Amnesty International has joined a growing list of countries warning travelers about the perils of gun violence in the United States.
Their travel advisory issued Wednesday “calls on people worldwide to exercise caution and have an emergency contingency plan when traveling throughout the USA.”
“This Travel Advisory is being issued in wake of ongoing high levels of gun violence in the country,” the warning continues. Yes, this includes the increased gun violence in Chicago, but mostly the attention drawn by the ever-present mass shootings the United States seems to have that other Western nations do not seem to deal with in their countries.
This has been called a human rights crisis because it has affected the safety of people when they are supposed to feel the safest-at school, church, festivals, and shopping.
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As a Patriot, I’m discouraged and disappointed. The United States has always been a beacon of hope. Our county has been the city on the hill so to speak. The place to aspire to become. And now, the Japanese Consulate in Detroit, has released a statement last Sunday calling the United States a “gun society” and urging Japanese nationals to stay alert after the Dayton shooting.
Is this what we as Americans want other countries to see in us? There are some cases where such alerts have been politically motivated responses to the United States declaring other countries dangerous, but a growing number of countries have taken America’s prevalence of mass gun violence as a serious threat to their citizens. Such is the case with Venezuela and their warning to citizens because of political disagreements with the United States.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza urged Venezuelans to “take extreme precautions or postpone their travels in the face of the proliferation of acts of violence and hate crimes.” Not the case in Uruguay. The Uruguayan Foreign Ministry warned of the “the indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population of the United States” and told travelers to avoid taking children to crowded places like theme parks and sporting events. Places like Germany and Ireland have issued similar warnings.
New Zealand’s government warns in an online travel advisory that “there is a higher incidence of violent crime and firearm possession than in New Zealand” and “active shooter incidents occur from time to time in the United States.”
It points specifically to the Santa Fe school shooting in May 2018 that killed 10 and injured 14; a shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX that killed 26; and the rampage at a Las Vegas concert in 2017 that killed 58 and injured more than 800.
Families should feel safe coming here to go to Disneyland or watch a ball game. They should not have to fear mass shootings in America. We should not have more mass shootings than in the rest of the Western world.
The United States I grew up in was a safe place at these events. That was the America I’ve been proud of all my life. It seems to me that we have a battle to fight here at home, and right now we appear to be losing.
Close to 40 million people from other nations traveled to the United States in 2018, according to the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office. The U.S. State Department maintains a database of travel advisories for Americans planning trips abroad, rating destinations according to the government’s assessment of risk from “Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions” to “Level 4: Do Not Travel.” Our own state department ranks us at a level 1. Other countries, however rank us from a 2 to even a 3 in some cases.
For example, Afghanistan is a level 4 and people in the United States and most of the world are told basically not to travel to Afghanistan. Currently though, the United States ranks 28th in the world in highest rate from gun violence and number 1 from Western Nations such as England, Ireland, Japan, Canada, and Australia.
As a Patriot I can say I am sad about the state of affairs, but I can look at the facts and try to make our United States a safer and better place for our children and grandchildren to live.
- Here are some basic facts:
The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population but has 31% of the world’s mass shootings
- Law makers and interest groups are often at odds on policies to curb mass shootings, suggesting strategies varying from increased mental health evaluations to arming teachers.
- Two recent mass shootings happened less than a day apart. One in El Paso and one in Dayton. These have placed a renewed spotlight on the problem of gun violence, and have people, such as myself asking how can we stop them?
After looking at the facts, various groups and individuals from around the nation have suggested the following strategies. You’ve heard many of these before. Some cause intense debate between party lines, but all the same, let’s take a look in the light of the recent events.
Ban on Assault Weapons
You were expecting that one. Most people do not oppose this. In fact a recent poll suggests 72% favor a ban on assault weapons. The last federal ban on assault weapons was passed by Congress in 1994 to combat mass shootings, which fell significantly over the 10 years the law was in place. Though lawmakers didn’t specifically define an “assault weapon,” they made 18 weapons illegal to manufacture, which did not affect the assault firearms already owned by Americans.
A High Capacity Magazine Ban
Most people in recent polls favor this as well. Banning high-capacity magazines seems likely to significantly decrease the number of fatalities a shooter could inflict in a single attack and increase chances for bystanders to intervene when the shooter is caught off guard, according to experts. A lead researcher on mass shootings at Stanford University said, “Nearly every mass shooting illustrates that large capacity magazines can increase the death toll and that forcing a shooter to reload more frequently can provide opportunities for counter-attack by those around.”
Universal Background Checks
Currently our laws only require background checks from licensed firearm dealers. Research shows states that require background checks on all gun sales had 35% fewer gun deaths per capita between 2009 and 2012 and research from the nonpartisan Rand Corporation estimates universal background checks could prevent 1,100 homicides per year. While that’s a drop in our bucket, it’s a start.
Of course, arguments from critics of this strategy offer that reform and enforcement of the thousands of current gun laws would be more effective at controlling violence and that background checks are an invasion of privacy. Lawmakers have sought to quell privacy fears around background checks, emphasizing that there should not be a record of who has firearms due to privacy laws.
Gun Violence Restraining Orders (Red Flag Law)
Red flag laws allow family members and law enforcement to file Extreme Risk Protection Order and restrict or temporarily remove a person’s access to firearms when their behavior suggests that they pose a violent threat to themselves and others.
More states are adopting these laws as perpetrators of mass shootings are regularly proven to have displayed warning signs of deadly behavior before they attacked.
According to an analysis from Everytown for Gun Safety, of the 156 mass shootings that occurred between 2009 and 2016, 54% were related to domestic or family violence. This strong connection suggests that domestic violence is a likely predictor of violent behavior.
These are all strategies to think about. We live in a democracy. A democracy cannot exist if we cannot come together to discuss our society and our problems. The violence in the United States is a problem right now. Violence does not know party lines or religion. Violence does not care who you are. A person committing a violent act is blinded by hate. An example is the Jewish Center shooting in Overland Park. The shooter spouted something about killing Jews, and began shooting. There were three people killed, all of which were Catholic. This man was blinded by his hate.
Let’s make an effort as Patriots who love the USA to bring peace and safety back to our country. If people don’t feel safe shopping or going to a baseball game, it is a sad state of affairs we are tolerating. We must come together and do something for the good of all. Our country needs us now.