The recent horrifying murder of Christopher Lane, a young Australian man – killed by “bored” Oklahoma teenagers looking for “fun” and evidently unwilling to read a library book or hang out at the local McDonald’s – is rapidly coming to symbolize everything other nations despise and fear about the dearth of effective gun laws in the US.
Lane was a 22-year-old on a baseball scholarship, praised as a good friend and son. He was shot in the back as he jogged, by three teenagers who intended to shoot him from their car and follow his murder with others.
He had no chance to even see his killer. So much for the NRA’s vaunted “more is better” stance on firearms. Even if Christopher Lane had owned a gun, he would not have had time to use it.
His murder brings to mind two British tourists, men in their 20s, killed in Sarasota several years ago, for no reason other than that their killer, another teen with a gun, felt like doing it. The murderer was convicted of those crimes, but the mourning parents – whom the vacationing men were visiting – suffer their own life sentence.
New York City just pulled off a sting operation using undercover cops to purchase weapons smuggled up from southern states (in this case, North Carolina) where guns are cheaper and easier to obtain. The smugglers hid the weapons in suitcases and gym bags and took inexpensive, “no ID required” buses to New York, where they displayed and sold their wares to undercover police.
A gun used by a New York City 14-year-old – killed by police this month when he fired at them – had a murky history. The last time it was registered was in 1997 in Kentucky, by a man who then gave the gun as partial payment for rent. Absurdly, he assumed its new owner would register the weapon. That man did not, leaving unknown its whereabouts, and victims, in the intervening years. Until it ended in the hands of a teenager.
The ease with which guns can be bought and sold in the US with no registration or ID is appalling to citizens of other countries.
Now, one of them is proposing action.
The New York Post reports that “former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer has urged Australian tourists to boycott the US in the wake of the shooting murder of the Melbourne baseball star. Mr. Fischer said he was deeply angered by the latest tragedy and said Australia turning their backs on America would help send a stern message about the need for tighter gun control.”
There’s a message many around the world can get behind. If not for education or work – and there are people who candidly say no to high-paying jobs in the US because of their fear of gun violence – then a boycott for play.
Florida beaches are wonderful . . . but so are Greece’s, and goodness knows Greece needs the money. New York is exciting and fast-paced, yet the same could be said of any country’s largest city.
There’s nothing like Disney, but why should the Mouse in California or Florida reap more dollars than it deserves? Disney says it prohibits guns in its parks, but does not use metal detectors or pat down its guests, leading to a loaded pistol discovered on a Disney dinosaur ride in its Animal Kingdom.
In fact, while much foreign tourism in the US concentrates on glitz and glamor, there is a great deal to be said for the benefits of relaxing closer to home in a nation where vacationers can be fairly certain the next person to drive by is not equipped to kill from the safety of their vehicle.
If you’re not from the US, vacationing near your own nation eliminates long flights over intervening oceans and hassles with US immigration officials. Stay at – or near – home, and you’ll get to miss food that is often bland or ill-prepared, queues of obese Americans, and a struggle to understand the many different accents of English spoken in the US.
If you fall ill or are injured on holiday, outside the US chances are you will actually be able to afford healthcare. Visiting America? Good luck with that.
Staying close to home means less fear and thus more genuine relaxation. You won’t be able to post your photos of the Statue of Liberty on Facebook or impress the neighbors with your Wild West tales when you return, but is better-than-the-Joneses more essential than coming back alive?
Tim Fischer, who joined former prime minister John Howard in proposing and passing Australia’s gun control laws, says choosing not to travel to the US “would help build pressure on the US Congress to finally act. ‘Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice . . . people should take this into account before going to the United States. There is a gun for almost every American.’”
America the boycotted. There’s an idea whose time has come.