John Howard unloads with both barrels in US gun debate

FORMER Prime Minister John Howard has taken aim at the American gun debate, opening up both barrels during a television appearance about Australia's firearm laws.

Mr Howard said it was "incontestable" that gun deaths had fallen in Australia after his reforms were introduced following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre.

Speaking to Sunday Morning TV on CBS, the former conservative leader weighed in as Republican Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz ramped up their support for Americans owning guns.

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

"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 was all magically going to happen? Come on."

Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and current President Barack Obama have each suggested the United States consider following Australia's lead.

Mr Howard told the television program how he was told people felt their human rights were "violated" when their guns were taken away.

He said he would respond: "'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".

The show also heard from Australian pro-gun senator David Leyonhjelm, Port Arthur survivor Carolyn Loughton -- who lost her teenaged daughter in the massacre -- and Australian lawyer Greg Melick.

Topics:  editors picks john howard politics

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