By now you’ve probably heard about the Australian gun control organization calling for a boycott of nonessential travel to the United States. In an interview with Australia’s Today, Samantha Lee of Gun Control Australia addressed the most recent mass shooting at an Oregon community college that claimed ten lives, saying that “America has reached an abyss,” and lamented the suffocating grip that gun lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association, and their millions of dollars, have on our politicians, especially Republicans:
There’s millions of dollars that are donated by the NRA, particularly to the Republican party, so they’re–mainly in terms of trying to prevent any gun laws passing Congress is the Republican party, because they get a huge amount of money from the NRA. And so in Australia we need to be cautious that we also don’t take any donations from the firearms industry. And we need to push this issue with the US…
I believe America has reached an abyss, and we really do need to act as an international community to assist Obama to push these laws through Congress. From our research it shows that the American public is moving on this issue and do want stronger gun laws. What is preventing it is the cozy relationship between the gun lobby and the Republican and Democratic party in the US.
Noting that Australia sends 2.1 million tourists to the United States every year and that there are over 200,000 Aussie expats stateside, Lee said her fellow countrymen have “a duty to respond to this tragedy in the U.S. And the way to do this is have a boycott of non-essential travel to the U.S.”
The right is responding to this predictably. Besides–in general and as a group–victim-blaming and building strawmen in not-applicable “gun-free zones,” the good folks over at FOX News’ Fox & Friends Weekend were overheard making ad hominem attacks on Australia specifically, saying that Australians don’t actually have any freedom, etc., etc.
Okay, whatever. Good oil, as they are said to say Down Under.
Let’s be clear: Gun Control Australia is on to something. But their plan doesn’t go far enough. Boycotting nonessential travel is a fantastic idea (and the simple threat of it here in the U.S. over interstate culture war squabbles has been enough to change policy before), but why limit the impact? Last year, Australian visitors spent $6.1 billion in the Land of the Free, and about 90% of that could be considered “nonessential,” i.e. vacation and visiting family. That’s a good chunk of change at more than five billion dollars. But compared to the hundreds of billions American companies make in the international market every year (and $2 trillion they’re currently hiding offshore in order to avoid the basic civic duty of paying taxes), it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket.
You really want to make America reconsider its gun laws and moral obligations to its citizens? You have to hit us where it hurts; and you’re only going to get there by striking at the true decision makers and influencers in our nation: Big Business.
Consider: International sales accounted for 64 percent of Apples 3rd Quarter revenues this year. McDonald’s brings in about $4 billion every year in Europe alone. Silicon Valley-based Netflix has 23.3 million international subscribers, while nearly 70% of Hollywood’s profits are blockbustered out of foreigners’ wallets. And even though they’re constantly losing money, Ford and GM are selling a lot of cars in Europe. Ironically, Australia is one of the American gun industry’s biggest customers and, along with our enlightened friends the UK and Canada, accounts for about 40% of the $4.4 billion export market for American-made firearms.
You see what I’m saying here? Do us a favor, World, and boycott American businesses.
American business knows how to lobby government. And it does it well. You start putting a serious dent in the pocket of billion dollar corporations who lust after your global dollars, and you give them a clear reason why, believe me: Things are gonna change around here.
I hate to admit defeat, but let’s talk frankly: Those of us in the U.S. who believe in responsible gun laws, well, we have our hands tied. We witness tragedy after heart-breaking tragedy as thousands of our fellow citizens–our siblings, our friends, our coworkers, our classmates–die at the hand of somebody wielding a gun (or guns) every year. We speak up. We form activist groups. We lobby our elected officials. We listen to our President–our President–in what has become a semi annual event, beg those very same lawmakers to do something. Anything. Nearly all of us tell the pollsters that we want some very basic changes made to our gun policies: Universal background checks. Mental health screenings.
Unfortunately, our pleas are ignored, thanks mostly to the National Rifle Association which enjoys significant influence, partly due to its large membership base constantly subjected to untrue scaremongering propaganda, but mostly thanks to the millions ($28 million last year alone) dumped into lobbying our government of the people, for the people, and by the people on “gun rights” issues.
In America, money talks loudest. And that $28 million ain’t shit compared to the hurting you could put on the businesses headquartered in the nation that’s seen 1.5 million gun deaths since 1968.
And, let’s face it, World: You have some skin in the game too. 70 million of you visited our country as tourists in 2013. Nearly a million of you study at our colleges and universities. About 20 percent of the world’s migrants find their way to our shores. Odds are you know somebody who lives right here in the U.S.A. How safe do you feel, really, knowing your child or cousin or friend-of-a-friend will be studying in a nation that has experienced 142 school shootings in the last two years? Or spending much of their time at a prime target of violence like, say, their job? Or a shopping mall, a coffee shop, a hair salon, a movie theater.
Not very, I would imagine. And I really can’t blame you.
Beyond that, why wouldn’t you want to boycott bloated billion-dollar American corporations? Don’t you already want to give this country a nice “fuck you”? We invade sovereign nations and bomb hospitals. Our companies exploit sweatshop and child labor around the world. Our banks are the reason the world’s economy collapsed (and for many of you is still not recovered). At any given moment, American companies are trying to influence your government to do something they think you wouldn’t like. We’re loud and rude and entitled and hopelessly materialistic.
So saddle up, World, because it’s a wild ride ’round these here parts and we could sure use your help about now. Cancel your Netflix, buy a Fiat (or get a deal on a Volkswagen!), skip that [insert local flavor] Frappuccino, and ditch the latest Hollywood blockbuster for one of those sexy, smart arthouse flicks your country is so well-known for. And tell these companies you won’t buy their product again until America’s government gets their shit together and passes some common sense gun legislation.
In case it wasn’t obvious, we’re getting desperate.