February 24, 2018 / 5:25 AM / 9 months ago

Australian PM declines to offer Trump any advice on gun control

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

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands during a news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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 Feb. 14, when a former student killed 17 people at school in Florida with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle he had bought legally.

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 U.S. 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.

Reporting by Alana Schetzer; Editing by Robert Birsel

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