An Australian gun control advocate told the panelists at The Young Turks on Tuesday that the country’s high standards on regulating firearms haven’t diminished the quality of life in her country.
“We still have hunting, we still win medals in shooting at the Olympics,” said Rebecca Peters, former director of the International Action Network on Small Arms. “Masculinity in Australia has not diminished. We still have freedom. It’s possible to have freedom and hunting and sport and freedom and safety.”
The country’s gun laws, collectively passed in 1996 as the National Firearms Agreement (NFA), have become a guidepost for American gun control supporters in the days since both the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and the theater attack in Aurora, Colorado, earlier this year.
The NFA was adopted following the Port Arthur Massacre of 1996, in which a gunman killed 35 people using semi-automatic firearms.
“By that time, the public demand, the public outrage and disgust at our political leaders was so enormous that that finally was the tipping point,” Peters said.
As host Cenk Uygur pointed out, the country had put together new, more stringent gun regulations within just 12 days of the assault, spearheaded by conservative Prime Minister John Howard. Uygur also cited a CNN piece by a University of Sydney associate professor saying the NFA resulted in a 50 percent decrease in shooting deaths since it was enacted.
The agreement also included a compulsory government buyback of semi-automatic and pump-action weapons, which took more than 650,000 of them out of circulation. A Harvard University study conducted last year (PDF) confirmed that there have been no mass shootings since it was adopted. The study also reported slight decreases per capita in both homicides and suicides by firearm.
“Whether or not one wants to attribute the effects as being due to the law, everyone should be pleased with what happened in Australia after the NFA,” the study concluded.
Watch Peters explain the effects of the NFA, as aired Tuesday on Current TV, below.