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Weapons buy-back programs have been successful in reducing mass shootings.

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lindagray

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After at 1996 mass shooting left 35 people dead in Australia, the country said "enough."

Leaders swiftly enacted gun-control legislation and set up a program for citizens to sell their weapons back to the government so they could be destroyed.

The initiative seems to have been successful: firearm suicides dropped by 65% and homicides by 59% over the next 10 years.

While Australia had seen 13 mass shootings — defined as five or more deaths — in the 18 years before the 1996 massacre, there has only been one in the 22 years since.

It's possible that some of those declines were due to other trends. But either way, getting many guns off the streets and out of shops was connected to big drops in gun deaths in Australia.

The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma has called for regulations that they say will make the population safer.

In a statement published in the journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open on August 7, the Board of Managers for the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma issued 14 recommendations "in an attempt to stem the tide of deaths from firearm violence and support safe firearm ownership."

Their recommendations include removing firearms from domestic violence perpetrators (and those threatening violence while their cases are underway); regulating the sale of high volume ammunition, semi-automatic weapons, bump stocks, and trigger actuators; and requiring reporting of all firearm sales.

The US has a higher rate of gun violence than any other similarly wealthy country. Why not try to change that?

The US has far more mass shootings than just about any country in the world. Of countries with at least 10 million people, there are more mass shootings per capita in only Yemen, which has the second-highest per-capita rate of gun ownership (the US has the highest).

Even other countries with lots of guns, like Switzerland, have far fewer firearm deaths.

In Switzerland, however, most people gain access to weapons because of military service that provides training; other prospective purchasers have to go through a multiweek background check. Authorities there also prohibit some citizens whom psychologists deem a potential risk from owning weapons.

The US is not inherently a more violent society. What sets the country apart is that it has a lot of guns that are still really easy to get. The data that we have indicates that some gun-control measures — like banning some types of weapons, improving background checks, and putting more restrictions on weapon access — could help.

At the very least, gathering and analyzing data could help leaders determine what sort of changes might help prevent another Parkland, Las Vegas, or Sandy Hook.

Or we could do nothing and wait for the same thing to happen again.

 

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