Despite Strict Gun Control Laws, Australia Suffers Mass Shooting

A nation known for its strict gun control laws is reeling after a gunman opened fire in an hour-long shooting rampage, killing four.

“On Wednesday, Northern Territory Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw told reporters that the suspect had used a 12-gauge pump action shotgun, a banned firearm that he said might have been stolen as far back as 1997 — when Australia was beginning a tectonic shift to stricter gun legislation,” according to NPR.

The shooter fired on unsuspecting shoppers in the business district in Darwin, the capital city. of Australia’s Northern Territory. Police said the shooter was previously known to authorities and was on parole. He was wearing a court-ordered electronic tracker on his ankle.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the event was not an act of terrorism.

“We have seen a terrible act of violence take place in Darwin this evening. We know four people have lost their lives and there are a number of other casualties,” he said. “I have been in contact with Chief Minister Gunner and understand this is not an act of terrorism and a person has been taken into custody. My thoughts are with Territorians and the tight-knit community in Darwin.”

After a 1996 mass shooting, Australia cracked down on guns, buying back hundreds of thousands of weapons. They also banned semi-automatic weapons and implemented waiting periods for those who are able to purchase firearms. It is a serious crime to possess a firearm without the proper licensing in Australia.

But still, Australians are able to get their hands on weapons, as proven by the latest mass shooter.

The NPR report noted that during a 2017 amnesty period which lasted only three months, during which gun owners were allowed to turn their firearms over without penalty, 57,000 weapons were collected.

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