Conflicts & War

Australia marks 25 years since shooting that spurred gun control

Sydney, Australia, Apr 28 (EFE).- Australia commemorated Wednesday the 25th anniversary of the Port Arthur shooting, in which 35 people died and 22 were injured, motivating the government at that time to impose a gun control law that became a world reference.

“We look at the light that we find in the darkness of that day,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement, paying tribute to the victims of “that heinous and cowardly act.”

Morrison also thanked the government of then President John Howard for “implementing one of the strictest laws in the world, which has served to keep Australians safe.”

The massacre, considered the largest in Australia’s modern history, occurred in Port Arthur, a former British penal colony on the island of Tasmania, when assailant Martin Bryant fired a semiautomatic rifle at tourists visiting the place.

Jim Morrison, Tasmanian Special Operations Group tactical commander, participated in the police operation in Port Arthur to arrest the attacker during an incident in the old prison that lasted 18 hours.

The attacker, whose victims were aged 3 to 72, left the former prison unarmed, which allowed his arrest and subsequent trial in which he was sentenced to 35 life sentences and 1,035 years in prison, without parole.

The Port Arthur massacre prompted Howard’s conservative government to establish a national law regulating the possession, sale and trafficking of weapons, which until then varied according state by state.

“Then the country was united by horror and pain and there was strong support for what we had to do, but it was politically complicated because there were groups that were resisting,” Howard told ABC.

The national pact reached for arms control has since allowed the government to have the capacity to establish laws that regulate stockpiles and decide who can or cannot have a weapons license, as well as keep a record of weapons.

Since, Australia has seen no such massacre, although one of its citizens traveled to New Zealand in 2019 and carried out a supremacist attack with a semi-automatic military-grade weapon in two mosques in the city of Christchurch, which killed 51 and wounded 40.

Australian Brenton Tarrant was sentenced in August to life imprisonment without bail, on 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of terrorism, for this massacre that also motivated New Zealand to enact a strict control law of weapons. EFE


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