Image for Port Arthur ... A retrospective ...

Gun Control in Australia

The names of numerous victims are on a simple wooden cross located at Port Arthur’s main memorial.

The deadliest mass shooting in the history of Australia occurred in 1996 when 35 individuals were gunned down. The shooting occurred in Port Arthur in Tasmania, a very popular tourist spot.

The government of Australia was tough in its response to the shooting. Successful and extremely strict gun laws resulted. These laws are being used by United States activists as a possible solution to prevent any more killings like earlier this year at a school in Florida.

Since the ruling government of Tasmania are Liberals the issue was sensitive. The Liberals proposed an easement on the firearm laws due to the state elections on Saturday. This resulted in a fierce debate. The plans had been retained by the low-key Liberals. The letter written to a firearms consultation group laid out these plans although they were not posted on the website of the party.

Australia’s Gun Laws May Represent a Solution for the United States

Approximately 57,000 guns were turned in during the national amnesty. Many people are wondering if Australia’s solution to the problem would be effective in the United States. Rene Hidding is the State Minister for the emergency management of fire and police. There was a letter written in February that remained unknown until the eve of the election. A majority was reached by the Liberals leading to the concession of defeat by their opponents. This does not mean the controversy concerning guns will simply disappear.

The Report

Gun control Australia’s Roland Browne told ABC the policy should be put first by the Liberals. He said this should occur before any debates and the election. He stated it was against the NFA or National Firearms Agreement. This agreement was created after Port Arthur. He argued it made a national embarrassment out of Tasmania because it was against the NFA. Bill Shorten is the leader of the Federal Opposition. He accused Will Hodgman of making backroom deals. He stated guns laws should not be subjected to bargaining at the last moment just to go after a few votes. For full details please visit

The Proposal

There are numerous areas included in the main proposal, including extending the duration of a gun license from five years to ten, stopping mandatory gun removal for minor storage breaches, discussing increasing the number of people able to use Category C firearms to potentially provide sporting shooters with pump action and rapid fire shotguns, and discussing the creation of a new category enabling banned guns to be used by specific specialists. Will Hodgman adamantly stated the proposals were not meant to water down the NFA. He denied any concealment attempts. He told ABC Radio that the individuals with an interest and the key stakeholders had already been advised. He said all the information was available to the public. Rene Hidding was insistent Will Hodgman strongly supported the NFA but does not believe the plans will be inconsistent.

The Details of Port Arthur

The first victims of Martin Bryant were shot at the guesthouse. The Port Arthur guesthouse had two elderly owners. They were killed by Bryant on April 28th of 1996 when he was 28 years of age. He later went on to the Broad Arrow Cafe where he shot 22 people to death. He continued his killing spree in the car park prior to driving back to the guest house. The standoff lasted for eighteen hours. He then set fire to the guesthouse before being captured outside. The number of people murdered totaled 35. His original plea was of low IQ and intellectual disabilities. When his plea was changed to guilty he was convicted with a life sentence. Martin Bryant is still in the Wilfred Lopes Centre. After the murders a strict system for owning and licensing guns was introduced in Australia. This system cracked down on pump action and semi-automatic shotguns and semi-automatic rifles. No killing sprees have occurred since this system was enforced. There are United States commentators highlighting the response of Australia to the Port Arthur Shooting. They want to see this used as a template for United States action.

The Town is Attempting to Forget Martin Bryant

The Liberals’ plans have been backed by the farming groups. Peter Skillern spoke as a representative of the Farmers and Graziers Association of Tasmania. He stated the proposals contained nothing that could possibly diminish the safety of the community. There is no way to know how much the voters are thinking about the gun control issue. The campaign of the Liberals focused mainly on the economy and jobs. There was a lot of discussion and pointing among the Liberals regarding proposals to take poker machines out of the pubs and clubs. This was a defining issue.

*Noelle Neff is majoring in journalism

ABC: Are Australia’s gun laws at risk?

YouTube: Watch Lisa Singh on gun control