Shooting fires up former pollie

WARNING: Tim Fischer has called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to “muscle up” its travel warnings for the United States in the wake of the latest mass shooting there that left more than a dozen people dead.AUSTRALIA’S deputy Prime Minister at the time of the Port Arthur massacre, Tim Fischer, has bemoaned the United States’s gun laws in the wake of the latest mass shooting.

Mr Fischer, a former Riverina politician,called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to “muscle up” its travel advice for Australians headed to the US to include warnings about guns.

“You are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA per capita than in Australia,” Mr Fischer said.

He made the comment hours after 14 people were shot dead and another 21 wounded in a community centre in San Bernadino, California.

“The DFAT site is good, but it needs to muscle up for travel to the USA,” Mr Fischer said.“I simply make the point Australians should think carefully about their travel to the USA and where they go to within the USA because statistics show there have been 352 gun massacres so far this year involving four or more people.”

Mr Fischer said overseastravel warnings issued by the US Government after last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris had led to delegates cancelling plans to attend conferences in Australia.

“If they have muscled up their travel advice then it’s time we muscled up,” he said.

Mr Fischer was part of the agovernment that cracked down on gun ownership in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre which claimed the lives of 35 people in 1996.

“It was a difficult time,” Mr Fischer said.

“I will defend the rights of farmers and Wagga sporting shooters and Olympic shooters to have guns to use responsibly, but I equally feel the suburbs should be drained of automatic and semi-automatics.”

Riverina resident Diane Mortimer grew up about an hour away from San Bernadino and was shocked to hear of the massacre just a week or so after returning from a trip to the region.

Mrs Mortimer said she thought it a bit harsh to beef up travel warnings for her country of birth but is critical of the US gun laws, describing them as ridiculous.

“President Obama is on the right track and is doing all he can to reduce the number of guns, but the gun lobby is too strong and there is so much ignorance,” Mrs Mortimer said.

“There is nothing he can do and he knows it.

“I feel sad, and also I think, as Obama says, these massacres could be lessened if they had better gun control.”

Despite the grim statistics, Mrs Mortimer still regards the US as a safe place for visitors.

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