On Sunday, April 28th, 1996, a man named Martin Bryant entered an Australian cafe and began eating lunch. Shortly after finishing his meal, he pulled a Colt AR-15 (semi-automatic rifle) from his sizeable blue duffle bag. Firing from the hip, Bryant murdered twelve people and wounded ten in a matter of 15 seconds. He then walked to the opposite side of the cafe and killed another eight people and injured two others. Before fleeing the scene, Martin changed magazines.
Once out of the cafe, Bryant shot and killed people in the car park, a mother and her children walking down the street, and other motorists before stealing a car and capturing a hostage. At some point during the 18-hour hostage negotiations, Martin Bryant killed his hostage and set fire to the house. In attempts to escape, he suffered severe burns and was captured. Questioning later revealed that Martin had used cash to purchase the automatic weapons at a local gun shop.
In response to the Port Arthur massacre that killed 35 and injured dozens, the Australasian Police Council (APMC) founded the National Firearms Agreement (NFA). Laws to support the Agreement were passed by the State governments within 12 days of the massacre. The NFA included a gun buy-back provision that saw a return of 640,000 firearms; a national firearm registry that implemented a 28-day waiting period for firearm sales and tightened licensing rules; a law that made it illegal for anyone under the age of 12 to use a firearm; and required that gun owners be 18 years of age or older with secure storage and a genuine reason for needing a gun.
Following the new agreement and federal laws, conservative Australian Prime Minister faced political and public resistance. While there was widespread public support, about 3,000 people felt they were unfairly paying the price for another’s crimes. However, research during the years since has shown that gun control laws have considerably reduced gun-related deaths. The year following the reforms, gun-related homicides had decreased 7.5%, as well as a steady decrease in firearm-related suicides. Since the mass shooting in 1996, there have been no mass firearm massacres in Australia.
However, in America, as of May 18th, 2018, there have been 101 mass shootings. Democratic congressman, Eric Swalwell, published an article in USA Today titled, “Ban Assault Weapons, Buy Them Back, Go After Resisters,” in which Swalwell proposes that the government should offer $1,000 for every weapon covered by a new ban and criminally prosecute anyone who defies the buyback.
Swalwell modeled his policy based on Australia’s mandatory gun buyback, claiming that Australia “got it right.” Some argued that gun confiscation is a slippery slope and violates citizens rights. Swalwell dismissed these assertions saying that Democrats, including himself, had been too deferential to 2nd Amendment activists.
Despite opposition and objection, Congressman Swalwell continues to push his policy citing that, “the right to live is supreme over any other.”