were swiftly followed by calls by members of the government to pass gun control legislation.

False flags are an old technique for effecting political policies. The declassification of Operation Northwoods shows that the US Government officially considered murdering innocent civilians for the purpose of creating the necessary public outrage to generate support for a war against Cuba. Originated by the US Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962, the proposal called for the CIA or another US agency to commit terrorist acts and to kill innocent civilians. The Cuban government wold be blamed, in order to convince the world that Cuba was a dangerous country that threatened peace in the Western Hemisphere. Luckily, this proposal was rejected by President John F Kennedy.

Similar to the recent rash of apparent false flag mass-shootings in the US, there was a security drill in operation at the same place and time during the Port Arthur massacre and numerous other indications that this was a false flag event.

Although the succeeding calls for gun control in the wake of these mass-shootings in the US have failed to cause a significant change to US Constitution’s Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms, the Port Arthur massacre was quickly followed by the introduction of gun control laws by Australian Prime Minister, John Howard , the “National Firearms Programme Implementation Act of 1996”. This act restricted private ownership of “high capacity semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns, as well as introducing uniform (federal) gun licensing and it was swiftly passed into law, with bipartisan support by the Australian Commonwealth, states and territories.


Port Arthur massacre

On 28 April 1996, 35 people lost their lives and at least 18 more were injured when a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage in Port Arthur, Tasmania.

Within four months of the tragedy, the recently elected conservative coalition government under John Howard had orchestrated a tightening of Australia&rsquos state and territory gun laws, which are now some of the strictest in the world.

Anonymous, ‘35 reasons why our leaders must act’, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 2 May 1996:

Gentlemen, the people of Australia are weary of the gun debate. In Tasmania, 35 people are dead because a killer was able to arm himself with a semi-automatic rifle. Your responsibility is to make it illegal to own these guns, illegal to be in possession of them, illegal to obtain the bullets they fire. All this is within your power and the public demands nothing less.

Terrible tragedy

On Sunday 28 April 1996 Martin Bryant, a young Hobart man, went on a shooting rampage in and around Port Arthur, an historic site and major tourist destination in south-east Tasmania.

The massacre left 35 people dead and many injured and traumatised.

Using semi-automatic weapons that he had bought without a licence, Bryant had perpetrated one of the most deadly civilian mass shootings in the world to date. Australia, as a nation, was shocked to the core.

Australian firearms laws

The Australian Government only has the power to make legislation relating to the importation of firearms into the country. Laws concerning private gun ownership are state based and, in 1996, varied greatly. There were different rules about licensing and background checks, as well as the types of guns people could use.

In the wake of the Port Arthur massacre, both gun-control and pro-gun lobbyists came out in force. Those in favour of gun control used not only Port Arthur, but also mass shootings and firearm-related homicides and suicides from the two previous decades, to illustrate the need for tighter and uniform legislation across the country.

Pro-gun groups were vehemently against the limiting of firearms rights for responsible owners and disliked the implication that guns themselves, rather than their misuse by small numbers of people, were to blame for violence.

Road to change

After the massacre, the recently elected Coalition federal government decided to work towards engaging the states and territories to enact identical gun laws. This move was an attempt to ensure there would never again be another event like Port Arthur in Australia.

The new legislation would involve a ban on firearms that were fully automatic, semi-automatic (such as those used at Port Arthur), pump-action and self-loading. There would also be limitations on who could legally sell or supply weapons, minimum licensing and permit requirements, and more secure storage rules.

A mandatory &lsquocooling-off&rsquo period of 28 days before being granted a gun licence was implemented, as were the introduction of compulsory safety courses and the need to supply a &lsquogenuine reason&rsquo for owning a firearm that could not include self-defence.

These measures were unpopular with many conservative state governments and were opposed by gun-owners, a large number of whom had voted for the Coalition due to its previous support of the gun lobby.

Prime Minister John Howard was publicly upbraided at pro-gun rallies across the country (especially when he appeared in Victoria in a bulletproof vest) and was seen by many conservatives to be bullying state governments into changing their laws. Others in the community, especially gun-control groups, were supportive of Howard&rsquos decisive approach and his refusal to back down on the issue.

Over a tumultuous four months, Howard and his government convinced all states and territories to change their gun legislation to comply with the 1996 National Firearms Agreement (see link below).

A gun buyback and amnesty was initiated that allowed people to surrender newly banned weapons without legal consequences, with some people receiving payment funded by a Medicare levy as compensation.

During the buyback, more than 700,000 firearms (both banned and legal) were surrendered to the police and destroyed. This represented a third of the guns that were estimated to be in the country at the time.

Seeing results

There have been no mass shootings in Australia since the terrible events of Port Arthur. The homicide rate involving firearms has greatly decreased, leading to a reduction in the number of homicide deaths in Australia overall. Gun-related suicide rates have also decreased since the 1996 legislative changes.


Did Gun Control Really Eliminate Mass Shootings in Australia?

After every mass public shooting, there’s at least one pundit citing Australia as proof that gun control works. The narrative is relatively simple Australia had a mass public shooting, passed gun control (unlike us silly Americans, supposedly beholden to the gun lobby), got rid of all the guns, and then never had a mass public shooting again.

The shooting in question is the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, in which a gunman killed 35 with a semi-automatic rifle, leading to sweeping gun control legislation that year.

Australia’s national government introduced a mandatory buyback program which forced gun owners to sell certain firearms (mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump action shotguns) to the state, who promptly destroyed them. This program, the National Firearms Agreement (NFA), resulted in the stock of civilian firearms in the country being reduced by approximately 15-20%.

So, did it end mass shootings?

“In the 18 years prior, 1979-1996, there were 13 fatal mass shootings [in Australia],” ABC News tells us. And since then? Zero, we’re told.

It’s easy to see why this is such a convincing argument, but one needs to realize that Australia went nearly their entire history without mass public shootings – until the 1979-1996 period. Just took a look at the chart below:

Note: Edits made to original chart for accuracy

If we were to begin our timeframe in the 20 th century, then there’s also a 70 year period with no mass public shootings, before gun control measures were implemented.

With that in mind – could the drop in mass shootings simply be a return to normal? There are a number of reasons why gun control simply can’t be responsible for the drop-off in mass shootings.

Australia has more guns in circulation today than before the gun buyback.

While Australia’s gun buyback resulted in the destruction of 650,000 guns, they’ve been more than replaced. The estimates for total gun ownership in Australia are as follows:

One estimate has ownership as high at 4.5 million.

While a fewer percentage of the public owns guns than before the massacre, there are still more guns. One may argue that the nature of firearms is different however, as rifle ownership has been restricted to single-shot rifles only, but handguns remain legal. In America, 60 percent of mass public shootings are carried out with handguns alone, and prior to the Port Arthur massacre, the worst mass shooting in Australia was carried out with a bolt action rifle. Six of Australia’s 13 mass public shootings were actually “spree shootings” (where the perpetrator shoots their multiple victims over an extended period of time) which can be (and most were) carried out with single shot weapons.

Furthermore, only two of the seven non-spree shootings were known to have been committed with the types of guns that were later banned by the NFA.

It is thus impossible to attribute the decline in mass shootings to the NFA, given that the majority those massacres were carried out with firearms that were never banned in Australia.

Mass Murder Still Exists… Even if Not With Guns

Mass murder by other means (knives, fire, car attack, etc) increased, from 0 incidents in the 18 years before the ban, to 6 in the years after it.




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