A new report has revealed that the rate of mass shootings in Australia dropped to zero following the implementation of strict gun laws. The number of deaths caused by firearms declined since 1997, when the reforms were brought into effect.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on 22 June, shows a steady decline in gun-related violence since laws were made stricter following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in which 35 people were killed.
"The results are clear. Gun deaths are a problem amenable to reduction like any other public health problem," said Simon Chapman, a professor at the University of Sydney's School of Public Health and lead author of the study.
He added, "International differences in rates between countries show this. The United States has the worst record of gun deaths of any [Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development] nation, exceeded only by that in chaotic nations with massive law and order problems."
The report, which was based on records from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and news articles referring to shootings between 1979 and 2013, also indicates a steady drop in other firearm related fatalities. Gun suicides declined by an average of 4.8% per year, and gun-related homicide dropped by an average of 5.5% per year, according to the research.
The results were based on the definition of mass shootings being those involving five victims or more being killed. In the US, a "mass killing" is defined as an incident resulting in three or more deaths.
The research results come in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando where 49 people were killed has put in to question the US's stagnant position on gun control. "If we had stronger laws, we'd have fewer gun problems," David Hemenway, professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health said.
"But the key thing in Australia is that this was done by a conservative leader (John Howard)," he added. "One would have hoped that after the Newtown or Orlando killings that a conservative legislator would have stepped up and said 'we have to do something,' but they really haven't."
According to CNN, one third of the world's mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 took place in America. However, the study also showed a decline in non-firearm related violence since the reforms were brought into effect and gun lobbies will be keen to focusing on this aspect.
NRA (National Rifle Association) spokesperson Jennifer Baker said, "The study did not find a statistically valid relationship between the gun 'reforms' and the homicide rate and concludes that the impact of the gun 'reforms' cannot be estimated because suicides and homicides from all causes began decreasing before the gun ban and confiscation program was in place."