What Australia can teach America about guns?
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As an Australian, I have often considered the United States as the leader of the international stage, however I believe there is something that Australia has done that puts it ahead of the United States - the control of firearms.

Orlando, Newtown, Charleston, San Bernardino, the list of cities in which mass shootings take place goes on. America has been painted in red because of the mass shootings that take place here too often. 

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The access that individuals have to firearms allowing these mass shootings is part of the problem. When twenty bodies of school children lay lifeless across an elementary school, and fifty people in a nightclub who were dancing one second and shot dead the next, we have to ask ourselves when is enough, enough? 

It was a single mass shooting that took the lives of thirty-five Australians to prompt the government to take action to ensure history would not repeat itself, and indeed it has not to this day, twenty years after the incident.

Am I saying that Australia is the safest and happiest place on earth after these reforms? 

No. 

I do, however, feel safe walking down the street at night alone. I can enter a crowded area without thinking of people shooting me down. I feel like I can enjoy my life and relax knowing that the access to a gun is very hard and restrictive in Australia. 

Coming to America, I drive down a road and see signs advertising, “Guns for Sale,” and it makes me uneasy. There is something about America that makes the ownership of guns ordinary, and mass shootings normalized. What more can America do? Does the American public even want to do anything?

It was not the background checks of Australian citizens, nor the age required to purchase a gun, nor a gun license that reduced gun violence in Australia. No, it was the seizure of over 640,000 weapons by the Australian government. 

Taking weapons from citizens - could such a thing ever take place in America? I know, as an Australian, we say all too much just how much Americans love their guns, and I know we are not the only country who has this impression. Whilst certainly not all Americans feel this way, the idea that the American government could take away the weapons of American citizens would seem an outrage to many.

The reality is, a background check is not going to substitute for all of the guns that are already in America. In America today, the number of registered guns is roughly equivalent to the number of people living here, if not more. 

Walking down the streets of Richmond, I saw a man with a gun in its holster on the side of his shorts, and I know this scene is one that can be seen in many other states. To know there is a man walking around with the power to end my life, and those around me with a pull of a trigger is not safe. 

But here is the irony in the situation, Americans feel the need to carry guns for self defense, but if there were no guns in the first place (or at least not in the vast amount that there are in the country today) people may not feel this way. I know in Australia we do not feel the need to bear arms for our protection. The people of America will not part from their guns so easily as the people in Australia were able to. 

Until there is a change in society, and it has been decided that enough is enough, mass shootings will remain a bloody part of American life.

Kaia Delaney is exchange student from the University of Queensland studying at the University of Richmond. She has produced multi-media news stories for 4ZZZ, a community radio station in Brisbane, Australia.


 

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.