Julie Bishop says Americans can learn from our gun experience

The Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Photo: Getty
The Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Photo: Getty

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AUSTRALIA can help the United States reform its gun laws but Americans have to choose change for themselves, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says.

Ms Bishop has offered to help the US after the deadliest mass shooting in its history: 59 dead and 527 wounded by a lone Las Vegas gunman armed with an arsenal of high-powered weapons.

The foreign minister spoke overnight to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson but would not say if he’d expressed any frustration about the repeated, bloody gun massacres in his country.

But she did say Australia had plenty of knowledge to share after gun control reforms sparked by the Port Arthur massacre, when Martin Bryant used a rifle with a 30-shot magazine and a semi-automatic weapon to murder 35 people and wound 23 others.

“What we can offer is our experience,” the Member for Curtin told the Seven Network.

“Under John Howard, we implemented the national firearms agreement – this prohibited semi-automatic and automatic weapons. We had that national gun buyback scheme. We can share our experience.

“But at the end of the day it’s going to be up to the United States legislators and law makers, and the United States public, to change the laws to ensure this type of incident doesn’t happen again.”

Former foreign minister Bob Carr was more savage, saying every Republican enjoys the endorsement of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and “living with mass shootings is a political choice”.

“Europe and Australia made a different choice: respect for life above right to universal gun ownership,” he tweeted.

Speaking after the attack, Republican President Donald Trump said his nation was searching for “some kind of light in the darkness” while lamenting that “answers do not come easy”.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was too soon for political debate, and the facts must be established first.

Any debate will be very difficult for the president, who has regularly defended Americans’ right to bear arms and in April used a speech to the NRA to declare that an eight-year assault on gun ownership rights had come to a crashing end.

While the president was speaking of grief and mourning, and the search for light, the woman he kept out of the White House was beating the drum for change.

“Our grief isn’t enough,” Hillary Clinton tweeted on Monday.

“We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA and work together to try to stop this from happening again.”

Other’s are also demanding change.

“It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something,” said US Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where 26 young children and educators were killed in an attack on a school in 2012.

House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, on Monday called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to create a select committee on gun violence.

“Congress has a moral duty to address this horrific and heartbreaking epidemic,” Pelosi wrote.