US Vice President Kamala Harris has pointed to Australia as a shining example of how a country can successfully enforce gun laws after the nation endured its 565th mass shooting this week.
Standing in front of both country's flags during a luncheon held for Anthony Albanese in Washington DC on Thursday, the vice president condemned the actions of a gunman who stormed a bowling alley in Maine, killing 18 people and injuring 13 more. She again advocated for stricter gun control.
"Gun violence has terrorised and traumatised so many... It does not have to be this way, as our friends in Australia have demonstrated," Ms Harris said, turning to her right and gesturing to the prime minister.
The statement was met with a round of applause by those in the room before both leaders joined in.
VP Kamala Harris condemns the Lewiston, Maine, mass shootings at a luncheon for Australian PM Anthony Albanese and argues for gun control:
“Gun violence has terrorized and traumatized so many ... It does not have to be this way, as our friends in Australia have demonstrated.” pic.twitter.com/XCk2WpPUO6
— The Recount (@therecount) October 26, 2023
Australia's crackdown on gun ownership
In contrast to the US, there is no legal right to gun ownership in Australia and 'self-protection' is not a recognised reason to possess, own or use a firearm. The system in Australia requires both the licensing of the individual shooter and registration of each individual firearm, and prospective gun owners face a national registry and 28-day wait period before approval is granted.
In 1996 the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, which left 35 people dead and injured a further 18, prompted mandatory 'gun buybacks' from the government — a program which allows civilians to sell their privately owned firearms to authorities without risk of prosecution. The program paired with radical changes to gun laws have resulted in the rate of mass shootings plummet in Australia.
The decision to implement decisive change after the 1996 mass shooting is often upheld as an example of what the US should do, however, more and more tragedies are reported every month with many US states in favour of keeping guns laws as they are.
The US state of Maine has extremely relaxed gun laws where the most recent shooting took place. Residents are able to obtain a firearm without a waiting period of undergoing a background check, and there are no 'red flag' laws in place for authorities to look out for.
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