The Halifax Explosion and Port Arthur Massacre: Testing Samuel Prince’s Ideas

August 2001 (VOL. 19, NO. 2)

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Samuel Henry Prince wrote that major catastrophes lead to change. Despite his status in the field, there have been few attempts to examine empirically Prince’s ideas about change. In this paper the authors describe a massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996 in which a man armed with automatic weapons killed 35 persons and injured 19 others. As a result of the massacre, changes occurred in Australian gun-control laws. The fallout from the massacre is examined in light of Prince’s thesis about change following catastrophes.