In an op-ed, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) advocated for the United States to adopt strict gun control laws and used Australia as an example of a country that achieved that goal following a mass shooting in 1996.
In the piece, Derrick Johnson argues how “gun safety is about freedom”:
— NAACP (@NAACP) March 6, 2018
“Decades later, fear and terror still exist in our children’s classrooms,” Johnson writes. “Due to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the politicians that support them, meaningful discourse on the issue of gun control is nearly impossible, and in that silence, school shootings from Sandy Hook to Parkland keep the classroom a battleground, not a place of learning.”
Laws that the NAACP has advocated for include “banning military-style, semi-automatic assault guns,” and “enacting tough, new criminal penalties for straw purchasers”:
Given the disproportionate damage gun violence is having on our communities, the NAACP has advocated for sane, sensible laws, to help eliminate or at least to decrease the damage and death caused by gun violence. Requiring universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers, banning military-style, semi-automatic assault guns, enacting tough, new criminal penalties for straw purchasers and gun traffickers, and allowing the Center for Disease Control to research gun violence as a major public health issue are just a few of the reasonable steps lawmakers could take to stem the tide of gun related deaths in neighborhoods across the nation.
To bolster his argument, Johnson points to how Australia dealt with guns:
In the past 20 years, Australia has proven that sensible reform can prevail over partisan divides and high rates of gun ownership. In the spring of 1996, Australia faced the deadliest mass shooting in its history when a 28-year-old man opened fire at a tourist resort in Tasmania, killing 35 and wounding 23 with a semi-automatic rifle. Following the massacre, the party in power—the center-right Liberal coalition—surprised the country and world by joining with groups across the political spectrum to implement a radical intervention on gun violence. Over the course of mere months, the Australian government bought and destroyed over half a million firearms, banned automatic and semiautomatic weapons, created a national firearms registry, and enforced a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases.
“Australia’s success story is an example for us all. America will remain a deadly nation for our children, its schools caught in the crossfire, unless we insist politicians and the NRA curb their lobbyist efforts and allow the creation of policy that acts in the best interests of public safety,” he added.