Re "Way beyond the 'tipping point' on mass murders" (Editorials, Dec. 18) and "Mass shooting in Australia provides gun control lesson" (Viewpoints, Dec. 18): The Bee editorial and accompanying column both make reference to the fact that Australia bought back more than 600,000 semi-automatic rifles after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Oremus goes on to accurately describe the effectiveness of Australian gun control laws and the fact that there have been no subsequent mass shootings in Australia.
Both articles, though, omit an important point. The semi-automatic rifles that Australia bought back had been made illegal by laws passed shortly after the Port Arthur massacre. Handguns were already illegal. Gun buyback programs in the United States have been largely ineffective because most of the people who turn in their old guns use the buyback money to buy newer, more lethal ones.
-- Bill Durston, Gold River