Australia hasn’t had a fatal mass shooting since 1996. Here’s what it did

Twenty-two years ago, just weeks after the deadliest and last fatal mass shooting in Australia’s history, the country’s then-Prime Minister John Howard made it clear: Australia will not be like the United States.

“I would dread the thought that this country would go down the American path so far as the possession of firearms,” said Howard – at a gun rally.

Each time there’s a mass shooting like the one in Thousand Oaks, California, where 12 people were killed at a country-western dance bar, attention turns to Australia and the changes it made to its gun laws two decades ago.

More on mass shootings: Why the AR-15 keeps appearing at America’s deadliest mass shootings

Australia made sweeping gun control measures after a man killed 35 people with a semi-automatic weapon in a popular tourist area of Port Arthur, in Tasmania. Weeks after the April 1996 tragedy, the country and its states began banning rapid-fire guns to tamp down on mass shootings and then offered to buy the prohibited firearms. 

Research suggests it’s worked.

The University of Sydney, in a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found Australia hadn’t experienced a fatal mass shooting – one in which five or more people are killed – since the 1996 shooting. In the 18 years prior, 1979-1996, there were 13 fatal mass shootings in Australia.

More on gun control: Do gun control debates change anything? In these countries they did

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