America's powerful National Rifle Association has taken aim at Australia's ban on assault weapons, warning that it hasn't made people safer. The only problem is... all the credible evidence points the other way.
The incredibly provocative online post featuring a blood stained Australian map appears on the NRA's "America's 1st Freedom" website. It argues Australians "paid a price" when the country banned assault weapons after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
"The Australian people paid a massive price in liberty. Their reward? At best, an unexamined resolution that things were somehow better now."
"Australia's gun confiscation is indeed a lesson to America: It is a sign of what is to come if we hold our rights lightly."
The NRA's latest Oz-bashing comes after U.S. President Barack Obama praised Australia's ban on assault weapons during his chat with comedian Marc Maron.
"This is the gun-control regime that our president applauds for its decisive resolve. It robbed Australians of their right to self-defence and empowered criminals, all without delivering the promised reduction in violent crime," wrote the NRA.
A little recap: 35 Australians were gunned down in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur in 1996. It plunged the country into deep mourning, and remains to this day one of the worst single-shooter massacres in history.
Then-prime minister John Howard used the event to launch a very controversial "gun buyback scheme".
He appeared before angry crowds across the country, famously being forced to wear a bulletproof vest (above) at one event.
Howard's deputy prime minister Tim Fischer told The Daily Show the whole policy was passed in three and a half months. And many Americans – who argue reform takes time – still can't quite believe it.
More than 640,000 high-powered rifles were bought off farmers and hunters by the Australian government. They were all destroyed.
And in the 10-year period following the policy, homicides from guns plummeted.
The data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and collated in a study titled "Do Gun Buybacks Save Lives?" shows that homicides by guns dropped 59%.
Suicides from guns also dropped 65% in the same period.
But perhaps the most telling statistic: Australia had 13 mass shootings* in the 17-year period before the Port Arthur massacre. It has had zero since.
No one is arguing Australia is the safest... but when it comes to guns, restricting high-powered rifles has made the country undeniably safer.
Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at email@example.com.
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