Amnesty International Issues Warning On US Travel Over Gun Violence
“By prioritizing gun ownership over basic human rights, the U.S. government is willfully and systematically failing on multiple levels and ignoring its international obligations to protect people’s rights and safety.”
Amnesty International issued a travel advisory for people traveling to the United States on Wednesday, warning that “high levels of gun violence” posed a threat to visitors.
“By prioritizing gun ownership over basic human rights, the U.S. government is willfully and systematically failing on multiple levels and ignoring its international obligations to protect people’s rights and safety,” said Amnesty’s statement.
The advisory comes in the wake of a week filled with mass shootings, from El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio to the Gilroy Garlic festival in California. The governments of Uruguay and Venezuela also recently issued travel warnings to the US for violence and hate crimes, with Uruguay warning of “indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population.”
“We think that these lamentable events that occurred in the United Sates should lead to reflection, analysis and the decision to control the indiscriminate sale of arms,” said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Monday.
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a warning, describing the US as a “gun society.”
“Amnesty International today issued a travel warning calling for travelers and visitors to the United States to exercise extreme caution due to rampant gun violence, which has become so prevalent in the US that it amounts to a human rights crisis,” tweeted the human rights organization on Wednesday.
US Government Refuses To Take Action
Despite numerous massacres like the Sandy Hook elementary school and Parkland High School shootings, Amnesty argues the US government has remained unwilling to take “sufficient steps to meet the obligation” of regulating access to firearms and protecting citizens from gun violence.
“Once again, it is chillingly clear that the U.S. government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA.
Americans are ten times more likely to die of gun violence than residents of other high-income countries, according to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Medicine.
Experts argue the country’s gun violence epidemic is tied to having the highest per-capita rate of civilian gun ownership in the world, with three hundred and ninety-three million civilian owned firearms in the country. As the New Yorker’s Michael Luo states, “a rate of 120.5 guns for every hundred residents, twice as much as the second-highest nation, Yemen.”
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a major recipient of donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA), has been the greatest roadblock to common sense gun regulation in recent years. McConnell is currently under pressure to bring House-passed background check bills to the senate floor, which he has sat on for months.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a History professor at NYU who specializes in the history of fascism, responded to Amnesty’s announcement as reflective of the US’ breakdown in democracy.
“We have supported rogue states and dictators for almost a century,” tweeted Ruth Ben-Ghiat. “Now we are a rogue state, led by a corrupt con man and a party dominated by a culture of authoritarianism and violence.”
What Should Be Done?
Critics argue the US’ unwillingness to address its gun violence epidemic is particularly indefensible in light of numerous other countries that enacted effective countermeasures after suffering similar tragedies.
Shortly after the recent Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, parliament banned military style semi-automatic weapons and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduced a multi-million dollar plan to buy the newly banned guns back from owners and compensate them for their loss. Similar measures have taken place in Australia and the UK.
The Amnesty travel advisory included specific regulations the organization recommends:
“Amnesty International has been calling for common sense reform regarding the use and possession of firearms, including comprehensive background checks, national regulations for registering and licensing firearms, required training, a ban on high capacity magazines/assault weapons, and mandatory safe-storage laws. Amnesty International USA’s campaign to end gun violence has focused efforts on passing S.42., the Assault Weapons ban, and the Disarm Hate Act.”