Here’s how gun control measures have curbed violence in several countries

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The U.S. is still debating what legislation, if any, it might pass to address gun violence after several deadly mass shootings have shaken the country this year.

But other nations have grappled with similar tragedies and addressed gun violence with legislation that has effectively put a stop to mass shootings and slowed high rates of gun-related homicides.

Here’s what prompted those nations to pass stricter gun control laws and how they have helped stem violence in the country:

Australia

In 1996, a gunman armed with a high-powered semi-automatic rifle shot and killed 35 people at the Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania. The shooting followed a series of mass shootings in the country stretching back to at least the ’80s.

In response, the Australian Parliament passed the National Firearms Agreement, which banned some semi-automatic, self-loading rifles and pump action shotguns and created stricter licensing requirements, including a mandatory training program for a new licensee.

The country also implemented a buyback program for the guns that were banned, purchasing more than 700,000 firearms from citizens.

Following the 1996 law, Australia has not had any mass shootings under the definition of five or more deaths in a single shooting.

The rate of gun-related homicides also dropped 3 percent following the new law, eventually accelerating to a 5.5 percent drop annually through 2013, according to a study published in Jama.

New Zealand

New Zealand reacted swiftly after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019, killing 51 people.

The country’s Parliament passed a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles less than a month later.

Homicides have plummeted ever since. In 2019, excluding the Christchurch shooting, the country reported 79 homicides, the New Zealand Herald reported.

In 2020, that number fell to 62 before dropping to just 23 homicides in 2021.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom enacted tougher gun control restrictions following the 1996 mass shooting at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, which left 16 children and one teacher dead.

The U.K. had already implemented some restrictions on firearms in the ’80s, including banning pump-action and self-loading rifles.

After the Dunblane massacre, the country passed the Firearm Act 1997 and a subsequent amendment, which almost completely banned the possession of handguns.

Homicides began climbing in the United Kingdom after 1970, spiking at 17.9 deaths per 1 million people in 2003 before declining steeply over the following years.

In 2021, the country reported 9.9 deaths per 1 million people, among the lowest on record since 1970.

At the same time, the number of firearm offenses plummeted from more than 24,000 in 2003 to less than 10,000 in 2021.

Norway

The deadliest mass shooting in the modern age happened in 2011, when a far-right extremist masquerading as a police officer opened fire on the Norwegian island of Utøya, killing 69 people, including children. He also bombed a capital headquarters in Oslo, killing eight at the government building.

Norway compares to the U.S. in terms of the amount of firearms in the country per capita, but the Nordic nation does not authorize its law enforcement personnel to carry firearms. Some have argued that that stipulation allowed the gunman to rampage in 2011, but proponents of the strategy say it means fewer firearms are used by criminals, too.

Norway recorded only 31 homicides in 2020, ranking among the nations with the lowest murder rates. A high trust in police and the government is said to be the main reason for the consistently low rates.

Although an independent commission recommended several changes, Norway did not ban any weapons after the 2011 mass shooting. Norwegian lawmakers did, however, ban semi-automatic rifles in 2018, which took effect in 2021.

Japan

Japan has been one of the most successful nations when it comes to curbing gun violence.

The East Asian nation passed the Firearms and Swords Act in 1958, which prohibits the possession of all firearms and swords with very few exceptions.

Japan consistently records 0.3 homicides per 100,000 people annually and often reports zero intentional homicides per 100,000 people every year, according to the World Bank.

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