Australia to US: Here's how to get tough on gun control

After the recent Las Vegas shooting that took the lives of at least 59 people, the topic of gun control and what needs to be done about it continues to come up. Josh King has the story (@abridgetoland).

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is offering to share with the United States her country's two decades of experience with gun law reform that dramatically lowered gun violence deaths.

Australia credits stricter gun control laws enacted after a massacre in Port Arthur in 1996 for a dramatic fall in gun violence.

Bishop was asked on Tuesday if, in light of the Las Vegas massacre, she felt she could raise the issue of U.S. gun laws with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"I have no doubt that a debate will be raised again about United States gun laws," the foreign minister told the Sunrise morning show on Australia's Seven Network. "Each state has different laws. What Australia can do is share our experience after the mass killing in Port Arthur back in the late 1990s when 35 people were killed by a lone gunman."

"(Y)ou will recall that (then-prime minister) John Howard then introduced national gun laws which banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons and included a national buy back scheme," she added. "So we have had this experience. We acted with a legislative response and it will be up to U.S. lawmakers and legislators to deal with this issue."

She delivered a similar message on four morning news programs.

Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten, reflecting bipartisan support over the issue, said Tuesday that he is grateful for Australia's tough gun restrictions.

“Thank God for our gun laws and heaven help anyone who wants to weaken these gun laws because they will have to come through me and the Labor Party,” Shorten told the The Sydney Morning Herald. “There (are) a lot of very good things about America, but we don’t want their gun laws.”

Australia concluded a three-month national gun amnesty last month in which people turned over more than 26,000 unregistered, illegal or unwanted firearms to local authorities without facing a penalty or prosecution, according to the minister of justice.

Outside the amnesty period, possession of an unregistered firearm carries a fine of up to $280,000 in Australian dollars ($220,000 in U.S. currency) and up to 14 years in jail.

Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, who was charged with selling the tough gun laws to regional Australia two decades ago, told Sky News that he could not rule out any future Australian massacre, "but we have had 21 years since Port Arthur without a mass shooting."

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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