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Australian Shooters Must be Licensed

Updated on November 30, 2014

One Step Too Far

Guns change one's perspective on life when disasters occur and irrational people lash out against society and murder anyone and everyone in their vicinity. This type of episode changed the gun laws in Australia and perhaps other countries should follow suit.

Animals are hunted and killed for game in Australia where feral animals are a major problem. Many shoot them down from the back of trucks, on horseback or from helicopters like a true cowboy. But they must be licenses hunters to do this.

Skillful shooters ensure animals suffer nothing but a clean shot that disposes of them instantly. They practice their aim and many enjoy competitions within sporting shooters clubs. They are now governed by strict laws, however, to wipe out radical and insane shooters who shocked the country with devastating massacres, one of which is detailed here.

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Port Arthur, Tasmania
Port Arthur, Tasmania

Port Arthur Massacre

The Shooting and aftermath

On 28th April, 1996, an enraged gunman, Martin Bryant, mowed down patrons in Port Arthur, a tourist attraction on the east coast of Tasmania near Hobart. They included a mother and her two young daughters, and 32 others who were killed outright. 21 people were wounded. The killer eventually holed up in a guest house with 2 hostages, a husband and wife, whom he shot and then set fire to it before being captured by police. He ran out with clothes blazing and suffering severe burns.

In 90 to 120 seconds he killed 20 people in the cafe and gift shop. He had entered it with a large bag and ate a meal before taking his gun out and opening fire randomly. His victims included men, women and children. His first victims were 2 visitors from Malaysia. In his first round of fire 12 people were dead and 10 were wounded. Then he moved to the Gift Shop where he opened fire again.

During that 120 seconds 29 rounds were fired in all.

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No One In his Sights Was Spared

The shooting continued

Bryant then moved to the car park which had many coaches packed with visitors in them, He chased and killed passengers, injured many more and stalked others.. Terrified many tried to hide in bushes, around the nearby jetty and elsewhere. Leaving the car park in his car he opened the door to a mother running away with her 2 girls, one 3 and one 8. He then shot her at point blank range before opening fire and killing the children.

By this time others in cars were backing away and one drove to a service station with Bryant in pursuit. He locked one man in the boot before killing his 20 year old girlfriend. he then passed other cars shooting at them, hitting some occupants, shattering their windscreens and so on. Finally he found his way to the guesthouse and it was then that 2 policemen arrived in separate cars. From 1.30 pm until 9 pm he held them at bay until they were finally able to be moved to safety in the cover of darkness and under the guidance of the Special Operations Group of the Tasmanian Police Force..

An 18 hour stand-off followed.

This was Australia's worst ever massacre and one of the deadliest such incidences globally. Australia was outraged and the Prime Minister, John Howard, wasted little time in passing new laws for gun ownership. The final tally for Port Arthur was 35 dead and 21 wounded.

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Did the government do the right thing?

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criminals still carry guns
criminals still carry guns

Australian Gun Licenses

Only sporting shooters need apply

To most Australians the sensible thing to do to stop further massacres, like that at Port Arthur, was to ban guns. It was not the most popular decision, however, among gun owners. It happened so quickly that there was not much time for debate or reaction.

A week or so after the massacre (May 5) the police ministers concluded that firearm ownership was not a right and self defense was not a valid reason to own firearms. On 10 May 1996 the gun program was comprehensive enough to be implemented immediately. More was added to it in July and November. State parliaments passed laws to fully implement the changes, but some changes were difficult to implement as disputes between them persisted. Tasmanian Guns Act 1991 were paraded as having given the police minister authority to require registration of certain semiautomatic center fire firearms. he thereby ordered this on May 7, 1996 (before the 10 May APMC meeting).

All pump-action shotguns and all semiautomatic firearms (even of .22 rim fire caliber) were banned from private ownership while the government opted to pay people to turn in such firearms for destruction over the course of the following year. It was funded from a year long increase in the "medicare" tax on the grounds that guns were a health hazard. The laws allowed professional shooters possession of a non-military semiautomatic long gun, or pump action shotgun, as long as the authorities could see a "genuine need." The same applied for an individual to possess a lesser firearm and defence of person, life or property was not a valid reason. (source of information:

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It Did Not Stop Crime

But it stopped shooting rampages like at Port Arthur

The media had a field day as shooters rose up against the government and a group actually formed "The Shooters Party" to put candidates into the next Federal election with the hope of getting a voice in Federal Parliament to overturn the laws. As the debate waged back and forth the gun hand-in program continued and night after night it was shown on television and in the media in general as guns were destroyed, their barrels were sawed in half and the rest was burned. It seems a dreadful waste but the governments were determined.

Now "Thirteen years after the ban/buyback there is now plenty of data from which to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures put in place. A lot of the peoples' money was spent buying firearms. A lot of Australians became alienated from their governments and institutions. Irrational fears of people unfamiliar with guns may have been eased. Gun accident deaths inexplicably rose. Robbery rates popped up for several years (until '04). There was no perceptible, definite impact-good or bad-on burglary, serious assault, homicide, gun homicide, suicide or gun suicide.

The gun controllers continued to do something similar regarding handguns, which rose in prominence since long guns had been reigned in. If handgun crime becomes less significant, some kind of handgun or long-gun crime will gain in significance and the gun controllers will target that category, and so on as long as there is a firearm." (cited

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Trap Shooting
Trap Shooting

Australian Target Shooters

The gun laws passed by all states

"Stringent laws enacted to protect the community govern the issue of a Shooters License. ATSC membership helps ensure that newcomers to this internationally popular sport understand the responsibilities involved, meet the strict conditions and facilitate obtaining their licence.

Australia's shooting champions are now in training for a place on the team for the next Commonwealth Games. There is an increasing awareness of Australia's preparations to continue its long sporting tradition of successful target shooting in international sport.

Australians have achieved great success in Olympic shooting in recent years and when the Commonwealth Games team is chosen, there will be increased interest among people who would like to enter the sport. ATSC will enable that interest to be realised." (source")

The Heat Died Down

People are now happy with the gun laws

While people the world over may have access to guns in Australia they are no longer available to just anyone. Unless you can prove you have a valid need for one, such as a farmer, rancher, or a member of a Sporting Shooters Club, you will have a hard time avoiding jail if your own a gun without a license.

But it is more than a sport to members as they get so much fun out of their membership and the interest in their activity leads many to travel overseas, preferably to America and the so-called wild west, to experience first hand the way others do it. They bring back a lot of clothes, gear and other things to add to their interesting get-ups. Boots, shirts, hats, gun holders, and the latest in fancy decorations can all be seen at a meet.

These activities are harmless and fill a need. They also demonstrate that the heat has gone out of gun control and that whenever and wherever people have a great hobby and an interest there can always be a solution. Of course guns owned by members have to be contained in a locked, secure safe at all times, except when in use on the range. If this law is broken the shooter not only looses his license but can even go to jail.

There have been cases recently where young kids have used their dad's firearms to shoot others, whether accidentally or deliberately. So the law has not stopped all illegal firearm usage,

Shooting is a Great Sport

The enthusiasm of people who enjoy this activity is amazing. They love their guns as though they are part of them and the work involved in reloading bullets for reuse is not something to be taken lightly.

Those who engage in it are to be welcomed by society as responsible citizens who know their stuff.

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Or any other weapons?

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Typical Cowboy Outfit
Typical Cowboy Outfit

The Gear that Sporting Shooters Wear

Cowboy gear is their favorite

From the top of his head to the tip of his toes the cowboy is decked out in western style gear that is often hard to come by. Traditionally a cowboy is an animal herder who rides the range on horseback and drives cattle to market. His clothes, like him, performs many duties and can take the rough and tumble of a hard day in the saddle, of protecting him from the sun, the heat, the cold, and parasites. He also required to have his guns handy for a quick draw in case of snakes, stampedes, and, as we often see in Western movies, of rustlers and thieves.

Many cowboys also compete in Rodeos to show off their riding and cattle handling skills. These participants must also be dressed in the right gear to play the part well.

In Australia there are many shooting clubs, rodeo exhibitions and cattle ranchers who demand and wear this type of gear. Many prefer the American authenticity of reproduced outfits which this merchant is famous for.


A Country Music Song - From a deaf cowboy

Get in the mood for this cowboy lens by listening to this remarkable artist.

What Would You Do?

Could you shoot another person if confronted?

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Still images from Dreamstime - click here

Children Can Start Young

This is one sport where it can benefit children in senior school to learn to shoot and to care for the society in which they live.

The Cowboy Way - The singer is deaf but what a voice.

© 2010 norma-holt


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Having seen massacres happening here in the UK, thankfully not very often, and what happens in other parts of the world, I do agree that a restriction on gun ownership may help reduce such crimes.

    • norma-holt profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: It take guts and a solid commitment but unfortunately politicians follow the public opinion and CEO more than common sense, I am aware of the outrage against gun control in the states and many more children and others will die before it is resolved, Thanks for the visit and comment. Hugs

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      We visited Port Arthur a few years before the shootings. As the news broke, I could picture the historic buildings and area and was horrified. I'm so glad the Australian government had the gumption to restrict guns after this. I find it hard to believe that the U.S. isn't doing the same.

    • Rangoon House profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      Martin Bryant's day at Port Arthur is one of those days where you will always remember where you were.

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 

      6 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Thanks for the feature on my women's western wear lens. My hats off to all lady shooters.

      Blessed by a Squid Angel**

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful lens. Having been to Australia several times I know that those who hunt make clean kills and do so with skill. Weapons of any kind as your story says it will get into the hands of the wrongdoer at one time or another. It is shameful that everyone has to suffer for the crimes of the few. Thanks for Featuring my lens here and the info. I'll have to return the favor as this compliments my lens well.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great informational gun law lens! I must say that I'm among those who feel gun laws are for the law-abiding citizens; law-breakers pay no attention to the laws. Thus, there seems little value to gun laws. It's a sad shame something cannot be done about the criminal element that seemingly has the need to kill others.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Firearm ownership is definitely a controversial subject. I am of mixed opinions on this. I believe that if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns. I also believe that firearms ownership creates a balance of power between citizens and government. The idea of only the government having access to firearms is frightening to me. That being said I also believe that some laws regarding firearms are necessary to keep the whole thing from spinning out of hand or from keeping people like Bryant from owning one. However people need to understand that only law abiding citizens abide by the laws. A good example is that shortly before I left the military I was offered a deal on two M16's, 10 30 round banana clips and 5000 rounds of ammo for a very good price. I of course passed on this, the point is that I could easily have to illegal automatic weapons in my possession if I had so desired. I was not aware of the stringent gun laws in Australia and this lens was very educational for me.

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 

      7 years ago

      Well deserved Purple Star.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      7 years ago

      Here the controversy now is how many bullets can be fired at one time. There used to be a law that said that clips couldn't contain more than 10 bullets. George Bush and the Cons repealed that. The recent Arizona shooting the man had 31 bullets when he stopped to reload he was taken to the ground. Had the old law been in effect some people might be alive today. However, there are people including Arizona Congress men who think the repeal was good.


    • CCGAL profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, thanks so much for including Cowboy Christmas in your lens here. I'm honored!

      I read this lens with interest - the massacre you wrote about sounded so much like one that we experienced here in Texas at a Luby's cafeteria some years back. I forget the exact details, but the Australia story reminded me of it. At any rate, because we have so much controversy here in America regarding gun control laws, I was quite interested in your story here. Thumbs up!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very well written and great presentation on this lens. What a horrible thing to have happen. Is shocking what can happen when someone goes over the edge. Thank you for featuring one of my lenses, I was surprised to see that. ~ Wow, what an article!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 

      7 years ago from USA

      Technically, it isn't the guns that commit the crime. Good people will do everything in their power to do what is right. In the US, it has been found that areas where there are gun laws usually have more crime. All the weapons bans and gun laws in the world do not prevent bad people from finding ways to illegally obtain them. This is a great source of information.

    • SidneyMorgan LM profile image

      SidneyMorgan LM 

      8 years ago

      For those thinking about visiting Australia for hunting or shooting this is an important lens to read first! I was aware of the strict policies but even I didn't know all these details. A wonderful gathering of information here that is very informative even if you don't want to go shooting!

    • burgessvillian profile image


      8 years ago

      I am not a shooter yet. Maybe in the future.

      In Canada there are strict laws, but still plenty of crime. Surprisingly in the U.S. the states with more lax laws seem to have less crime.

      Very interesting lens. We have had a few massacres as well and the gun laws don't help. Most criminals use illegal weapons and hunters pay the tab.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Shooting is a fabulous sport. I just have to wonder how many bad guys turned in their guns when they were banned. (Well done! Congratulations on the purple star!)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      Congratulations on the well deserved purple star!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      8 years ago from Iowa

      Congratulations on the purple star. This is an excellent lens it totally deserves it. :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congratulations on the Purple Star Award on this lens, Norma. Well done!


    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Congratulations on a well deserved purple star

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      Well, my opinions about the subject is... license for weapons and authorization only if indispensable for your job. But, I'm happy to live in Belgium where crime rate is lower than in many other countries and where weapons are forbidden.

      SquidAngel blessings for this well written page.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      Wow! A totally awesome article! The question of how much gun laws effect crime has been debated in the US for many years now, too. Regardless of my personal opinion about gun ownership, I have always detested the idea of punishing the many for the actions of the few. Angel Blessed and added to my Squid Angel Mouse Tracks lens.


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