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Ideas and Opinions |

The Tragic Events of April 1996

Jack Coulehan, MD, MPH
[+] Article and Author Information

From the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York.


Acknowledgments: The author thanks Professor Norelle Lickiss for her support and friendship, and for telling the story of the tragic events of 1996. Thanks are also due to Dr. Paul Glare, Dr. Kristen Turner, and the faculty and staff of the Institute for Palliative Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, University of Sydney; Dr. Stan Goulston and Mrs. Jean Goulston; and the author's wife, Anne Coulehan.

Requests for Single Reprints: Jack Coulehan, MD, MPH, Department of Preventive Medicine, HSC L3-086, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8036.

Requests To Purchase Bulk Reprints (minimum, 100 copies): the Reprints Coordinator; phone, 215-351-2657; e-mail, reprints@mail.acponline.org.


Ann Intern Med. 2000;132(11):911-913. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-132-11-200006060-00010
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In the early 19th century, Port Arthur, Tasmania, was the site of a notorious prison in a land at the end of the world. In 1996, Port Arthur was also the site of the worst mass murder in modern Australian history. A gunman with a semiautomatic weapon stepped into a tourist coffee shop and systematically shot dead 35 men, women, and children. Throughout Australia, an outpouring of grief, shame, and anger followed this tragic event and led quickly to more stringent gun control legislation. Several years later, Australians still remember the mass murder at Port Arthur with shame and horror as a personal affront, rather than simply a historical event. In the more violent society of the United States, many Americans perceive themselves as helpless victims or detached observers, rather than as persons who are responsible for promoting change.

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