After 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, the debate surrounding gun control in America has reignited.
Alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz is believed to have gone on a murderous rampage in his old high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, with an AR-15 assault rifle.
The 17 students and teachers killed join an ever growing list of victims of atrocities committed with the AR-15 semi-automatic gun.
The Valentine’s Day massacre is the eighth deadliest mass shooting in contemporary US history and the eighteenth to take place within the confines of a school in 2018.
That’s an astonishing 18 in 44 days. It’s the eighth school shooting to have resulted in death or injury in those seven weeks.
Just let that sink in.
Each time another mass shooting happens, America only divides further over the issue of gun control laws.
One side calls for stricter regulations while the other demands access to weapons to protect themselves from attacks.
The people calling for tighter laws point to other countries such as Australia, who took action and made an effective change for the better.
Twenty-two years ago in 1996, Martin Bryan committed the deadliest mass shooting in Australia’s history, killing 35 people and injuring a further 23.
Sentenced to 35 consecutive life sentences, Bryant is still serving time at the Risdon Prison Complex.
Just like what’s happening in America right now, in the wake of the attack, a debate ensued surrounding gun control and gun laws.
The country’s then Prime Minister, John Howard, made it clear Australia would not be like the United States and quickly introduced a law making it more difficult to possess a weapon, including the type of rifle Bryant used.
At a gun rally at the time he stated:
I’ve held, for a long time, the view that I would dread the thought this country would go down the American path so far as the possession of firearms.
That is a view I’ve held before, it’s a view I’ve expressed before and to the extent it’s played a role in my own attitude.
The basis of the decision ladies and gentlemen is we believe it’s in the national interest there be a dramatic reduction in the number of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the Australian community.
And it has been taken, ladies and gentlemen because we believe not just because of those tragic events at Port Arthur, they were the culmination of a long series of events in this country which have demonstrated as has been demonstrated in other parts of the world, there’s a clear link between the volume of powerful weapons in the community and the extent to which they are used in an indiscriminate manner.
If you look at these statistics out of countries such as the United States, if you compare them with statistics in other parts of the world, there’s a clear and irrefutable link.
Although 85 per cent of Australian citizens were in support of Howard’s plans, there was of course opposition.
However, a resolution was ultimately reached.
Gun owners were paid to return their weapons and in total, the government spent $350 million to see an incredible 643,000 guns be handed in.
According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it found Australia has not experienced a fatal mass shooting, in which five or more people are killed, since the 1996 massacre.
In the 18 years prior, there were 13. The total number of firearm deaths also dropped rapidly when the changes were made.
University of Sydney professor, Simon Chapman, concluded:
Australia’s experience shows banning rapid-fire firearms was associated with reductions in mass shootings and total firearm deaths.
These findings offer an example which, with public support and political courage, might reduce gun deaths in other countries.
So why aren’t American policy makers discussing tighter gun control laws?
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.