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May 28, 2017

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Australia leader says tough gun laws to be tightened further

CANBERRA--Australia's tough gun controls will be further tightened to restrict access to new rapid-fire shotguns, the prime minister said Wednesday.

But a pro-gun independent senator warned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the move will add to the government's difficulty in getting legislation through the Senate.

Turnbull was commenting on the fate of the Adler A110 shotgun, a Turkish-manufactured lever-action weapon that was banned from importation last year as an Australian gun dealer was taking orders to sell hundreds.

The Adler can fire eight shots as fast as pump-action shot guns, which are a highly restricted category of rapid-fire gun under national regulations designed to limit the risk of mass shootings.

Currently, lever-action guns have been listed in the least restrictive gun category since firearm laws were overhauled 20 years ago in response to a lone gunman killing 35 people in Tasmania state.

Gun-control advocates see that as a legal loophole that became widely known only through the advertising surrounding the Adler.

Turnbull told Parliament that the Adler ban would remain until state governments agreed on how such shotguns should be reclassified.

"We are not prepared to see those guns imported into Australia under the current classification which they have," Turnbull said.

Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm accused the government of reneging on a deal with him to lift the import ban by Aug. 7.

Leyonhjelm, who argues gun laws have rendered Australians "disarmed victims," said he agreed to support government legislation in the Senate last year in return for the government limiting the Adler ban to 12 months.

But instead of allowing the 12-month ban to expire, the government extended it while the states discuss how to treat the Adler.

"We had a deal, they didn't stick to the deal, so how can I deal with them in the future?" Leyonhjelm told reporters Tuesday.

July elections left Turnbull's conservative coalition government with a reduced minority in the Senate and more reliant on pro-gun, anti-establishment senators such as Leyonhjelm to get its legislative agenda passed.

The Adler ban applies to all lever-action shotguns with a magazine capacity larger than five cartridges.

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