America and Australia walk into a bar.
Australia: “When are you getting it together about gun control?”
America: “When are you getting it together about marriage equality?”
Bartender: “It’s the same bloody question; are we equal or not? You both know the answer; you already answered it on one of the issues. Now shut up and drink your appletinis.”
The bartender’s right, of course. The major issues that are currently facing both countries are, at their core, about equality. An even playing field. In Australia, it’s the right for couples to get married, regardless of sexuality or gender. In America, it’s for every unarmed person to be given a chance to live freely and not expect to be shot.
Both are a debate about the value of human life, and if some lives matter more than others. Both are a fight for basic human rights. Both affect the lives of thousands, if not millions, of each country’s citizens. Both issues, whilst they remain unresolved, are taking and ruining lives.
We should help each other see the simplicity of the respective issue before us, and how, like a small child who takes itself off to bed when it needs a nap, we already know what to do. But that hasn’t happened, and it’s clouded the conversation.
This week, the Australian media has been full of reactions to the Las Vegas massacre. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve done it better over here, and rightly so. Appalled at the senseless loss of life, we’ve repeated our cries for America to tighten their gun control, and expressed our dismay at the country’s stubborn attitude to their Constitutional and completely outdated right to bear arms; which, when it was written, didn’t envisage weaponry that could kill 59 people and injure more than 500 from the 32nd floor of a building across the street from thousands of innocent people.
Here in ‘Straya, we’ve got that subject sorted. In 1996, John Howard established very strict firearm laws in response to the Port Arthur massacre, where Martin Bryant went on a shooting spree, killing 35 people. Semiautomatic rifles and pump action shotguns were banned, a gun registry was established, as was a buy-back scheme for illegal weapons.
Most Aussies are happy with that, because we abhor any sort of imbalance of power. Now in 2017, we’re at one of our biggest equality crossroads in decades; do we allow same sex couples to marry, or not?
But rather than applying similar logic, it’s become an ugly, divisive debate, that’s strayed far from the basic question put to us. And ironically, it’s John Howard who’s leading the “No” Campaign, because he can’t see the fundamental similarities between the two issues.
LISTEN: The Deadliest Mass Shooting in US History. Post continues after audio…
Our postal survey has even made international headlines, with high profile identities from all over the world, especially from America, urging Australia to settle things for once and all.