President Obama is trying to capitalize on the massacre at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, with new action on gun control, and one country that he has held up as a model – Australia – used mass gun confiscation in 1996.
“We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings,” Obama told reporters. “Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.”
What Obama is referring to is the action Australia’s parliament took after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 that ended with 35 people dead.
That body passed a law called the National Firearms Agreement which enabled the following actions:
- Effectively banned the private ownership of automatic and semiautomatic rifles, and pump-action rifles and shotguns.
- Banned competitive shooting involving automatic and semiautomatic rifles.
- Instituted a mandatory program in which 650,000 automatic and semiautomatic rifles were purchased by the government and destroyed. That accounted for about one-sixth of all guns in the country.
- Required the registration of all guns.
- Required all gun owners to get a license and take a safety course.
- Limited gun ownership to those with a “genuine need,” such as hunting. Self-defense was not considered a legitimate need for gun ownership. “Personal protection will not be regarded as a genuine reason for owning, possessing or using a firearm,” a summary of the law on the Australian government website reads.
The Australian option, of course, would require an act of Congress — something that is highly unlikely with a pro-Second Amendment Congress currently in power. The only way to implement the Australian option may be to amend the Constitution to eliminate the Second Amendment.
Varad Mehta of TheFederalist.com said some analysts believe as many as 1 million firearms were confiscated in Australia, which would have been one-third of the guns in the country.
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“There are about as many guns in America as there are people: 310 million of both in 2009,” he wrote. “A fifth to a third would be between 60 and 105 million guns. To achieve in America what was done in Australia, in other words, the government would have to confiscate as many as 105 million firearms.”
There are some anti-gun measures Obama could take without congressional approval. These actions were outlined by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group “Everytown for Gun Safety” in a report.
Bloomberg’s recommendations include:
- Enforcing a federal law called the “Gun-Free School Zones Act” that would make it a crime for private citizens to carry a gun within 1,000 feet of a school.
- Require anyone labeled a “high-volume gun seller” to get a federal license and comply with all federal laws, including those that require background checks.
- Prosecute people who lie on background checks when they try to buy guns.
- Require gun dealers to report any would-be gun purchaser who cannot pass a federal background check to law enforcement.
- Barring anybody ever convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun. That means a person who was convicted of a misdemeanor assault on his girlfriend 30 or 40 years ago would be barred from owning a gun today even he has nothing else on his criminal record.
Obama would be able to take these actions with an executive order.
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