Summer Olympic Games 1996 – 2012
Australia won its first Olympic gold medals in 1996, just as new gun control laws were to be introduced, in response to the Port Arthur massacre. The gun lobby immediately took the opportunity to claim that the medals would never be repeated, but Australia has had more success in the last twenty years than in the century before the legislation.
In fact, there is no link at all between gun laws and medals. China leads by a huge margin despite a ban on private gun ownership. Switzerland, with its famously liberal policies, was once among the best Olympic nations, but has claimed just two medals since 1968.
A telling comparison is between two neighbouring countries of a similar size, Serbia and Bulgaria. Serbia has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world and a culture which valorises aggression, for example by firing machine guns into the air to celebrate.
Bulgaria has a rather different gun culture. It enjoys hunting and sport shooting but it is common for the guns to remain at the range when not being used. Gun ownership is low.
Overall, the medal race between them is very close but Bulgaria has victory in its sights.
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