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US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy. Photo: Reuters

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull declines to offer Donald Trump advice on gun control after Florida mass shooting

The country has some of the world’s toughest laws, introduced after a gunman killed 35 people on the island state of Tasmania in 1996

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declined to offer US President Donald Trump any advice on gun control days after the latest mass shooting at a US school, despite Australia’s success in cutting gun violence.

Australia has some of the world’s toughest gun control laws, introduced after its worst mass murder, when a gunman killed 35 people at Port Arthur in the island state of Tasmania in 1996.

Australia has had no mass shootings since then.

But Turnbull, who met Trump for talks in Washington on Friday, said he was not going to offer the United States any advice on the issue, which is dividing Americans.

“It’s a completely different context historically, legally and so forth,” Turnbull told a news conference following talks in the White House, adding that he was satisfied with Australia’s gun control.

“We certainly don’t presume to provide policy or political advice on that matter here,” Turnbull said, according to a transcript of the news conference released by the prime minister’s office.

The issue of gun control in the United States became the focus of renewed debate on February 14, when a former student killed 17 people at school in Florida with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle he had bought legally.

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull held talks in Washington this week. But Turnbull refrained from offering policy advice on gun control amid public outrage in the US over another mass shooting. Photo: EPA

Australia has banned all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and has a restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls.

Australia’s system has been held up by many as an example of how gun controls in the United States should be tightened.

Trump has suggested arming teachers as a way of curbing gun violence in schools.

On bilateral relations, Turnbull said his meeting with Trump had “deepened” the relationship between the allies.

The two leaders discussed North Korea, with Turnbull expressing supported for US sanctions and economic ties.

Turnbull praised Trump’s recent tax cuts for businesses, something he is trying to replicate in Australia although he is struggling to gain the support needed from opposition parties.

Relations between the two got off to a rocky start in February 2017 when Trump berated Turnbull over a bilateral refugee agreement, before abruptly ending their telephone conversation, according to an leaked transcript of the call.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Turnbull holds fire on gun control