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Julie Bishop offers the U.S. advice on gun law reform

The Australian government has offered the U.S. advice on gun law reform following the tragic shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 dead and over 500 injured.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Australia could “share its experience” with the changes in policy enacted after the mass killing that took place in Port Arthur 1996.

“You will recall that John Howard then introduced national gun laws, which banned automatic and semiautomatic weapons and included a national buyback scheme. We have had this experience. We acted with a legislative response,” Bishop said, adding that it was ultimately up to U.S. lawmakers and legislators to deal the issue.

After Port Arthur, in which a lone gunman killed 35 people, the Australian government bought back and destroyed around 600,000 guns and there hasn’t been a mass shooting here since.

For contrast, in the 18 years before Port Arthur, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings.

The country has just finished another gun amnesty too, with more than 26,000 guns surrendered in a three-month period leading up to September 30.

Australia’s gun reform has been a massive success but some believe it wouldn’t work in the U.S. They say America has a much larger population, a lot more guns and a culture built upon “the right to bear arms.” Taking those guns away could lead to widespread civil unrest, or worse yet, another civil war.

It doesn’t help that America’s National Rifle Association (NRA) is also deeply embedded in American politics, giving money to Republicans and effectively blocking gun legislation.

At this point, the U.S. government has shown no sign of accepting Bishop’s offer or wanting to change. On the campaign trail, U.S. President Donald Trump made it clear he supported the Second Amendment and in April he gave a speech at the NRA proclaiming himself a friend to gun owners.

“You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners,” Trump said. “No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans. Instead, we will work with you, by your side.”

It’s hard to imagine the U.S. ever doing something similar to the Australian government regarding guns. But you can be sure that the example of Australia will be trotted out again the next time – and there will be a next time – a mass shooting occurs on U.S. soil.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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