Is gun ownership increasing in Australia?

On Friday, Australia had its worst mass shooting since the nation overhauled its gun control laws more than 20 years ago. The suspected murder-suicide of a family of seven in Western Australia has inevitably revived discussion of the laws, often described as among the strongest in the world. Brought in following a 1996 massacre in Tasmania that killed 35 people, the legislation banned the use of automatic and semi-automatic weapons. It led to the destruction of more than one million guns. The country has had two mass shootings since 1996: the murder-suicide of a family of five in 2014, and the seven deaths at a rural property on Friday. However, as with debates overseas, opinions differ over what role gun laws have played in preventing or allowing tragedies, and whether changes are needed. Firearms found at the scene in Western Australia appeared to be properly licensed, authorities have said. What are the ownership trends? Australians now own more guns in total than they did before the 1996 crackdown, according to figures from 2016 – the last time they were comprehensively studied . That amounts to more than three million firearms, according to separate government statistics . But gun ownership per capita has dropped by 23% during the same time, said Associate Prof Philip Alpers from the University of Sydney. "Far fewer people now have a gun in their home but some people have a lot more guns," Associate Prof Philip Alpers told the BBC. In the past 30 years, […]

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