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In the wake of yet another mass shooting in America, there are a lot of Australians unhappy with the United States. America has failed, they note, to implement any gun control measures to prevent these recurring tragedies — no background check expansions, no bans on larger assault weapons, no nothing.
But besides expressing disgust and leading by example, is there anything Australians can actually do about it?
One group thinks there is. In an interview on Australia’s Today Show, Gun Control Australia director Samantha Lee suggested a boycott of non-essential travel to America to protest its inaction on gun control.
“We have 2.1 million Australians visiting the U.S. every year and over 200,000 expats in America,” Lee said. “So I believe we have a duty to respond to this tragedy in the U.S. And the way to do this is have a boycott of non-essential travel to the U.S.”
Though there’s been no indication yet that Australians will boycott travel over America’s inaction on gun control, Australians have been calling out the U.S. for not responding to gun massacres the way their country did two decades ago. In 1996, after a man went on a rampage with a semi-automatic rifle and killed 35 people, Australia banned high-powered rifles and enacted strict licensing requirements.
In his address to the country following last week’s mass shooting at an Oregon community college, President Obama cited Australia as an example of a country with common sense gun laws. On the Today Show, Lee said Australia should “act as an international community to assist Obama to push those laws through Congress.”
Gun deaths in Australia decreased significantly after the country reformed their gun laws.
“Having criminal record checks, and mental health checks, and increasing security checks in schools,” Lee said. “This is in no way radical in terms of Australia and our gun laws.”
Lee also suggested that Australia ban donations from the firearms industry to their political parties, which she said would “allow us to raise that issue with America to ban donations from the gun lobby.”
The gun rights lobby has spent considerably more influencing U.S. policy than the gun control lobby.
CREDIT: BOSTON GLOBE
“Millions of dollars are donated by the [National Rifle Association], particularly to the Republican party [in America],” she said, lamenting the “cozy relationship” between the gun lobby and politicians in both countries. “In Australia, we need to be cautious that we also don’t take any donations from the firearms industry, and we need to raise this issue with the U.S.”
Led by the NRA, gun rights activists have spent millions of dollars influencing U.S. politics, though more of their money goes toward lobbying for and against legislation than to actual candidates. The top recipients of contributions from the gun rights lobby include current House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), according to the Boston Globe.
But even though millions of Australians have guns, conservatives have been decrying Obama’s attempt to look to countries like Australia for inspiration on gun control. On Fox News on Sunday, Clayton Morris asserted that Australian citizens “aren’t allowed to have guns.” “They also have no freedom!” another host retorted.