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Another Mass Shooting, And The U.S. Again Ponders Its Gun Laws

Assault-style weapons are in the firing line.

13/06/2016 9:32 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST
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Brian Snyder / Reuters
Another day in America, another mass shooting tragedy.

As America grapples with the deadliest mass shooting in its history, and what is being called the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil since the 9/11 attacks, the conversation has quickly turned to gun control; namely, whether the U.S. will take any significant action to tighten its gun laws.

The gunman who walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle and killed at least 50 people, injuring at least 50 others. People are already talking about whether laws should be tightened, or certain types of guns restricted -- such as the AR-15, a military-grade weapon able to fire 800 rounds a minute, and which was used in the 2015 San Bernardino attack and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, among others.

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A makeshift memorial with flowers and hand prints near the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida

But Sunday's shooting is sadly just the latest in a long line of mass shootings in the U.S. The shooting tracker Gun Violence Archive reports there has been 135 mass shootings -- shootings with four or more victims -- in America so far in the 164 days of 2016. That's an average of one shooting every 29 hours.

Many Americans and pro-gun advocates are already claiming that strengthening gun laws would not solve the problem. Australia had a terrible mass shooting in 1996, the Port Arthur massacre, where 35 people were killed, and landmark gun control laws were passed soon after.

In the aftermath of repeated, nightmarish gun violence, there have been numerous calls for the U.S. to adopt strict Australian-style gun laws; but Congress has stridently resisted any wholesale change, despite pleas for action from President Barack Obama, such as this tearful speech following the Sandy Hook school shootings where 20 children and six teachers were shot dead.

For the record, here is a list of all the public mass shootings -- defined by the U.S. Congressional Research service as shootings in "relatively public places, involving four or more deaths...and gunmen who select victims somewhat indiscriminately" -- in Australia since then:

Zero.

Since 1996, Australia has not had a public mass shooting where victims were indiscriminately targeted with more than four victims. There have been incidents where several people have been killed by guns -- the Lockhart murder-suicide of 2014, the Logan killings of the same year, the Hectorville siege of 2011, the Monash University shooting of 2002 -- but none on the same scale or type as we see so regularly in the U.S.

Other countries are reporting similar statistics:

Gun Violence Archive reports 23,233 shooting incidents in the U.S. in 2016. Almost 6,000 people have died, with more than 12,000 injuries. There have been 257 children under the age of 11 and 1,272 teenagers either killed or injured, and 975 reported home invasions. At the same time, there were only 715 reports of guns being used for defence.

There have been 1043 accidental shootings in that same time period.

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