Former prime minister John Howard has again entered the debate on tightening gun laws in the United States.

In an interview with CNN, Mr Howard shared his experience in reforming Australia's gun laws following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 when a deranged gunman shot dead 35 people.

"This is not a left, right or -- to use American terminology -- a liberal, conservative issue," he told CNN on Sunday (US time).

"It's really a public safety, common sense issue because that is the attitude that most Australians took."

He spoke of the difficulty he faced in persuading state governments to agree to stricter rules around gun ownership.

"Most of the farmers ... supported our party," he said.

"Many of them were angry at the ban but in the end we were able to use the power of public outrage."

Mr Howard in January wrote about his successful push to overhaul gun laws in the New York Times, following the massacre of 20 children at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

US President Barack Obama has called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as universal background checks for gun buyers.


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