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After the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Australia banned all semi-automatic weapons and a national gun buyback was implemented.

Gun control advocates believes Australia’s ban has been a stunning success, with the example frequently cited after the Parkland school massacre in 2018.

The AR-15 used in the Texas school massacre is the weapon of choice for most mass shooters. (AP)

But many in America believe the opposite, according to David Smith from the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

“There’s all sorts of crazy misinformation claiming that Australian crime rates have skyrocketed and Australians are living in fear,” he told

“This is all just pure fantasy but it circulates through social media.”

The myth has been bouncing around the internet since the 1996 gun buyback, first via chain emails, then on social media.

“Australia has become this mythical example of what happens when a country gives up its guns,” Smith said.

“There are many Americans who believe Australia is a warning of what happens when guns are taken away.”

Semi-automatic guns number in the tens of millions in the USA. (AP)

Polling shows most Americans want greater restrictions on who can buy guns, and what guns can be sold.

But there has not been significant action on gun control nationwide since 1994, when a ban on semi-automatic rifles was enacted.

The bill, drafted in part by then-Senator Joe Biden, expired in 2000.

Since then the number of mass shootings has skyrocketed.

Smith said since the assault weapons ban, gun policy has changed dramatically in the US.

“For Republicans, guns are a symbol of resistance against the state,” Smith said.

“And for Republicans the ideal society is one where everybody is armed.

“Violence may happen, but if everybody is armed, the good guys will prevail.”

Texas will allow people to buy handguns without a licence, any training, or a background check.
Texas will allow people to buy handguns without a licence, any training, or a background check. (AP)

The symbolism of standing up against gun control means few Republicans will vote against any meaningful measure.

The legislation Democrats in Congress are most hopeful they can pass are mandatory background checks.

This would require gun sellers to verify a purchaser does not have a criminal history or violent mental health problems.

But such a rule probably would not have prevented the Uvalde school shooting.

“The gunman had just turned 18. He had gone and legally bought two rifles. Unless he had a criminal record or violent background, a background check would have done nothing,” Smith said.

“The gunman in Buffalo had passed a background check.”

Gun sales have surged in the USA during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gun sales have a history of surging after mass shootings. (Niko Kallianiotis)

Texas has some of the most lax gun laws in the United States, but even strict state laws concerning firearms could soon be overturned.

The US Supreme Court is considering whether to strike down a century-old New York law limiting who can carry a gun in public.

If it is struck down, it will create a precedent which could force the dismantling of state-based gun laws around the country.

Even if the United States government was capable of enacting an Australian-style gun buyback, implementing it would be a different issue.

“There are more than 70 million semi-automatic rifles in circulation,” Smith said.

“Any government that wanted to ban semi-automatics now would have to be worried about a violent backlash.”

The NRA has an enormous influence in maintaining America's famously lax gun laws.
The NRA has an enormous influence in maintaining America’s famously lax gun laws. (AAP)

In order to pass a bill through the Senate, 60 votes would be needed. Democrats currently have 50 votes.

They could technically pass the bill with a bare majority of 50 by overturning the filibuster rule.

But Joe Manchin, a Democrat who has touted his support for gun rights in his campaigning, has already ruled out doing away with the filibuster.

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