John Howard Wades Into US Gun Debate Again

14/03/2016 11:56 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Australia's former Prime Minister John Howard has told a U.S. audience it is "incontestable" that gun-related homicides fell significantly after his government introduced strict laws in wake of the Port Arthur massacre.

As U.S. election candidates continue to debate whether or not gun reform is needed, Howard told CBS' Sunday Morning TV news program he was compelled to introduce strict gun control after 35 people were killed at Port Arthur in Tasmania in 1996.

"It is incontestable that gun-related homicides have fallen quite significantly in Australia, incontestable," Howard said.

He dismissed claims from critics that there is no evidence Australia's rate of gun deaths were affected by the change in gun laws.

"I mean, if you had 13 mass shootings before Port Arthur and you had none since, isn't that evidence?

"And you had a 74 per cent fall in the gun-related suicide rates, isn't that evidence?

"Or are we expected to believe that that was all magically going to happen? Come on."

john howard

"You had a 74 per cent fall in the gun-related suicide rates, isn't that evidence?" Howard put to the US TV program on Sunday.

Australia's gun laws took the form of a national buyback of weapons, and heavily regulated access and storage of firearms. Australians do not have a constitutional right to bear arms.

"People used to say to me, 'You violated my human rights by taking away my gun'," Howard said.

"And I'd (say), 'I understand that. Will you please understand the argument, the greatest human right of all is to live a safe life without fear of random murder'."

It is not the first time Howard has been called on by the U.S. media to comment on gun laws.

John Oliver Investigates Gun Control in Australia (Part I) from Melel Media on Vimeo.

John Oliver Investigates Gun Control in Australia (Part II) from Melel Media on Vimeo.

In January, Republican Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz falsely claimed the rate of rapes in Australia went up significantly since the gun laws were introduced.

Republican front runner Donald Trump has said he wants to eliminate gun free zones in schools.

Democratic hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have sparred over gun control measures at a recent debate, with Clinton calling for ending the gun show loophole.

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