I've had the misfortune of meeting Walter Mikac AM.
Walter, the husband of Nanette and father of Alannah and Madeline, was playing golf on 28 April 1996 when his family, and 32 others, were horrifically gunned down by a deranged psychopath at Port Arthur.
He is a beautiful man, but I wish I'd never met him. Diminutive, attentive yet softly spoken, unassuming, and generous with his time even though he shuns the spotlight. Understandably, Walter rarely speaks at events nor attends memorials; he prefers it that way.
A charitable organisation he co-founded, and remains patron, was established in response.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation's most recognisable initiative are Buddy Bags which provide vulnerable children escaping trauma and violence with basic essentials.
As a result of the tragedy we, as Tasmanians, view gun violence and mass shootings through an unenviable lens. Further, we are very clear about how to limit such events ever happening again.
Former Prime Minister John Howard, with bi-partisan support, quickly legislated for stricter controls on semi-automatic weapons. Vision of the PM facing protesters, not before donning a bullet-proof jacket, still send shivers down the spine.
More than 23 years later, most Australians have zero inclination for change; with any movement towards liberalised gun laws met by outright condemnation.
Port Arthur left a scar on our psyche.
The New Zealand parliament did the same in the wake of the Christchurch shootings when 51 people lost their lives.
But not the United States of America.
US not for profit, Gun Violence Archive, which is often cited by the media, define mass shootings as when: 'four or more [are] shot or killed, not including the shooter'.
Therefore and incomprehensibly, there have been more mass shootings in 2019 (254) than days so far this year (220) as at 8 August.
Yet, there appears no end to the carnage.
The National Rifle Association (N.R.A.), self-promoted as a civil rights organisation, was founded in 1871 to inform its members, now approaching 5.5 million, about fire-arm related legislation.
N.R.A. members proselytise the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791): 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed'.
The Second Amendment is not without limits, even though most see it as an absolute right for self-defence and a freedom not to be impinged.
US politicians, perpetuating mistruths in desperation to blindly represent their constituents, interact with the powerful N.R.A., Super PACs, (Political Action Committees) and State and Federal governments; challenging any attempt to downgrade assault weapon access all the way to the Supreme Court, which is placed in the unenviable position of ruling on devoutly worshipped, yet absurdly misinterpreted, freedoms.
Thus, there is a revolving-door of failure when it comes to legislating against assault weapons.
However, it hasn't always been that way.
The 42nd President of the United States, W.J. (Bill) Clinton, for all his moral failures, was able to sign-off on a federal ban on the production of assault weapons and certain magazines from 1994-2004. (Brady Bill)
President Clinton achieved the ban with the support of former Presidents' Reagan, Ford and Carter.
He was also able to employ formidable persuasive skills in public appearances to gain support from the majority who assisted him to pile pressure on the legislature.
The consequence, not unsurprisingly, a reduction in the number of mass shootings. (Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery - January 2019)
Tragically, the ban had sunset provisions resulting in the legislation expiring in 2004. It wasn't reinstated by President George W. Bush, nor Barack Obama who attempted a permanent ban in 2013, (Feinstein Bill) following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, but was blocked by Republicans and many of his own party - the Democrats.
The solution can be found, in part , through an amnesty and buyback, extensive background checks, banning assault weapons for personal protection, banning large magazines, and licensing and training.
But although that may be the answer, it's not the problem.
Until the Supreme Court is able to, again, narrow its rulings on the Second Amendment and focus on original intent: A well regulated Militia (modern army), gun control in the current political climate appears doomed.
Gut-wrenchingly, there are thousands of Walter Mikacs in the US whose heartache recurs because those who can just won't hear them.