Bill O'Reilly advocates for gun control
Conservative US political commentator Bill O'Reilly cited Australian research as proof that tighter gun control can lead to a drop in crime.
O'Reilly was interviewing the gun ownership advocate and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation Alan Gottlieb on Fox News, about tighter gun controls in the wake of the Newtown school massacre in Connecticut last week.
"In Australia they did ban semi-automatic weapons, and the crime rate plummeted there," O'Reilly said.
"They say in Australia that was a very effective public policy."
When Gottlieb disagreed with the statistics, O'Reilly said:
"...according to Andrew Leigh of the national university there, who studied over a period of 10 years, homicides fell 59 per cent, and suicides 65 per cent. So that's the latest study out of there," O'Reilly said.
O'Reilly, traditionally seen as a conservative commentator and a self-confessed "Second Amendment guy", has previously advocated against gun control.
However, after citing Leigh's research paper, O'Reilly went on to question whether laws needed to be tightened.
"I am a Second Amendment guy, and I know what the founding fathers' intent was.
"They wanted Americans to be able to defend themselves.
"There isn't any question about it. But I think we can tighten it up a little bit."
Public debate in the US has focussed heavily on gun ownership laws since 26 people, including 20 young children, were killed by a gunman with an assault rifle in Connecticut.
Over the weekend a Twitter exchange between media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Australian politician Malcolm Turnbull attracted significant attention on social media.
''Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy," Mr Murdoch said.
Mr Turnbull then observed: "@rupertmurdoch I suspect they will find the courage when Fox News enthusiastically campaigns for it."
The reply was retweeted more than 2400 times, with more than 1000 "favourites".