×

Former Australian PM warns US on gun control

The issue of gun ownership rights was inherently related to the fight against extremism, warned former Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Tuesday.

"There's no good pretending these issues don't relate," the 76-old said on the sidelines of the annual JPMorgan Global China Summit in Beijing.

Howard, who served as Australia's prime minister from 1996 to 2007, is widely known for his fierce stance on the possession of firearms. He introduced strict national gun control laws following the 1996 Port Arthur shooting in Tasmania in which 35 people died.

The decision to enforce total prohibition on automatic and semi-automatic weapons back then drastically reduced the number of mass shootings and the likelihood of them occurring in the future, Howard told CNBC.

In the U.S., the Second Amendment of the Constitution has been interpreted as granting the right of gun ownership to individuals for purposes that include self-defense but recent episodes of violence have prompted some lawmakers to question revoking that right.

Mourners gather under an LGBT pride flag in San Diego, California, during a candlelight vigil in remembrance for mass shooting victims in Orlando, June 12, 2016.
Mike Blake | Reuters
Mourners gather under an LGBT pride flag in San Diego, California, during a candlelight vigil in remembrance for mass shooting victims in Orlando, June 12, 2016.

Such a constitutional guarantee was "perplexing," Howard said.

"I would never presume to lecture another country...[but] I hope out of this horrible event that there is that debate, but I also respect the fact that America is different from Australia," he continued, referring to the recent deadly shootings in Orlando, Florida that claimed 49 lives.

"When something like this happens, the most important thing is to call it as it is. Obviously the ready availability of weapons is a big issue, obviously Islamic fanaticism is a big issue...[and] the intolerance of those against different lifestyles."

—Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.