Obama is sure to stoke a push back from the NRA over his most recent comments. Obama claimed in an impassioned question and answer forum that “Australia got it right” and that American should be “ashamed.” According to Obama, the United States is the only country that would put up with such laws, and that Australia had gotten gun control laws right.
The frustrated comments come in the wake of yet another school shooting, this one in Oregon. The most recent attack claimed the life of “only” one victim, besides the shooter himself who committed suicide. A teacher also suffered a minor injury. This marked the 74th school shooting in the last two years.
So what are these laws that the President so admires? And how will the NRA and other pro-gun rights groups view such laws?
Australia’s Laws Shaped By Violence
Once upon a time, Australia’s gun control laws were quite lax, similar to the United States. Given the country’s frontier status and similar colonial conditions as the United States, this should come as no surprise. It was a country on the edge of the British Empire and on the edge of the wilderness. Guns were necessary for hunting and defense.
From the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s Australia suffered a string of shootings, some of the perpetuated by motorcycle gangs. Some states began to restrict gun rights by requiring registration and also limiting the sale of self loading rifles and other powerful weapons.
In 1996 a lone gunman, Martin Bryant carried out a stunning attack in Port Arthur, a popular tourist town. In the attack 35 people were killed and 23 others were injured. Mr. Bryant was not killed in the attack and was sentenced to over a 1,000 years in jail. Mr. Bryant had a long history with mental illness and violent behavior but was able to purchase guns without the required license.
The horrific attack quickly shifted the views of many Australians in regards to gun rights. Before the attack there was never enough support to push through any sweeping or powerful gun reform laws. In the aftermath of Port Aurthur, however, an aggressive campaign led by both the government and the media caused public sentiments to shift.
Australia’s gun laws would enrage the NRA
Following the Port Aurthur assault, the federal government in Australia quickly moved forward with sweeping gun reform laws. Some states tried to resist the Federal government’s push for gun reform, but they were eventually forced to submit to the government’s push for reform.
Now, to buy a Class A non semi automatic rim rifle, shotgun, air rifle, or even paintball gun, a person must demonstrate a “genuine reason” for the purchase. Since only a reason needs to be provided, purchasing such guns is not overly restricted. To buy a Class B non semi automatic center-fire rifles and muzzle loaded guns a genuine reason and genuine need must be presented. Purchasers must basically show that Class A gun is not sufficient.
Buying more advanced weapons is even more heavily restricted. For example, Class C semi automatic rifles, which include guns that hold 10 or fewer bullets, can only be owned by professional shooters, some clay target shooters, and government agents. A Class D rifles, which include standard semi automatic rifles and shot guns holding more than five rounds, can be owned only by government agencies and some professional shooters. Target shooters can own handguns, but regulations are very strict.
Pushing through such gun laws in the United States would probably be impossible. Even in Australia, the search and seizure of guns, most of which were registered, was no easy task. In the United States such attempts would likely be met by armed violence. Still, President Obama apparently wants to see such laws installed in the United States, though he has nowhere near enough political clout to push through such reforms.