n African Security Review - Achieving positive reform of firearm control laws through information use : the Tasmanian case study : essay

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The defining moment for gun control in Australia and in its smallest state, Tasmania, was the April 1996 massacre at Port Arthur when 35 people were shot dead and 18 injured. By 1998 each state had enacted tighter laws with respect to licensing, compulsory registration and storage requirements, together with bans on military and military style rifles and shotguns. Surprisingly there was little data or published studies available justifying the introduction of these new laws. Australia is thus in the curious position where policy change and law reform occurred before data collection and analysis. Subsequently, there have been two major studies: The first, released in 2004, concluded that dramatic reductions in firearm-related deaths had been achieved as a result of the legislative reforms. In 2005, the Tasmanian Auditor-General produced a Special Report which examined hospital admissions for gun trauma, thefts of firearms, and statistics regarding the use of firearms to commit violent crime and suicide. While these studies have been used to ensure that the laws are not watered down, they have also identified some areas where enforcement and compliance can be improved, providing fertile ground for further public interest advocacy by gun control groups in Tasmania.


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