Other Countries Have Ended Gun Violence — These Are the Strategies They Used

Jacinda Aldern

Getty Images

There’s a clear solution to mass shootings…

Just under a decade since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, at least 19 children and two adults were killed on Tuesday, when a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. In the time that has passed between these two unspeakably awful events, Congress has not passed a single piece of federal gun legislation.

The fact that there was no decisive action in the years after Sandy Hook (or even after the Columbine shooting, which took place years earlier) was incredibly saddening. That it has been a full 10 years since that event, and still nothing has happened to prevent this entirely preventable event, is unacceptable — particularly given all the evidence we have that strict gun legislation in other countries is an extremely successful tactic against gun violence.

On March 15, 2019, a 28-year-old white man entered a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayer. He released fire at one mosque, then went to a second mosque and did the same. Within a matter of 30 minutes, he had killed 51 people and injured 40 others. He was arrested as he was driving to a third mosque, where he would have killed more.

Seven days after the event, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a sweeping, nation-wide ban on semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and more. In the three years since, New Zealand has witnessed no mass shootings.

Hours after news of the Uvalde school shooting broke, Ardern spoke to Stephen Colbert. She said, “When I watch from afar and see events such as this today, it’s not as a politician. I see them just as a mother. I’m so sorry for what has happened here.”

Colbert asked her why it was so apparently easy for New Zealand to enact such swift change following their country’s mass shooting. Ardern replied, “We saw something that wasn’t right and we acted on it, and I can only speak to that experience. When we saw something like [Christchurch] happen, everyone said ‘Never again,’ and so it was incumbent on us as politicians to respond to that.”

She continued, “Now, we have legitimate needs for guns in our country, for things like pest control and to protect our biodiversity — but you don’t need a military-style semi-automatic to do that.”

Two other countries experienced a mass shooting and acted decisively and swiftly in response. In doing so, these countries effectively ended mass gun violence — here’s how.

The Dunblane Massacre in Scotland Led to a Near-Complete Ban of Private Gun Ownership in the United Kingdom

On March 13, 1996, a 43-year-old white man walked onto the campus of Dunblane Primary School in the town of Stirling, Scotland, with four legally-owned handguns, two pistols and two revolvers, along with over 700 cartridges of ammunition. He walked into the gymnasium, where 28 children were preparing for a gym lesson with three adult staff members. Hamilton released fire. By the end of the day, 16 children and one adult were dead. (17 others were critically injured.)

The Dunblane massacre remains, to this day, the deadliest mass shooting in British history — in part because two Firearms Acts were passed immediately after the event, following a public outcry over the tragedy. Specifically, these two acts outlawed private ownership of nearly all guns across the United Kingdom.

A Mass Shooting in Tasmania Led to a Complete Ban on Assault Weapons & Military-Style Guns in Australia

On April 28, 1996, a 29-year-old white man walked through a tourist area at a former colonial prison in Tasmania, Australia, and began to fire randomly through the crowd with military-style weapons. He’d purchased the weapons without a background check. In a short period of time, Bryant had killed 35 people.

Within two weeks, the Australian government passed a National Firearms Agreement law that limits licensing and ownership controls for guns. Additionally, the nation banned all semi-automatic and military-style weapons. As a result, Australia has not experienced a single mass shooting in over 25 years.