Australians own just as many firearms now as they did before the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, a new study reveals.
The research by Professor Philip Alpers, from the Sydney University school of public health, says Australians have steadily restocked and the number of firearms in the community now stands around 3.2 million.
In the Port Arthur massacre, a deranged gunman shot dead 35 people and wounded another 23.
Then Prime Minister John Howard pushed through tough national controls, banning semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns and introducing more stringent licensing.
In the guns buyback, Australians surrendered more than 700,000 firearms.
Professor Alpers said Port Arthur was one of a series of gun massacres and overall more than a million guns were surrendered.
'What our research found was that a huge number of people gave in their guns for no compensation at all,' he said.
'These hadn't been added into the discussions. So a million guns were taken out of circulation and put into the smelter.'
Gun imports increased after 1996 as people replaced banned guns, then crashed, Prof Alpers said.
'Gradually for the past 10 years, they have been creeping up again.
But they are not the semi-automatics specifically banned after Port Arthur.
Prof Alpers said the buyback was a spectacular success and afterwards the risk of dying by gunshot halved.
The Australian Institute of Criminology homicide study shows gun murders have steadily declined from the late 1980s and now are far outnumbered by murders with knives.
Most gun deaths were from suicides and incidents of domestic violence, Prof Alpers said.
Only time would tell whether the increasing number of guns made Australia less safe.
'It may be a problem, it may be a serious one, it may not be too bad, but we have yet to see,' he said.