America!… What are you doing?

I think it’s fair to say that if you haven’t heard what’s just happened in the U.S, in the state of Florida, you’ve been living under a rock. The mass shooting at a high school in Florida has caused public outrage across the globe and has sparked massive debate as to why this event was even possible.

Many people all the way down here in Australia are asking themselves; What is America doing? Why are guns not yet banned? And how many more innocent lives need to be taken before they are?

We now know that a total of 17 were killed (3 teachers and 14 students). To make matters worse, 7 of the victims were as young as 14. All innocent humans who were shot dead when a 19 year-old-gunman opened fire with an assault rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

How did this boy fall into possession of such a deadly weapon? How come it was made so easy?

I was educated recently on exactly when and how Australia reached its decision to ban guns in this country. On April 28th, 1996, Australia experienced one of its worst ever mass shootings, historically known as the Port Arthur Massacre. On the popular tourist site of Port Arthur in Southern Tasmania, 32 people were killed and 23 wounded. Exactly 12 days later, under the John Howard government, Australia finally introduced gun control policies.

We haven’t had a mass shooting since. It’s no wonder we are all thinking, now why hasn’t America followed our lead?

With America being such a close ally of Australia, we have heard about quite a few of the mass shootings that have come out of that country. We all remember the last horrendous tragedy; the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occurred on December 14, 2012. A 20-year-old gunman fatally shot 20 students between the ages of 6 and 7 as well as 6 adult staff. But no, that wasn’t tragic enough!

Unlike Australia, America has chosen a policy quite different to ours regarding guns. To put it simply, they are still legal to purchase by any American citizen with a gun license. Of course, getting one of those is also not so difficult either.

It is the genuine belief amongst many Americans and their politicians that “in order to stop a bad guy with a gun, you need a good guy with a gun”. We all might roll our eyes at the ridiculousness of that logic, but I’m literally telling you what was reported on the news last night.

Before we go any further into arguing the obvious point that I want to make, I do think it’s important to properly consider the opposing view. Anyone knows when you really want to make a good argument, it’s important that you are able to argue both side of the case. So, let’s take a look, shall we.

What a lot of Australians (at least the kids from my generation) may not know is that there is a fundamental reason for why Americans are so attached to their guns and that reason lies within the American Constitution. You see, the American constitution outlines the American “right to bear arms”. A right added to the constitution just after its creation in 1788.

If we go back a few years to July 4th, 1776 you will remember this is also the day known as Independence Day in America. It is the day that the U.S claimed independence from England, adopted the Declaration of independence and became a Republic. The reason this is so significant is that America had to fight for their independence. Unlike Australia who were merely granted a degree of freedom from the Queen, America actually took up arms and fought the British, which is why they are now able to run their own country completely separate from the Queen.

It is also why you will sometimes hear Americans say things like; “if it weren’t for firearms, there would be no America”. Firearms are an important symbol of national independence and freedom. And this is why it is so deeply ingrained in the constitution.

As Australians, we will be able to never fully understand how powerful and important the right to bear arms is because it was based on event that we never had to go through as a nation… I get that.


At the same time, there are still overwhelming facts and statistics that American politicians need to take into account. Times are changing, and it is no longer about maintaining national independence. We are more concerned about the safety of everyday human beings who are just trying to live their lives with the freedom that they rightfully deserve.

Another example of a recent mass shooting occurred October 1, 2017. A gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured. If you look at this incident as well as the Florida high school shooting, you’ll know that both gunman had purchased weapons legally.

Which means that it’s pretty obvious that the first thing that needs to be done is for the American politicians, Trump especially, to take responsibility for changing the laws and putting controls in place to ensure that legal purchase of guns is a lot more restrictive.

In February of 2017 President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses. This regulation was constructed as part of Obama’s efforts to strengthen the federal background check system following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. It’s clear now isn’t it? What a dumb idea repealing that regulation was!

Aside from the harrowing statistics relating to the deaths and injuries in all of these mass shootings, there are so many other numbers that should alarm many American citizens and their politicians.

On an average day 96 Americans are killed by guns. In a year approximately 13000 gun-related homicides occur in America. As you can tell from the examples I have already given you school shootings as well as other mass shootings are becoming the new normal in America. This needs to stop!

Politicians need to stop accepting money from the NRA and stop supporting gun lobbyists and people trying to protect the selling of guns to American citizens; ESPECIALLY those citizens with mental illnesses.

I’m saying that all guns should be destroyed immediately. I think it’s a process that will take some time and getting used to but it does need to get started. You know what doesn’t take as long? Implanting government policies to restrict legal purchases of guns.

It is the U.S governments responsibility to protect its citizens. To do the painstakingly obvious, right thing!

Have a lovely day! xx




Claudia Forsberg is a Melbourne based writer and journalist. She is currently working as a Regional Trainee with ABC Ballarat.


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