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Teresa Cebrian Aranda
Teresa Cebrian Aranda
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Canada unveiled legislation this week that would freeze new handgun purchases and create a mandatory buyback program for semi-automatic rifles. The announcement coincided with the funerals for 19 victims of the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, but it was years in the making. Nick Schifrin reports on how other nations responded to their own mass shootings.
Earlier this week, Canada unveiled new legislation that would freeze new handgun purchases and create a mandatory buyback program for semiautomatic rifles.
The announcement coincided with the funerals in Uvalde, but it was years in the making, and an example of how countries around the world have responded to their own mass shootings.
What happened in Nova Scotia this past weekend is every community's worst nightmare.
It was the deadliest shooting in Canadian history. In April 2020, 22 people were shot to death in Nova Scotia, including police Constable Heidi Stevenson, who died trying to protect her community.
Canada had suffered previous gun tragedies and had previously tightened its gun laws. But the Nova Scotia massacre led to an immediate ban on military-style rifles and further restrictions announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week.
Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister:
What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada.
The new legislation also forces owners of military-style rifles to turn them in for destruction.
That move echoes reforms made in 2019 by New Zealand. For the city of Christchurch, March 16 was a day of mourning. Residents laid mountains of flowers near two Muslim worship centers where a lone gunman the day before had walked inside and killed 51 people as they prayed.
For Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, it was a call to action.
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand: I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change.
In fewer than four weeks, Parliament debated and passed a bill banning most semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines. A mandatory buyback program offered money for banned guns. Anyone who kept them went to jail.
Just yesterday, Ardern spoke to President Biden about gun safety.
I also reflected on our experience with gun reform, but it is just that. It is our experience. I'm sure that the likes of Australia, who we used their experience, would equally be open to doing the same.
John Riddell, News Anchor:
But, first, a scene of horror hum carnage and the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur tonight.
In 1996, Australian TV show the aftermath of a horrific massacre in a town known for tourism. A gunman armed with two rifles killed three dozen people. It became known as one of Australia's darkest days.
Rebecca Peters, International Gun Control Advocate:
It was really shocking; 35 people were killed, which at the time was the largest of these types of shootings ever in the world.
And because it was a holiday destination, people were killed and injured from every state in Australia.
It's time for tough, tough gun laws.
Rebecca Peters is an expert on international gun control who led the campaign to reform Australia's gun laws.
We used to have in Australia a mass shooting about once a year. Our two major parties were both intimidated by the gun lobby, which had said whichever party moves to strengthen the gun laws, we will campaign against them in an election.
But conservative Prime Minister John Howard had just been elected and didn't feel those fears. Within days, he announced sweeping reforms and rallied the nation for tighter gun control.
Australia's Parliament passed the National Firearms Agreement. It banned semiautomatic rifles and shotguns, established a registry of all guns in the country, and created more strict background checks. And a one-year national mandatory buyback program seized and destroyed 650,000 guns.
Our politicians somehow just stood up and said, we're going to be grownups. And both parties agreed. It was really critical to have bipartisan support. And so I think it was kind of a rare moment of integrity for our members of Parliament.
What was the impact of the gun laws passed after Port Arthur?
Well, it's been a very dramatic impact. We didn't have another mass shooting for 25 years.
We still have things go wrong, but we have much lower levels of gun violence, and also a higher level of confidence. Australians never — it never occurs to us that we might get murdered. And we don't have metal detectors going into schools.
School shootings in Britain are also largely unthinkable since the 1996 tragedy in the Scottish town of Dunblane. Parents rushed the Dunblane primary after a gunman carrying four handguns shot dead a teacher and 16 children.
I'm just in a state of shock. It seems unreal. I can't even understand anyone do anything like this.
Over the next few years, the British passed increasingly strict laws that eventually banned all but the smallest-caliber handguns.
Today, Britain's gun homicide rate is point 0.7 per million, one of the lowest in the world. The U.S. rate is 38 times the U.K.'s. So far this year, the U.S. has suffered at least 225 mass shootings.
President Joe Biden:
But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?
Mark Stone, Sky News:
So, why does this only happen in your country?
Last week, Sky News' Mark Stone challenged Texas Republican Ted Cruz.
Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):
You know, I'm sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful.
I think this aspect of it.
Sen. Ted Cruz:
You know what? You have got your political agenda. And God love you.
No, it's honestly…
And so it appears these tragedies will remain uniquely American.
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Nick Schifrin is the foreign affairs and defense correspondent for PBS NewsHour, based in Washington, D.C. He leads NewsHour's foreign reporting and has created week-long, in-depth series for NewsHour from China, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Cuba, Mexico, and the Baltics. The PBS NewsHour series "Inside Putin's Russia" won a 2018 Peabody Award and the National Press Club's Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence. In November 2020, Schifrin received the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Arthur Ross Media Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs.
As the deputy senior producer for foreign affairs and defense at the PBS NewsHour, Dan plays a key role in helping oversee and produce the program’s foreign affairs and defense stories. His pieces have broken new ground on an array of military issues, exposing debates simmering outside the public eye.
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