Brodie Farquhar: What’s going on down under? |

Brodie Farquhar: What’s going on down under?

Dear Editor,

In April 1996, a nut job stood up in a little cafe in Port Arthur, Australia, pulled out a semi-auto weapon from a sports bag and began killing people. Before he was captured the next day by an Aussie SWAT team, the killer racked up 35 dead and 23 wounded.

Now we’ve got Orlando and a new tally — 49 dead and 53 wounded.

While the U.S. experiences mass killings every few months, Australia has not experienced a mass killing since 1996.

Not one.

Indeed, while gun-caused carnage continues in our country, Australia has experienced a significant decline in mass killings, homicide, assault and suicide.

So what’s going on down under?

In 1996, the conservative Howard government brokered the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) with the states and territories. The new law and regulations effectively banned the ownership of semi- and full-automatic guns (above five rounds), implemented more stringent permits and bought-back all existing semi- and full-automatic weapons.

And while there’s academic debate about how much credit (or blame) the NFA gets for long-term declines in gun violence, there is less gun violence in Australia across the past two decades, and certainly in comparing Australia with the United States.

Semi- and full-automatic weapons were not envisioned or imagined by our Founding Fathers, in an age of single-shot muzzle loaders and pistols. And yet, look at the sheer firepower employed by today’s U.S. mass-killers, where the weapon of choice is an AR-15. Orlando. San Bernadino. Aurora. Newtown.

According to a 1982-2016 Mother Jones’ database, of the 10 shootings with the most casualties — killed and wounded — seven involved an assault-style rifle.

While we have 5 percent of the world’s population, we have 31 percent of the world’s public, mass-shootings, according to a University of Alabama study.

That’s insane.

Why do we need large-capacity magazines in rapid-fire weapons such as the AR-15? It has nothing to do with hunting. And it is massive over-kill when it comes to home or personal defense.

Just who do these AR-15 owners think they’re going to fight? Meth-crazed home invaders? Cops? Soldiers? United Nations troops? Aliens? Aliens from outer space?

I’m sure there are responsible AR-15 owners, but too many AR-15 owners acquire those guns out of fear and hatred. And then, there are all the Walter Mitty-types who think firepower make them tough guys similar to Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson characters.

Statistically, high firepower gun owners are more likely to use these weapons on themselves, family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. The idea of good guys with guns stopping bad guys with guns is statistically irrelevant, in spite of the fact there are 325 million guns in a population of 300 million. You’re far more likely to be struck by lightning or win a big lottery, than be a hero for the NRA.

Australia has plenty of hunting rifles and shotguns, and more than a few pistols for home defense or competitive shooting. It is not a country where terrified citizens huddle behind locked doors, fearful of heavily-armed criminals. It hasn’t happened. Indeed, it is a free, peaceful and open society.

I argue that Australia is more free than the U.S., in that Aussies are not fearful of nut jobs with huge firepower. 

Not any more.

Why can’t we be as smart as the Aussies?


Brodie Farquhar


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