The recent mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has once again triggered a heated debate on gun control and laws across the US. Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school leaving 17 dead. Students and parents have also urged President Donald Trump to ‘protect school children from the scourge of gun violence’. This is not the first time that the US has seen mass shootings. In October last year, 50 people were killed after 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd in Las Vegas.
Here are a few countries which put gun laws into immediate effect after mass shootings.
“Hungerford must be a bit of a mess. I wish I had stayed in bed.” Michael Ryan is claimed to have said while negotiating with the police after killing 16 and injuring 15 in Hungerford town. Starting with his mother, Ryan went about town, 60 miles from West London, shooting people and animals at sight on August 19, 1987. After the massacre, Ryan took refuge in the John O’Gaunt Community Technology College where after negotiating for more than one hour with the police, took his own life.
UK follows the Firearms Act which, was introduced in 1920 and the law was amended within a year of the Hungerford massacre in 1988 prohibiting semi-automatic rifles, short shotguns, self-loading rifles and more. Few other firearms were made available on possessing a firearm certificate.
Two new laws were further passed in 1997 after the Dunblane school massacre on March 13, 1996. Thomas Hamilton made his way inside the Dunblane Primary School and randomly fired his gun, killing 16 children and one teacher and injuring 32. After taking 17 lives, Hamilton entered the gymnasium of the school and shot himself with another gun.
In 1997, tougher gun laws were introduced banning possession of almost all private handguns.
In 1996, Martin Bryant went to Port Arthur, a tourist spot, sat down at Broad Arrow Cafe and went on a shooting spree after having a meal. From Port Arthur to its roadway, Bryant claimed 35 lives and left 23 wounded.
Going down as the deadliest mass shooting in the history of Australia, the then Prime Minister John Howard put in place the National Firearms Act (NFA) as the first gun law in the country. The law was passed within two weeks of the massacre putting strict control on the distribution of semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons and mandated licensing. A national firearm registry was thereafter maintained and a buyback provision was included for weapons that were once legal and with the enactment of the law, were made illegal. The buyback provision led to the purchase of 650,000 firearms from the people.
Bryant is serving 35 life sentences without parole.
Seventeen-year-old Tim Kretschmer entered the Albertville school, Winnenden in the morning of March 11, 2009, fired 60 rounds and killed nine children and a teacher in half an hour. Fleeing from the scene, Kretschmerv claimed another seven lives on his way to Winnenden where, he shot himself in the head.
Two separate shootings had taken place before the Winnenden shooting in 2002 and 2006. In 2002, Erfurt school saw the killing of 13 staff members, two students and one police officer. Robert Steinhäuser, 19, had been expelled from the school earlier to the shooting and after killing 16 people, he shot himself. It is said that before taking his life, Steinhäuser came to face one of his teachers in the school hallway. The teacher asked the gunman to shoot him, to which Steinhäuser replied “Mr. Heise, that’s enough for today.”
Germany had gun laws since 1945 and with each shooting, the Weapons Act was made stringent. Age was increased for buying licensed guns after the 2002 school shooting and police was instructed to inspect the homes of people possessing gun for verification purposes after the 2009 school shooting.
Gun laws already in place, in 2011 an extremist Anders Behring Breivik bombed central Oslo killing eight people and approximately an hour later, reached Utoeya dressed as a police officer for a summer camp organised at Utoeya island. On reaching the island, Breivik opened fire at 600 teenagers claiming 68 lives.
The Norwegian gun laws were made tighter post the shooting mandating purchasers to mention a valid reason to buy a gun and obtaining a government license.