U.S. Gun Culture Questioned (Again) After Oklahoma Murder

Aug 23, 2013

A Facebook tribute page for 22-year-old Chris Lane, who was jogging in an affluent neighborhood of Duncan when he was gunned down at random last week. Three boys— ages 15, 16 and 17 — have been charged in the Melbourne native's death.
Credit R.I.P. Christopher Lane / Facebook

The murder of a 22-year-old Australian baseball player in Duncan earlier this month has renewed international focus on U.S. gun culture and regulations.

Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies and an expert on comparative politics, says the United States portrays a certain image that the Australians are picking up on after Chris Lane’s death.

"They of course have relatively low gun violence, and that came about in 1996 after they had a massacre there where over 30 people were killed,” Cruise says, referring to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. “They then enacted gun laws that prohibited the purchase of semi-automatics…and they saw an immediate decrease in the number of gun-related incidents.”

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer urged Australians to boycott travel to the United States. The Guardian newspaper reports Fischer played a key role in changing Australia’s gun laws.

"Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice,'' Fischer said. 

"I am deeply angry about this because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers [but] it's a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA."

Cruise says while gun control is typically thought of as a domestic issue, it does have international ramifications.

“People do consider those sorts of statistics when they determine where they're going to study abroad [and] where they're going to travel,” Cruise says.

But Cruise doesn't think it would sway Oklahomans' attitude about firearms culture.

"We've had a number of instances in the last couple of years that has brought it to the table for debate, but we're not seeing a lot of substantial changes."