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Gun control

Not so much

According to author Bill Bryson in his wonderful book “A Sunburned Country,” Australia has more things that will kill you than anywhere else.
“Of the world’s 10 most poisonous snakes, all are Australian,” Bryson wrote. “This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip.”
So it’s a good thing that humans in Australia can no longer be counted as a mortal threat, at least when it comes to mass murder.
In late April of 1996, Martin Bryant, armed with a Colt AR-15 SP1 Carbine and several 30-round magazines, killed 35 people and wounded another 23 at historic Port Arthur, a former penal colony which was a tourist site in southeastern Tasmania.
Bryant, 28 years old at the time, was described later as intellectually disabled, although he had a girlfriend, had inherited a substantial sum from a friend and spent three years traveling the world.
His father, however, after a failed attempt to buy a bed and breakfast, fell into depression and committed suicide.
Bryant blamed the people who purchased the resort out from under his father, and their murders were the first on a killing spree that lasted into the morning of the next day.
He went to the bed and breakfast, killed the owners, David and Noelene Martin, and then proceeded to Port Arthur, where he sat down for a meal in the café before opening fire on the customers.
In just 30 seconds, he killed 12 people and wounded 10 others.
Bryant moved on to the gift shop where he unloaded the remainder of his 30-round clip, killing eight and wounding two.
It took less than two minutes.
He reloaded and went out into the parking lot, continuing to shoot at anyone that crossed his path. More people died at a tollbooth and at a service station, as he made his way back to the Seascape bed and breakfast.
That’s where police eventually caught up with him.
Bryant holed up inside and an 18-hour standoff involving a hostage ensued.
In the morning of the second day, Bryant apparently started a fire in one of the guest rooms and after some time, the fire ignited the ammunition he had stockpiled.
He ran out of the house, tearing off his burning clothing, and was arrested.
Bryant is currently serving 35 life sentences without the possibility of parole.
At the time, Tasmania, on the southeastern edge of Australia, did not require the registered purchase of any weapons other than handguns.
After the mass shooting, Prime Minister John Howard introduced stricter gun control laws, and the National Firearms Programme Implementation Act restricted ownership of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. A 28-day waiting period was introduced and the country began a massive buy-back initiative that spent $350 million collecting 643,000 firearms.
Shortly after the recent shooting at an Orlando nightclub, National Public Radio’s “Here & Now,” from WBUR in Boston, broadcast an interview with Tim Fischer, the deputy prime minister under Howard.
Fischer noted there have been no Australian mass murders since the bipartisan legislation passed (although there were lots of dissenters, and Fischer was burned in effigy), and that an estimated 200 Australian lives were saved annually by the gun control measure. Suicides have decreased. Gun violence has dipped.
“If more guns made us safer, the U.S. would be the safest nation in the world,” Fischer said. “You are not; you are 10 to 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the U.S.A. per-capita than Australia.”
Perhaps the saddest part?
The interview was being re-broadcast.
It was originally aired in July 2014, after a different domestic American mass murder involving semi-automatic weapons.
America’s response to mass shootings?
Increased purchases of firearms and of the stock of the manufacturers that make them.
Take that, Australia.
We don’t need poisonous snakes.
All God’s chillun’s gots guns.