It has been 20 years since Martin Bryant walked into a cafe in Port Arthur, Tasmania and used semiautomatic weapons to shoot 35 people dead and injure 23 more. It was the third worst massacre by a single person in history and prompted extensive reforms to gun regulations in Australia. The Howard government banned all automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the country.
Since the Port Arthur incident gun ownership per head is 23% lower and the proportion of households with a firearm is down by 75% since 1988. However, there has been a surge in gun-buying over the past 16 years which has seen 1.02 millions guns brought in the country. Philip Alpers, founding director of GunPolicy.org at the University of Sydney’s School of Publich Health said, “The million guns destroyed after Port Arthur have been replaced with 1,026,000 new ones. And the surge only shows upward momentum.”
He also added, “Australia claims to have solved the gun problem yet this could be a temporary illusion. Those who already possess several guns have bought more. At this 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre we’ve seen a resurgence of public scepticism at the motives of self-interest groups seeking to wind back gun laws.”