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PD Editorial: America's true pastime: Gun play

  • A memorial for slain Australian Christopher Lane in Duncan, Okla. (BRANSON HAILEY / Los Angeles Times)

Chris Lane died doing what he loved most, playing baseball. Those responsible reportedly killed him because they had nothing better to do — so they shot him in the back.

Now, at least one political leader in Australia, Lane's native country, are warning residents about visiting the United States because of the dangers involved. “Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice,” former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer told an Australian newspaper. “This is the bitter harvest and legacy of the policies of the NRA that even blocked background checks for people buying guns at gun shows. People should take this into account before going to the United States.”

He noted that the death of Lane, a 22-year-old Melbourne native who was attending school in Oklahoma when he was gunned down Friday, is “a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA.”

There's not much more to be said. Fisher is right.

The rate of firearm deaths per 100,000 people is more than 10 times higher in the United States than it is in Australia. And there's little chance that Congress will act anytime soon to reduce the proliferation of guns or take other steps to reduce gun violence.

If ever there was motivation for taking action, it came on April 20, 1999, when two heavily armed students started shooting at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and one teacher.

And it arrived on April 16, 2007 when 33 people were killed in a shooting spree at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

It also came on July 20, 2012 when James Holmes, a graduate student opened fire during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others.

And it came on Dec. 14, when Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn., and shot 20 children and six adults to death.

But when presented with the opportunity to pass gun control legislation several months ago, Congress, pressured by the National Rifle Association, balked. And, as Fischer noted, little of note has changed.

“There is a gun for almost every American,” he said.

Unfortunately, that included a 17-year-old from Duncan, Okla. who, according to prosecutors, was driving with his friends when he decided to shoot Christopher Lane in the back “for the fun of it.”

The White House this week launched a new Internet campaign in hopes of drumming up public pressure on Congress to act. The campaign, titled “What will it take,” features families of the Aurora theater and Columbine High School victims. It encourages Americans to sign a petition opposing gun violence.

So what will it take? We don't know. But it's clear America shouldn't take this without a fight.

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