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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The United States is not the only country to have experienced a national reckoning following a mass shooting. Australia, Scotland, Finland and other countries provide important lessons in how to react to a gun-related massacre.

Some argue the U.S. is unique in its historical, legal and cultural association with guns. And one criminologist even posits that America’s “culture of individualism” puts it at a greater risk of mass shootings. But don’t we owe it to the child victims of Sandy Hook and the countless other innocent victims of gun violence to examine every possible solution and take action to make this a safer society for all its citizens?


Event: In 1996, a gunman killed 35 people and wounded 21 more at the seaside tourist town of Port Arthur, Tasmania in the worst mass murder in Australian history. The 28-year-old killer, Martin Bryant, used a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a military-grade L1A1 self-loading rifle that he bought from a dealer without a required gun license.

Reaction: Only 12 days later, the newly elected conservative prime minister John Howard announced the government would enact sweeping gun-control laws. The laws received bipartisan support from political leaders and surveys showed up to 90 percent of an outraged public supported gun control following the massacre. The policies included a gun buyback program, a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases, a ban on semi-automatic and automatic rifles and shotguns, ending private sales, requirements that firearms be individually registered to the owner and that gun owners present a genuine reason (not including self-defense) for purchasing a gun.

Result: The mandatory gun buyback program resulted in the removal and destruction of more than 700,000 firearms within two years (the equivalent of 40 million U.S. guns). The gun homicide rate fell by 59 percent and the gun suicide rate fell by 65 percent in the decade after the laws were passed. Also, gun-related robberies dropped and there was no increase in home invasions. Sixteen years later, Australia’s gun homicide rate is 30 times lower than the U.S. and there have been no more massacres.


Event: In 1996, the same year of the Australian mass shooting, 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton shot and killed 16 children and their teacher and seriously wounded two other teachers before killing himself at an elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland. He used four legally purchased handguns — two 9 mm Browning HP pistols and two Smith & Wesson M19 .357 Magnum revolvers with full-metal jacket and hollow-point ammunition. Scottish tennis star Andy Murray was present at the school when the mass shooting occurred and took cover in a classroom.

Reaction: Following the shooting, a petition (known as the Snowdrop Campaign) was started by the families of the victims, which called for a ban on the private ownership of handguns in the U.K. The petition gained over 750,000 signatures in six weeks. Conservative prime minister John Major set up a public inquiry called the Cullen Report, resulting in U.K. lawmakers passing some of the toughest gun laws in the world by outlawing private ownership of all handguns.

Result: While initially the new laws didn’t appear to have a significant effect, today the U.K. has one of the lowest rates of gun homicide in the world at 0.07 per 100,000 people, which is 40 times lower than the U.S. Gun crimes have fallen steadily, dropping by nearly half since 2005. Last year, Scotland had 88 murders, 11 less than the previous year, and only five involved a gun. Criminologist and member of Britain’s Gun Control Network Peter Squires said “the murder rate has fallen and all the indicators are moving in the right direction.”


Finland: The Scandinavian nation has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, with 1.5 million registered guns in a population of more than five million, and 45 guns for every 100 people. Two mass shootings in 2007 and 2008 resulted in stricter gun control laws – the minimum age for gun ownership was raised, gun permits are reviewed every five years and new gun license applicants must show they are active members of a gun club for one year and be checked by a doctor and police.

Norway: In 2011 Anders Behring Breivik shot 69 people to death. Norway has very strict gun control laws, but a report following the massacre criticized Norway’s gun laws as “inadequate” and called for a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles like the ones used by Breivik to kill so many people in such a short amount of time.

Germany: The Winnenden school shooting in 2009 resulted in 16 deaths and 11 injuries. The perpetrator was 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer, who killed himself. Following the incident, the German government passed laws approving a nationwide electronic weapons registry, increasing the age limit to own certain types of guns, and random inspections of gun-owners’ homes. The National Weapon Registry (NWR) will take effect in 2013.

Canada: The École Polytechnique Massacre, or Montreal Massacre, occurred in 1989, when 25-year-old Marc Lépine killed 15 and injured 14 people using a legally obtained Mini-14 rifle. The shooting resulted in the Firearms Act of 1995, which included stricter screening of gun applicants, tougher training requirements, stricter gun and ammunition storage rules, and the registration of all firearms.

AP Photo/The Connecticut Post, Christian Abraham

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26 responses to “How Other Countries React to Mass Shootings”

  1. Ehross says:

    You left out Palestine, mass killings are a way of life for the Palestinians and apparently will continue until they are all killed or driven off their remaining land.

    • The difference between countries like Syria, and the Palestinians, who are engaged in either civil war or fighting to gain sovereignty is that we live in a country of laws, purportedly at peace, and consider ourselves a bastion of freedom and democracy where everyone has an opportunity to prosper and peaceful coexistence is the norm.

      We should compare ourselves with Western Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and other civilized countries, rather than those that are engaged in a civil war or consumed by social unrest.

      Your argument reminds me of the excuse we made when Clinton proposed healthcare reform and the best his opponents could muster was comparisons with the healthcare system in Chile!

      • Michael Kollmorgen says:

        I never will understand WHY this county compares itself to the worst elements of extremism and their associated countries.

        And, as such, we lower the bar on what we expect our country to represent.

        We should be comparing ourselves to the best the world has to offer, not the worst. And, as such we, in turn, raise our own goals of what we represent or what we hope to attain as a society……………………..

        Seems to me the United States has a lot of things backasswards and this is just one of them.

        • Sand_Cat says:

          Probably because the worst elements of extremism and their associated countries are far more likely to make the U.S. look good than the truth.

    • amazonfan says:

      You’re disgusting. You’re absolutely disgusting. Not only are you genocidal (kill them off or drive them off their land?!!!) but you don’t know the first thing about them. Mass killings is not a way of life for the Palestinians!!!! However, I would bet that killing (or the desire to kill) is a way of life for a racist, genocidal, cowardly, extremist loathsome piece 0f shit like you!!!!!

      If anybody should be driven off their land, or killed, it’s murderous genocidal psychopathic racist extremist arseholes like you who contributes nothing but hatred to the world. The world will a much better place after you are gone!

    • amazonfan says:

      I don’t know what your background is, but I will tell you this. If you are Jewish, you should change religion, as Judaism does not condone genocidal extremists! If you are Israeli, you will soon find that the people has no patience for your extremism! If you aren’t Jewish, or Israeli, take your extremism and shove it up your ass, as genocidal extremists are enemies of Israel and Judaism. That goes for Jewish and/or Israeli genocidal extremists as well!!!!!

      You are nothing but a disgusting and loathsome genocidal extremist piece of shit!!!

    • amazonfan says:

      Last comment, before I take a shower to get your stench off me. I hope to god you don’t have a family, for if you do, I bet they would be so ashamed to be related to you they wouldn’t be able to show their faces in public!!!!!

  2. Plumbline says:

    We were made to be in relationship with God through Christ, and don’t run very well if we avoid or reject the owners manual……..

    Romans 1:28-30………

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

    • english_teacher says:

      That’s your god. What if mine isn’t the same as yours? What if I’m Hindu or Sikh or Buddhist? Then, how do you explain it?

      Religion and god(s) have nothing to do with this. It has to do with treating other people with respect and not hating.

    • Richie T says:

      The laws of this country have nothing to do with any religious belief, and the laws of this country can have no kind of influence on any religious belief, if they did, we be in big trouble, You live in the United States Get over it.

    • Michael Kollmorgen says:

      Your Christian Religion has, in a indirect way, caused many of these shootings.

      In our society, it’s usually found that some of these mass killers have a deep-seated belief in the Christian god that allows them to carry out these mass killings and justify their actions.

      God and Guns do not make for a harmonious society in anyway whatsoever.

      If you don’t believe this, look at any middle-eastern country. And, in all actuality, we are not that far from them. The only thing that stops this type of behavior in our society strong man-made laws and no endorsement of any religion and no involvement between government and religion.

    • Sand_Cat says:

      Speaking of debased minds, maybe you should try reading a bit more of the Bible yourself; at least you might begin to understand why many people consider it and the religions it spawned repugnant.

      See my reply to your co-fanatic Ladd, who can’t spell “evil.”

  3. Jim Lou says:

    The difference with those countries and US is 2nd amendment. It has been interpreted to allowing firearms.

    Nothing will happen unless 2nd amendment has been updated, which won’t happen. It is very hard to have any amendment enacted.

  4. lambypie says:

    Quoting the bible is stupid did they have assault rifles then? Think not ah progress !

    • Ladd says:

      Quoting the bible is stupid? Little has changed sence then”. It doesn’t matter if murder is committed with a bow & arrow or an assault rife, evel is evel. No matter what form it comes in”or what place in time it happend”. The bible speaks of the evel then,and it does reflect to our time. It was present then and its present now! don’t show your Ignorance!

      • shawnthesheep says:

        Anyone who claims to know the bible but cannot spell evil should not be taken seriously on any issue. This is not a religious issue. This is a public safety issue. Quoting scripture does not stop bullets.

      • Sand_Cat says:

        Yes the Bible speaks many appalling evils, a very great many of them ordered or committed directly by the being who is supposed to be the “hero” of the story.

        Mark Twain said it best:

        “The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.”

        and even better:

        “Some people are disturbed by those passages in scripture that they don’t understand. I’m disturbed by the passages I do understand.”

  5. Remember…you can’t have slaughter without laughter. Tee Hee.

  6. phantomoftheopera says:

    why does the right not want us to be among the best nation in the world? among industrialized nations we have the highest rates of gun murder, the highest rates of maternal and infant death, the greatest number of children living in poverty. the right wants largely unrestricted access to guns but not health care, decent paying jobs, etc.

    and they say they’re the party of family values!

  7. John Edkins says:

    In a broader view, world history is littered with examples of entire populations or demographic subgroups who were disarmed, later to be enslaved or exterminated. I am just as pro-choice and egalitarian as most other readers here, and I too voted last election to curtail the plutocratic onslaught of our democracy by the wealthy.

    However, “gun control” presumes that weapons can be removed from the hands of the unstable or irresponsible, without affecting the right to personal security for those citizens who are both sane and responsible. I find that in many ways this has not been effective. Gun control is a band aid on the symptom, without seeking the cure by addressing the deeper social evils that lead some to such aberrant behavior.

    Education, in all of its many forms has been under attack by (both the witting and the ignorant adherents of) our increasingly plutocratic government for decades. Ignorance is a monster. It is the avenue through which our freedoms are being assaulted. As the plutocracy shuts down our schools, it poisons the roots of s free society.

    • shawnthesheep says:

      This is basic math. More people are killed by guns than are saved by using guns to defend themselves. This is a public safety issue. The gun prevalence in our country is a serious threat to public safety. Lowering the availability of guns would lead to fewer gun deaths, be they by murder, suicide or accident.

      Whatever paranoid, existential threat you might be fearing, whether it’s government tyranny or some sort of genocide by one group against another, the reality is the prevalence of guns in the US is a far bigger threat to public safety.

      • Whatever calculation you used to derive {# of people saved by using guns to defend themselves} is not basic math. Fuzzy math is more like it.

        Why does a reference to historical fact make Mr. Edkins paranoid? Really?

        • Sand_Cat says:

          Can you produce any evidence to support your claim of “fuzzy math”?
          I thought not.

          Don’t accuse others of fuzzy thinking, then immediately produce some of your own. That’s basic logic.

    • Kevin says:

      That “it won’t solve everything so let’s do nothing at all” argument is weak. We do more to restrict who drives an automobile in this country than who has access to a gun. Should we repeal all speed limits? Obviously those onerous speed laws haven’t stopped all reckless driving.

  8. lambypie says:

    Just a note to Ladd you the audacity to call me ignorant when you don’t even know how to spell evil. That’s EVIL .

  9. Why is there nothing to say how the citizens protected themselves from the major jump in other violent crimes when they had no way to defend themselves?

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