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Gun control in Pakistan

19 April, 2015

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Should we, in Pakistan, learn some lessons from Australia’s effective gun control law? In 1996, a massacre took place at Port Arthur, Australia, when a mentally unstable man killed 35 people. This made for one of the biggest shootings committed by a single person, triggering countrywide debate and commotion in Australia.

Australia’s then prime minister, John Howard, forcefully enforced strict gun laws which restricted all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. Moreover, the Australian government introduced a buyback policy where personally-owned firearms were purchased from owners and destroyed. The result was that about half a million firearms were destroyed, halving the total number of firearms and, according to a survey, homicides fell by 59 per cent.

Today, the estimated total number of guns, both legal and illicit, held by civilians in Pakistan is 18 million. If the destruction of 0.5 million firearms is converted in equivalent terms to Pakistani statistics then, by a conservative estimate, at least four million firearms will be destroyed. Any further ignorance on such matters can have dire consequences.

Sana Abdul Khaliq

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