Learning from the experience of gun control in Australia

Simon Chapman points out that his 2006 paper in Injury Prevention “Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms: faster falls in firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and a decade without mass shootings,” was downloaded over 80,000 time in December 2012, presumably following the tragedy in Sandy Hook. The article usage statistics for this paper (as for all the papers we publish) are available via a link in the right sidebar on the paper’s web page.

The intense interest in this paper made it, Chapman noted, “quite easily the most opened paper I have ever published on any subject in 35 years of public health research.” Simon is an accomplished researcher and a brilliant public health advocate, so it is saying a lot to compare this paper to his other body of work.

However, the interest in this particular paper is not surprising given the context of current events and the simple, clear message of the analysis presented. Americans would do well to consider the lessons learned from Australia’s experience with gun safety legislation.. Catalyzed by a mass shooting in Port Arthur in 1996, a package of gun control policies was advanced in that country and had a demonstrable positive effect on the risk of death by firearm assault or suicide. And in teh intervening 16 years there have been no mass shooting in Australia.

For those interested, Prof. Chapman and the Sydney University Press have made his 1998 book on the topic (“Over Our Dead Bodies: Port Arthur and Australia’s fight for gun control”) freely available online here as an e-book. Please have a look and share the link with others who might be interested.


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