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Australian Leader Urges Gun Ban

May 02, 1996|Reuters

HOBART, Australia — Prime Minister John Howard called for a nationwide ban on all semiautomatic firearms Wednesday as mourners wept openly and hugged each other at a memorial service for the 35 victims of a shooting rampage in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian government announced that it will move next week to outlaw semiautomatic and military-style firearms. The island state has one of the highest levels of gun ownership in Australia.

The national mourning was most evident at an emotional memorial service in Hobart, capital of Tasmania and just 30 miles from where the shooting erupted Sunday at the former Port Arthur colonial prison site that is now a popular tourist spot.

Several thousand people, including Howard, joined dozens of relatives and friends of the dead at the hourlong service.

In nearby Royal Hobart Hospital, Martin Bryant, a 28-year-old Hobart man charged with one count of murder after the killings, was being treated for burns and was under heavy guard. He is expected to be charged with additional counts in the rampage.

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