The frontrunner for the Democratic presidential race gave the answer at Keene State College in New Hampshire following a question from an audience member.
“Australia managed to … take away tens of thousands, millions of handguns,” a man in the audience said. “And in one year, they were all gone. Can we do that, and if we can’t, why can’t we?”
Clinton responded, “Australia’s a good example, Canada’s a good example, the UK’s a good example. Why? Because each of them had mass killings. Australia had a huge mass killing about 20-25 years ago. Canada did as well. So did the UK. And in reaction they passed much stricter gun laws.”
Clinton then labeled the Australian example as a “buyback program,” which only is partially true. Citizens did receive money for turning in their automatic and semi-automatic rifles, although it was mandatory – that is, gun confiscation.
“The Australian government, as part of trying to clamp down on the availability of automatic weapons, offered a good price for buying hundreds of thousands of guns.” Clinton said. “And then they basically clamped down going forward in terms of having more of a background check approach, more of a permitting approach. But they believed – and I think the evidence supports them – that by offering to buy back those guns, they were able to curtail the supply and to set a different standard for gun purchases in the future.”
President Obama also has endorsed the Australian model.
Clinton noted that local communities in the US have used buyback programs.
“I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level if that could be arranged,” Clinton said. “… The Australian example is worth looking at.”
The Australian parliament, following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 that ended with 35 people dead, passed a law, the National Firearms Agreement, which did the following:
- 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.
So, what if the US were to adopt the UK model? That, too, would dramatically change the nation’s gun laws.
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The United Kingdom
Great Britain has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world. These include:
- A person must obtain a certificate from the police in order to own a gun. As in Australia, he or she must state a “good reason” for gun ownership. Self-defense is not considered a good reason for gun ownership.
- Only police officers, members of the military and individuals who get written permission from the Home Security (the British cabinet member in charge of the police) may legally own a handgun in the country.
It seems gun owners have plenty of reasons to fear another Clinton administration.
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