This Uncomfortable Orlando Tweet Reminds Us To Take A Cue From Australia
After Sunday saw the worst mass shooting in U.S. history hit an Orlando gay nightclub, many are grappling with how to respond. While there's a stream of grief, anger, and despair, there are also a number of activists who are trying to encourage gun control reforms in the wake of such a terrible attack. One recurring argument for a gun control overhaul takes a cue from Australia — and it's been getting more attention as Americans struggle to find a way to prevent another attack like the one in Orlando from happening again.
On April 28, 1996, Australia suffered the worst mass shooting in its national history — 35 were killed and 23 were wounded in Port Arthur, Tasmania, in what became known as the Port Arthur Massacre. The tragedy prompted a massive effort, led by Prime Minister John Howard, to pass the National Firearms Agreement. As noted in an NBC News report on the Port Arthur Massacre, that legislation "outlawed automatic and semi-automatic rifles, as well as pump-action shotguns." The government also instituted a buyback, which retrieved more than 640,000 firearms. Josh Butler, acting politics editor at Huffington Post Australia, decided to remind Americans that the United States might want to follow Australia's lead in a tweet that has gotten significant attention, retweeted more than 20,000 times at the time of writing.
Butler did the grunt work of coming up with an exhaustive list of mass shootings (that is, indiscriminate attacks involving four or more victims) that occurred in Australia since their government passed the extensive gun control measure. You can see the fruits of his labor below.
Note: There's nothing wrong with your computer screen. The list, as the image in Butler's tweet states, is "intentionally left blank" because there haven't been any mass shootings (based on that aforementioned definition) in the country since 1996.
As Will Oremus wrote for Slate in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Australia's policies after Port Arthur and accomplished significant positive changes for the country's safety:
Granted, there's certainly no such thing as a perfect solution to the multi-pronged threat of intersectional hatred, violence, and fear. No one can claim there's a perfect piece of legislation to prevent all of the damage that can be inflicted by guns — but Butler's tweet reminds us that it's clear that some action, any action is truly better than nothing.