Dinner With the Aussies: Food for Thought.
This is my hotel here in Lucca. There are only 24 rooms and, while a wonderful breakfast buffet is included, there is no dining room for other meals. There are a dozen restaurants within a few minutes walk, however, and last night I chose a comfortable looking one with just eight or ten tables. By coincidence, I found myself seated next to an Australian couple who were staying at the same hotel. I had met Brian and Claire that very morning at breakfast.
They’ve traveled extensively to many countries in Europe and Asia, but have not yet been to the U.S. Of course I suggested that an Amtrak long-distance train was the very best way for them to see the U.S. mainland.
(Interestingly, when it comes to passenger rail, it turns out that the Aussies have many of the same complaints we do in the U.S.– old equipment and not enough frequency. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
Then I mentioned my involvement with NARP and said there are at the moment a couple of bills in Congress we would like to see passed. I explained that our members are being asked to contact their representatives in Washington and urge them to support these measures.
“Well, mate,” said my new Aussie friend, Brian, “if you don’t mind a little advice coming from an outsider, I can suggest a way to get those new laws passed in a jiffy.”
Of course I don’t mind, I said. All suggestions are welcome.
“All you have to do is get the N.R.A. to tell those politicians what you want,” he said, “That’ll get it done right quick.”
It was not intended as a humorous remark.
This is not the first time the subject of guns in the U.S. has been raised in conversations I’ve had with people from other countries. In fact, these days it almost always comes up. People from anywhere else in the civilized world are dumbfounded that in many states almost anyone can wander around almost anywhere with a loaded gun. To my surprise, Brian and Claire also knew that 70-percent of the American public wants strict gun laws, yet the politicians–our elected representatives–continue to take us in the opposite direction.
I asked what kind of gun laws they have in Australia.
“We had a terrible shooting incident some years back in our country,” Brian said. “That’s when our government said, ‘Right! That’s enough then. Everyone turn in your guns.’ ”
I asked how the public, especially the gun owners, responded to that.
He looked at me for a second or two. “Any damn fool could see that it had gone too far,” he said. “So we turned in the guns.”
Ah, if only U.S. citizens could see the logic as clearly as the Aussies. The whole thing with rabid gun owners and open carrying of assault rifles just boggles my mind. And the scariest part is, it’s getting worse and at an accelerating rate. Friends who NEVER used to own or even mention guns have become fanatics about their “right to bear arms.” If the unending string of horrific shootings don’t make people sick of guns, what will?