Australia on US gun laws: ‘What we can offer is our experience’

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las vegas shooting
Las Vegas Metro Police officers gather near the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. early October 2, 2017. Reuters/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop offered to help the United States reform its gun laws on Tuesday in light of the Las Vegas massacre. She was hoping to share her country's two decades of experience with gun law reform that resulted to lower deaths due to violence.

Bishop said that Australia can offer its experience. It can be recalled that in the late 1990s, lone gunman Martin Bryant, armed with semi-automatic weapons, killed 35 people in a mass killing in Port Arthur.

"But at the end of the day it's going to be up to the United States legislators and lawmakers, and the United States public, to change the laws to ensure this type of incident doesn't happen again,” Bishop said. The foreign minister was asked on Tuesday if she could raise the issue of US gun laws with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In “Sunrise” morning show on Australia's Seven Network, Bishop said she has no doubt a debate will again be raised regarding gun laws in the US. She also recognised that every state has different laws.

"You 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, according to USA Today. Australia, she said, has this experience, and it acted with a legislative response. As for the US, she maintained it is up to its lawmakers and legislators to handle the issue. Bishop delivered a similar message on other news programs.

Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten said on Tuesday that he is grateful for the tough gun restrictions here. He told Sydney Morning Herald that anyone who intends to weaken Australia’s gun laws will have to come through him and the Labor Party. He added there are a lot of good things about America, but he does not like its gun laws.

Tim Fischer, former deputy prime ministers, acknowledged that he could not rule out any future Australian massacre, but also told Sky News that “we have had 21 years since Port Arthur without a mass shooting." Last month, Australia concluded a three-month national gun amnesty that saw people turning over more than 26,000 unregistered, illegal or unwanted firearms to authorities. Possession of an unregistered firearm carries a fine of up to $280,000 and up to 14 years in jail outside the amnesty period.

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