On an Australian national television station, ABC 24, commentators struggled to make sense of American inaction in response to mass shootings from Columbine to San Bernardino.
David Marr, a journalist with Guardian Australia, noted that “so terrified are America politicians of the gun lobby” that a bill to provide universal background checks is hung up in Congress despite overwhelming support of the American people. Marr called the situation “an extraordinary insight into the strange contradictions of the United States of America.”
“The people of America want gun control. The gun industry does not. The gun industry is winning,” Marr said, noting that “slaughter” does not seem to impact the power of the gun lobby “a bit.”
Another panelist, Nick Cater of the Menzies Research Centre, was even less charitable. He called America’s gun policy “lunatic.”
The Australians have had a much different response to mass shootings, as ThinkProgress reviewed after the gun massacre at Umpqua Community College in October:
In 1996, a gunman opened fire at a popular tourist destination on the Australian island of Tasmania. Using a semiautomatic rifle, he killed 35 people.
Australia responded by reforming their gun laws. High powered rifles and shotguns were banned and uniform gun licensing requirements were imposed for the guns that remained legal. The country also implemented a buyback program which resulted in the destruction of more than a million firearms.
So far, the United States has responded to the San Bernardino massacre by voting down legislative language that would ban individuals on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.