Australia arms surrender, a surprise

          As per the latest estimates more than 57,000 firearms, all illegal, were handed over to officials during the three-month national firearms amnesty in Australia. It included rocket launchers, machine guns etc.

The Australian government went aghast seeing the large number and the type of weapons surrendered in the first nationwide amnesty.  Many analysts too opined that they were shocked and surprised by it.

According to the latest numbers, 57, 324 firearms and 2, 432 parts and accessories were there in the pile of arms surrendered between July and September 2016. There were 2,500 fully-automatic or semi-automatic guns and 2,900 handguns.

Australia is considered to be having the world’s toughest gun laws, in spite of these laws 250,000 unlicensed guns are estimated to be in circulation in Australia.

The highest number of firearms surrendered came from New South Wales – 24,831, behind it came Queensland with a number of 16,375, after that came Victorians with 9,175 guns.

Law Enforcement Minister of Australia, Augus Taylor commented recently, “It was a very, very good result. I am not going to give advice to other countries. This is working for us.” Guns posed  a  threat  in Australia after an incident where a  man 

claiming  to support Islamic State Group took hostage in a Sydney Café in 2014 with a shotgun and finally it ended in a shootout with police where two hostages were killed by the gunman and police finally killing the lone shooter.

Australia’s gun policy and the approval by the people should be discussed worldwide, especially in countries like U.S where this gun Policy is really a menace.

Gun ownership in United States is permitted by law after the second amendment of the constitution: “ A well-regulated Miltia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, it prohibits persons less than eighteen years of age, convicted criminals, the mentally disabled, dishonorably discharged military personnel, and others from purchasing firearms.

President Barack Obama took some bold decisions during his tenure to bring down gun violence. One the law he initiated made it mandatory for dealers of for dealers of firearms at gun shows or online to acquire federal licenses and also go for background verification. It is an astonishing fact  that  United  States  with  less than 5 percent of world’s population owns 35-50 percent of the world’s civilian owned guns as

per the report submitted by the Switzerland based Small Arms Survey.

Like U.S Canada government too has some gun restriction which the provinces, territories and municipalities are expected to implement. It too started after gun violence in 1989 when students armed with semi automatic rifle killed fourteen students. Some changes to the law were made in 1995, now the individual is required to apply for a license to buy guns and ammunition. They also need to register all firearms. But in 2012, the need to register non-restricted guns was annulled.

Israel has comparatively strict gun regulations. There is a ban on assault-weapons and to own a gun you need to register with the government. To apply, an applicant must be permanent resident or Israeli citizen and should be at least twenty-one-years-old. He should also speak some Hebrew. In the application he should mention the genuine reason to carry a firearm.

In United Kingdom strict gun laws were implemented after a gun-related tragedy in Scottish town of Dunblane in 1996. This incident led to a public campaign known as the Snowdrop Petition which results in the legislation banning handguns, with few exceptions. The government also started a temporary gun buyback program which was very successful.

In Norway, gun control was not been a reason for political uprising. It is observed that laws in Norway are tough but  ownership rate stays high. But gun homicide rates are relatively low. To own a 

gun license,  an applicant should be at least eighteen years of age and should mention a valid reason to obtain a government license. Right wing extremist Anders Behring Brewk in 2011 killed seven people in an attack in Oslo and after that an independent commission was appointed for enquiry. They recommended prohibition of pistols and semi-automatic weapons, nevertheless it was not implemented.

In Japan ownership of most guns are illegal and ownership rates are minimal. Due to this fact, Japan has extraordinarily low gun homicide rates.

According to Japan’s firearms and Sword law, the only guns allowed are air guns, shotguns and guns used for industrial or specific research. To own a gun a person must obtain authorized instruction, pass a few written, mental and drug test. They should also go through strict background verification. There will be annual inspections and the holder should inform the authorities how and where it is stored.

These throw light into the fact that such gross human rights violations and spurt in gun violence could be controlled only stringent laws. Laws alone wouldn’t help, it should be enforced strictly. Governments should restrict themselves from promoting a gun culture that caters the profit making motives of the arms and ammunition corporate worldwide.

Studies revealed that simultaneous implementation of laws aiming multiple firearms restrictions is associated with reductions in firearms deaths.                                                                                   Bonnie  Basil

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