The acting United States ambassador has praised former prime minister John Howard for tightening Australia’s gun laws, and pointed out their effectiveness in reducing mass shootings, in the wake of Monday night’s carnage in Las Vegas.
Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday morning, Charges d’affaires Jim Carouso said the murder of at least 60 people – the US’s worst mass shooting – would kickstart another round of debate about US firearm control but pointedly drew a contrast with Australia’s success in stopping gun violence.
“When Prime Minister Howard after the Port Arthur massacre made the political decision that this must not stand, he took incredible flack. He had to wear body armour is my understanding, for months after that. But he carried it through,” Mr Carouso said.
He said the US was “still having that debate”, including about the meaning of the Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms but dates back to 1791 and is premised on the fact that a “well-regulated militia” is needed to secure a free state.
Mr Carouso said he didn’t know how that debate would turn out.
“It’s a very, very difficult problem that we’ve been wrestling with for years and years … Every time one of these things happens, US analysts always point to what happened in Australia and point out that your murder rate with guns has gone down drastically. You haven’t had a repeat of this sort of mass murder other than the Lindt Cafe event.
“So I think certainly a lot of observers in the US look to the Australian example.”
Mr Carouso described the Las Vegas shooting as “horrific”.
“This is a single individual who is…