Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is proud that the 51,000 illegal firearms collected during a three-month amnesty may prevent a mass shooting such as the one that took place in Las Vegas last weekend.
“Every single one of those 51,000 guns could be used … could have been used in a crime where Australians could be killed. Now, they can‘t,” Turnbull told reporters Friday in Sydney.
Then, referring to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, in which Stephen Paddock fired on an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people, Turnbull said: “The killer there had a collection of semi-automatic weapons which a person in his position would simply not be able to acquire in Australia.”
The Las Vegas attack has brought up the advisability of gun ownership in America, which is protected under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Australia is seen as a location where gun ownership restrictions have worked.
Australia banned semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic shotguns in 1996, after Martin Bryant, a lone gunman, killed 35 people in the island state of Tasmania. He was using military-style weapons, bought without background checks.
Since the ban – and implementation of tougher background checks on gun purchases – there have been no mass shootings in the country.
Australia’s remaining gun stores are heavily regulated. Potential purchasers undergo a full background check by police before they can purchase a gun.
“You can’t just buy a gun,” Phillip Alpers, a firearms injury researcher at the University of Sydney, reportedly said. “They will ask you for a genuine reason for owning a firearm,” he added. “If you can’t (provide one), you won’t get the gun.”
The recent collection of illegal weapons, under the protection of amnesty for the gun owners, ended on Friday. This was the second round of collections under those conditions to be offered.
During this round, the Australian government took in everything from 19th-century weapons to a rocket launcher, Reuters reported, the illegal weapons representing about one-fifth of those estimated to still be in the hands of Australians.
The firearms gathered this year will be destroyed, and anyone who still owns an illegal weapon may face jail time. The Australian government is pushing for even harsher penalties for gun traffickers.
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