This came to me via e-mail from a friend in Oz. Since the letter-writer, an Australian politician, has sent this to all senators and representatives in the US Congress and it has been published in Australia, I don't think anyone will mind if it's passed along here. Sadly, I don't have the politician's name. I think the advice is wise.
As a member of the Australian Parliament I am writing to urge you to
adopt Australia's gun laws in the United States.
I am aware of the risk of advice from outsiders being unwelcome, but
feel compelled to write all the same because we cannot sit idly by and
just allow senseless and avoidable deaths, in this case including 20
small children, to go on, and Australia's experience is crystal clear
and I believe the United States can benefit from it.
After 35 people, including small children, were killed in the
Australian island state of Tasmania in April, 1996, the Australian
Police Ministers Council agreed to a national plan for the regulation
of firearms. The plan is known as the National Firearms Agreement and
its terms include:
Banning military style automatic and semi-automatic firearms;
Limiting the availability of non-military style semi-automatic
rifles and shotguns to primary producers, professional vermin
exterminators, and a limited class of clay target firearm users;
Introducing registration for all firearms, including longarms;
Grouping firearms into 5 broad licensing categories;
Requiring all licence applicants to establish a genuine reason for
Requiring all licence applicants other than those applying for
category A firearms to establish that they have a special need for the
particular category of firearm;
Requiring that permits be acquired for every new firearm purchase,
with the issue of a permit to be subject to a waiting period of at
least 28 days to enable appropriate checks to be made;
Stricter storage requirements for all firearms; and
Requiring all sales to be conducted by or through licensed firearms dealers.
Since these laws were enacted in 1996 Australia has not had a repeat
of the massacres we had before they came into effect.
The number of gun deaths in all categories -- homicides, suicides, and
accidental shootings -- has declined dramatically since 1996, and
thousands of Australian lives have been saved as a result.
I implore you to look at our experience. As the number of guns in
Australia reduced, so too did gun violence. It is simply not true that
owning a gun makes you safer. The fact that Adam Lanza's mother was
killed with a weapon she owned is all too familiar. More weapons in
homes and schools equals more killing.
Those families who have lost a loved one are in our hearts and
thoughts at this time. But please let this not be yet again
condolences and prayers and hand-wringing -- let this be the time when
something real was accomplished.
There are plenty of problems in our world which are beyond the power
of legislators to do much about. This is not one of them.