American Gun Culture’s Fiercest Foreign Critic

Uri Friedman in The Atlantic:

Lead_960The deadpan reaction of one BBC presenter to the shooting rampage in San Bernardino on Wednesday—“Just another day in the United States in America, another day of gunfire, panic, and fear”—got a lot of attention this week as a window of sorts into the world’s despair over the mundanity of American gun violence. But the response was quite tame compared with that of Australia’s former deputy prime minister, Tim Fischer, who on Thursday urged the Australian government to issue more dire warnings about travel to the United States. (The current Australian advisory notes, among other things, that there is “a heightened threat of terrorist attack in the United States” stemming from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq; that there has been civil unrest in places like Ferguson, Missouri; and that “the United States has a generally higher incidence of violent crime, including incidences where a firearm (gun) is involved, compared to Australia.”)

“You are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the U.S.A. than in Australia per capita,” Fischer told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, adding that he was therefore “sick and tired” of the U.S. government advising American travelers about potential terrorist attacks in Australia. Some context for his numbers: There are .15 fatalities in mass shootings per 100,000 people in the United States, and .01 in Australia, according to one study; the rate of homicide by firearm yields an even greater divide between the two countries. Noting that there have been more than 350 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, Fischer said that “all [are] unacceptable because the U.S. is not stepping up on the public-policy reform front.” “It’s time to call out the U.S.A,” he argued. He also had words for the National Rifle Association: “The NRA in particular needs to be called out for their unacceptable blockage of any sensible reform, including [ammunition] magazine limitation.”

More here.