Hillary on Australia gun ban: It’s ‘worth lookin’ at’

Hillary on Australia gun ban Its 'worth lookin’ at'

Hillary Clinton, seen here furniture factory in Keene, New Hampshire, gave more than a nod to Australia’s gun ban and surrender program this week. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Speaking to a New Hampshire crowd, Hillary Clinton expressed an open mind to a similar firearms ban and turn-in program such as the one in Australia in 1996.

In front of a crowd of 250 on the Keene State College campus on Friday, would-be Democratic nominee for President in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a nearly two-minute response to a question on Australia’s firearms crackdown in 1996.

When asked by an audience member, “Australia managed to get away or take away tens of thousands — millions — of handguns and in one year they were all gone. Can we do that and why, if we can’t, why can’t we?” Clinton was frank and off the cuff.

The Australian government as part of trying to clamp down on the availability of automatic weapons offered a good price for buying hundreds of thousands of guns and then they basically clamped down going forward in terms of having, you know, more of a background check approach, more of a permitting approach. But they believed and I think the evidence supports them that by offering to buy back those guns, they were able to, you know, curtail the supply and to set a different standard for gun purchases in the future.

In translating the Australian program to a U.S. version, Clinton compared it to the Cash for Clunkers, which offered vouchers towards new car purchases in return for getting old cars off the streets — but in a more one-sided approach.

Now communities have done that in our country. Several communities have done gun buyback programs but I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level if that could be arranged. Remember I know after the terrible ’08 financial crisis I think one of the programs that President Obama was able to get in place was Cash for Clunkers. Remember that? You know, getting them off the road and it was partly a way to get people to buy new cars because we wanted more economic activity and it was partly a way to get the old models that were polluting too much sort of off the road.

So I think that’s worth considering. I — I don’t know enough details to tell you what — how we would do it or how it would work but certainly the Australian example is worth looking at.

In 1996, Australia adopted the National Firearms Agreement following a mass killing known as the Port Arthur massacre, where a gunman killed 35 people and injured 24. The measure led to severe restrictions on firearms including an outright ban on most semi-automatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns.

During the enactment of the law, the government bought back nearly 700,000 surrendered guns, including a number that were made illegal due to the sweeping new gun law, which resulted in about a one-third decline in the number of guns nationwide.

Whether or not it had a positive affect is still up for debate (check out Australia’s crime stats since the ban here). The National Rifle Association was quick to respond to Clinton’s remarks in New Hampshire.

“This validates what the NRA has said all along. The real goal of gun control supporters is gun confiscation. Hillary Clinton, echoing President Obama’s recent remarks on the same issue, made that very clear,” said Chris Cox, executive director of The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action in a statement emailed to Guns.com.

Meanwhile, over the past 25 years and despite threats of increased regulation and a dearth of domestic firearms production, gun numbers in Australia have returned to pre-ban levels.