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The truth about Australia's gun laws

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Gary Wechter, in his "criticism" entitled "Gun-free Australia" (March 8) wrote that another letter writer, Ken McCalip ("Australia got tough," March 1), "lied or failed to check his facts" when he stated that since Australia banned and confiscated certain types of weapons, they've had "zero mass shootings" and suggested McCalip take the time to check Google for a Wikipedia article that lists all reported mass murders both before and after Australia's gun reform laws. Wechter then goes on to say that, indeed, there were 13 mass killing events in Australia since 1996.

First, as one of countless English teachers who do the same, I have forbidden students to use Wikipedia as a supporting source for any research on the grounds that almost anyone can edit Wikipedia and show his/her bias. Second, Wechter's "interpretation" of what he read is incorrect. Several scholarly articles are listed in the same Google search, articles published in, among other journals, JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association and by Simon Chapman and his colleagues at the University of Sydney. Those all state that before gun reform, 13 mass killings occurred from 1979 to 1996, whereas from 1997 (after gun reform) to 2016, no fatal mass shootings occurred in Australia. Furthermore, the rate of suicides and homicides also fell drastically. Australia then bought back all the banned weapons that were surrendered.

It is important to note here that Australia's gun laws apply to its citizens universally, and Australia does not accept the argument of a need for personal protection as grounds for immunity from compliance with the stringent regulations of the law.

In a recent televised White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, when questioned by the press, the prime minister confirmed that there has been an absence of mass shootings in Australia since 1997.

As has been rightly said: "Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to his own version of the facts."

Istar Holliday

Arroyo Grande


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