SHOCK: Mourners place flowers and a teddy bear at a makeshift memorial at a sign for the Sandy Hook school, Newtown, Conn, where 26 children and adults were gunned down by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.
SHOCK: Mourners place flowers and a teddy bear at a makeshift memorial at a sign for the Sandy Hook school, Newtown, Conn, where 26 children and adults were gunned down by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Mary Altaffer

US gun laws are totally outdated says expat

LAST Friday's horrific massacre of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut has seen yet another explosion in the demand for better gun control in the US.

The gun culture chasm between the US and Australia is a marked point of difference between the two nations, which are very much alike in other ways.

American-born Kristina Wiseman moved to the Northern Rivers 20 years ago with her husband and two children from Louisiana, where recreational hunting is a way of life.

Most gun deaths are so common in America that they are no longer news.

"When I first moved to Australia, I was shocked when a shooting in Melbourne was news in Sydney," she said.

Like many Americans, she questions the sense in the US Constitution allowing people to own military-grade semi-automatic weapons.

"It was great (in the US) when they first wrote the Constitution, but I'm think they've grasped on to it for way too long and it doesn't suit modern culture ... it's totally outdated.

"You'll always have those idiots out there who say 'well he's got a semi-automatic so I need one too'," she said.

Next year the Wiseman's daughter Camille will spend a semester in Mrs Wiseman's old high school in the town of Covington.

After hearing about Friday's tragedy, Mrs Wiseman questioned whether she should still allow her to go.

Nevertheless, she remains sceptical that guns can ever be brought under control.

"You'll never have gun control like you do in Australia because no one's going to turn in their guns," Mrs Wiseman admitted.

Thankfully, Australian gun control laws are much tougher, especially since the Howard Government's 1996 banning of semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre.

The new laws led to a massive gun buy back with 700,000 guns removed and destroyed.

Harvard University research shows that since Port Arthur, there have been no gun massacres (classed as four or more people dead in a single incident) compared to 13 gun massacres and the deaths of 102 people in the 18 years prior.

At Lismore's Suffolks Outdoor Sports, owner Chris Doust sells only non-automatic hunting rifles and shotguns.

He said the notorious inaccuracy of assault rifles made them pointless to genuine sports shooters.

"They're a firearm which wasn't of interest to most Australian people, because they're not notoriously accurate, they're meant to just throw out as many bullets as they can as quickly as they can," Mr Doust said.

In the last two years he has only resold two semi-automatic weapons which came from professional shooters (who are still allowed to use them).

One of those went to a New Zealand buyer, where laws are more relaxed.

Gun facts:

IN THE US

  • More than 9000 gun homicides every year.
  • 15 times more gun homicides per person in the US than Australia
  • 17,000 gun suicides in 2005.

IN AUSTRALIA

  • Average of 38 gun homicides per year 1999 to 2009.
  • Gun suicides more than halved since 1996.


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