One of the main problems with the US is the huge amount of internal propaganda the it inflicts on its citizens. All countries have it and it is most appalling, and sometimes laughable, in dictatorships. In democracies it is a little more subtle and in the United States it begins with the “land of the free, home of the brave” garbage. Americans may bridle at the description of this as ‘garbage’ because many of them seriously believe it. The funny thing is that many of them, perhaps because of their tendency to isolationism, and the lower rate of overseas travel (fewer of them have passports than most other countries), believe theirs is the ONLY land of the free, home of the brave. All people in western democracies have similar sorts of drivel thrown at them, perhaps in a more subtle way. I suspect if you ask anyone from any western democracy whether they live in a ‘land of the free’, they would answer in the affirmative, if they didn’t laugh at such a silly question.
Many Americans believe that massacres like the one that happened in Las Vegas a few days ago, also happen in Europe on a regular basis, or if they don’t, it is because the people are forced to live in socialist hell-holes like Denmark, Sweden or Germany. They also believe that when Australia introduced strict gun controls after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, crime rose dramatically and has continued to do so. This line has been fed to them by the National Rifle Association. This is not the case for all crime. Robbery did increase from about 90 victims per 100,000 in 1996 to about 135 victims per 100,000 in 2001, but has been generally declining ever since and, in 2012, was less than 60 per 100,000. Sexual assault has remained fairly steady since 1996, varying between 80 and 95 per 100,0001. Gun deaths (homicides only) in Australia have also declined dramatically since 1996, with the rate just before the Port Arthur massacre being about 0.4 people per 100,000, whereas by 2012 it had fallen to about 0.15 per 100,0002. In the US, homicide gun deaths are 3.5 per 100,000; over 23 times the per capita rate in Australia3.
Another funny thing that Americans would have you believe is that they have their guns not only for personal protection from ‘a bad guy with a gun’, but they also need them for ‘protection against tyranny from the government’. This latter oddity is another feature of the NRA’s propaganda, which has led to the bastardisation of the 2nd amendment4. When I explained, to a couple of them, that I have never owned a gun, don’t need a gun, and don’t want a gun, because Australia is a relatively safe place, they seemed confused. In that confusion, one of them asked me if we had sorted out ‘human nature’ as well. I said that ‘no, but we prevent nutjobs getting guns’. That seemed to confuse them even more.