We might have politicians sleeping with former staffers. We achieved marriage equality only through a survey that has since been labelled ‘damaging‘ by the very parliament that enforced it. But, between the policy missteps and personal oversights, there are moments in which one, resounding message can be heard across the nation: Thank God we’re not America.
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, perhaps. Even through the inauguration that followed.
But certainly, certainly, on days like last Wednesday when a 19-year-old walked into a Florida high school and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle on his former classmates, killing 17 and injuring several others.
The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, used a “AR-15 semi-automatic style weapon”, TIME reports – a string of words that likely means very little to most Australians except for the fact: It’s the same weapon that was used in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Newtown in the US. A shooting that claimed 27 lives, including the shooter’s.
In moments such as these, Australians’ sentiment of relieved gratitude and horror is reflected in reverse from across the Pacific, by those who are calling for more stringent gun laws and an end to the senseless killing.
“Be Like Australia” is the message that’s gone viral after photographer Alex Ellinghausen captured a 13-year-old girl standing in front of the White House holding a placard that reads just that. She was part of a rally for tougher gun laws in Washington DC on Monday – the President’s Day public holiday.