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Today On Sunday -

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(generated from captions) Americans to guns every year in this country.Denham filmed that story last year after the Tucson shooting and gun laws are so lax in America, nothing has changed since. They probably could learn a lot from our strict gun policy. Joining us from Chicago is CEO of the National Gun Victims Action Council in America, Elliot Fineman, whose own son was killed by a firearm. And Andrew Leigh who wrote the leading analysis on Australia's gun buyback program following the Port Arthur massacre. Welcome to you both. I might start with you, Elliot, you have lost your own son to guns. The question we're all asking here is how much longer can Americans hide behind that constitutional right to bear arms before real action is finally taken?Well, the difficulty is that you have a vocal rabid minority led by the leadership of the NRA that pushes for these extreme laws and blocks any sensible gun law that could be passed. The great majority of Americans want, over 100 million polls show, would want sane gun laws, as do many members of the NRA. But you- a corrupt leadership of the NRA whose only interest is mabsmising the sales of guns and -- maximising the sales of guns and they have compettive advantage against their main rival, the Bridey Organisation, that the Brady Group simply can't overcome the critical mass of the National Rifle Association. What's needed are new strategies and that's what our organisation has been introducing. Before we get in to what sort of strategies that your organisation is looking at, you've got to look at these stats. You say a minority of people are really after looser gun controls but America has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. 270 million guns, that's around one gun for every person. Compare that to Australia's three million guns. Then, it is no coincidence gun deaths in the States are 300 times higher than here in Australia. 9,000 compared to 30 in Australia. That can't bow a coincidence. A ban on guns is really what's needed, isn't it? Well, there's no question that the gun laws here are based on maximising sales rather than public safety, such as they are in Australia, search as they are in England, such as they are in most developed countries. The figure you give that's quoted one gun per person is a bit misleading. The actual breakdown is that the typical gun owner owns five or six guns. So you have about 35 million families or households that own guns and you have three or four times that amounts of households that do not have guns. Guns are declining in terms of demand. There are less hunters coming onboard. The young people by and large are not interested in guns. We don't even have a gun culture, even though that's a short hand way of describing what's here. We have a minority of vocal, bestowed, violent, if you will, aggressive minority that pushes all of this. And we simply have to change that. We have to overcome their momentum at this point.Aggressive indeed. I kaen believe there have already been suggestions perhaps this massacre could have been avoided if the teachers had been armed. Let's bring in Andrew now in Canberra. Andrew, Australia certainly had its fair share of mass shootings but the Port arlgter massacre was a huge turning -- Arthur massacre was a huge turning point?Yes. We had an average, a mass shooting every year leading up to Port Arthur. Since then, we haven't had a single one. That could just be a coincidence but the odds of that are less than one in 100. What happened was when we had a gun buyback and restricted gun ownership laws, we saw substantial drop in mass shootings. Mass shootings are a very small share of gun deaths. What we found was that the lives saifrbged as a result of John Howard's gun buy -- saved as a result of John Howard's gun buyback were largely reduced in gun suicides and gun homicides which were mostly domestic violence. If there isn't a gun in a home, when tempers fray, people are less likely to turn to the most lethal killing machine available.Do you think a buyback scheme would work in America?The challenge is you have to do something that's across the bore. The US has some experience with single cities that imp. All gun buybacks. They don't work very well because guns flow back in across the border. We do know what we did in Australia saved lives and a lot of them. Christine and I estimate something around the order of 200 lives a year were saved as a result of that 1997, 1998 gun buyback. Incredibly valuable public policy in making Australia safer. Before the buyback, around 15% of Australian households had guns. Afterwards, less than 10%. And that just meant there are fewer lethal weapons available. In the US, about a third of all households have guns. It's much easier for a troubled kid to get his hands on a lethal weapon.Andrew, what do you have to say about some suggestions perhaps teachers should be armed and that if they had been armed, this type of massacre could have been avoided?The simple answer is look at the statistics. We have a range of good studies here and so we don't have to go off theory or faith. We can just go off numbers. Countries or places with small guns tend to -- more guns tend to have a higher number of gun deaths. You'd like to think a gun could be used by good guys to defend against bad guys. That's not how the world works. I suspect most people didn't notice but in China there was a man who went into a school with a knife on Friday. Injuring, a stabbing frenzy, over 20 people students stabbed. No-one died. After the gun buyback, Australia saw mass stabings but we never again saw those mass shootings, Strathfield, Port Arthur, which were so common in the decade leading up to John Howard's gun buyback.Why any household would need an assault rifle which could fire off a hundred rounds in just a few minutes, who can explain that. We saw yesterday a clearly distraught President Barack Obama. He said in his speech that meaningful action is needed but despite the tears, we're not really likely to see this, are we?No. We're not likely to see it. If we do see it, it will be the wrong kind of meaningful action. I would like to comment for a moment about your question to Andrew regarding could the teachers armed have prevented this? The answer is a resounding no. It's the same reason that the fallacious belief that people need to carry guns for self-defence is a fiction. The reality is the element of surprise always trumps the gun carrier. That's why policemen in the US who carry guns all the time are ambushed and shot. 40% of all policemen that are killed by guns are killed during an ambush or a surprise attack. So there's not a prayer that the armed teachers could have done a thing. A mass killer bursts in shooting guns, shooting bullets as they burst in with two guns at a time. The idea an armed teacher could have done a single thing about that is ludicrous. So that's really an important thing and it's also equally ludicrous that a non- citizen walking around in public with a gun could do any better. -- an armed citizen walking around in public with a gun could do any better. This whole meme of self- defence is simply a fantasy.Yep. They say 34 people are dying every day that these gun laws aren't actually addressed in America. Thank you very much for joining us this morning. Big questions to be asked.Thank you.Over to you,