Seven people died because of gunshot wounds in the tourist town of Margaret River in Southwestern Australia on Friday, in what the police are saying is the worst mass shooting in the country in the last 22 years.
The dead included four children and is the worst since the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. The police found the dead bodies along with two guns at a rural property in the village of Osmington, Western Australia.
Nobody is suspected of the killings yet, the SMH reported.
Western Australia state Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said, "Police are currently responding to what I can only describe as a horrific incident. This devastating tragedy will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community and, in particular, the local communities in our southwest."
A mass shooting is defined as five people killed excluding the perpetrator. The last mass shooting under that definition happened in 1996 when Martin Byrant murdered 35 people and seriously injured a further 23 with a semi-automatic rifle.
This massacre led to the Australian government passing strict gun control laws, which have been successful in preventing any mass shootings in the 20 so years since. The Australian gun laws were even praised by former US President Barack Obama too.
However, there have been instances of multiple killings by firearms. In 2014, a man named Greg Hunt killed his wife and three children in Lockhart, NSW, before turning the weapon on himself. In 2015, in a suburb of Adelaide, a man named Donato Corbo shot and killed three people and injured three others, including two police officers who had arrived on the scene.
The Gun control laws in Australia allow farmers to have a gun because they have a legitimate need to use them to kill feral pests and predators or sick or injured livestock. But automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are completely banned from public ownership.