Australia’s New Gun Control Philosophy: Public Health is Paramount

Rebecca Peters and Roland Browne


As a pressing issue of public policy in Australia gun control remains very much alive, with the legislative response to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre marking a new beginning in regulating gun ownership. This paper argues that this regulatory framework reflects an important departure from the conventional ‘criminal justice’ approach to gun control towards a ‘public health’ response to gun violence. Prevention is the hallmark of public health and the key to a more rational gun control philosophy designed to reduce the likelihood of gun violence. In conjunction with broader efforts to better comprehend the factors leading to gun violence in Australian society, as well as the continuing exercise of strong political leadership, a public health approach to gun control may well deliver on its promise — a safer community.

Rebecca Peters and Roland Browne are, respectively, former Chair and Chair of the National Coalition for Gun Control.

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