Gun Control Around The World


Photo courtesy of The Ohio State University

A graph illustrates the amount of gun deaths in Australia before and after the 1996 gun law.

The recent mass shootings in Florida and Las Vegas have created a significant controversy about gun control across the US. Before students at AHS form opinions on the topic, it is essential to understand the United States’s systems and legislation in place compared with other countries’.  

The second amendment to the US constitution was created in 1791. It states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Gun Control Act of 1968, which regulates firearms at the federal level, requires that citizens must be 18 years of age or older to purchase shotguns, rifles or ammunition in the United States. Fugitives, people deemed dangerous to society, and people involuntarily committed to mental institutions are among those who may not purchase firearms.

In a New York Times podcast, “The Daily”, the hosts interviewed Dr. Barnhurst, an emergency physiatrist. She explained the process she has to take to commit a potentially dangerous person to a mental institution, therefore prohibiting them from purchasing a firearm.

“In order to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital involuntarily, you have to either be dangerous to yourself, dangerous to others, or gravely disabled (unable to provide for your basic needs) and you have to meet one of these three things because of a mental illness. Often times, a potentially dangerous person does not have a specific mental illness but is still a large threat to the safety of themselves and others,” Barnhurst said.

Barnhurst then explained the fault in the federal database’s system of prohibiting firearm purchases.

“If someone is involuntarily committed to the hospital then his name goes into a federal database of people who are prohibited from purchasing guns. However, they will still be able to purchase from private party sales, internet sales, and gun shows.”

According to BusinessInsider, there have been 30 mass shootings in the US since January 2018. In Australia, however, there is a very different tone surrounding gun control and mass shootings.

On April 28, 1996, 35 people were killed by a gunman using semi-automatic weapons in an Australian cafe. This shooting later became known as the Port Arthur massacre. Less than two weeks after this shooting, new gun laws were created by the Australian states. These laws banned semi-automatic rifles and shotguns (weapons that can kill many people quickly) in the country. Now Australia has 28-day waiting periods, thorough background checks, and a requirement to present a “justifiable reason” to own a firearm. Since 1996, Australia has had no fatal mass shootings.

With a comprehensive understanding of this topic and no pre-made assumptions, students at AHS can formulate their own ideas and opinions on the controversy and find ways to partake in the discussion themselves.