It's a tale of two nations.
The senseless killing of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane, apparently by three Oklahoma teenagers who were just bored, has triggered another round of divisive conversation in this country about race. But in Australia it has spurred what seems to me to be a more appropriate debate about guns, one we need to be having.
Outraged Australians are asking why we tolerate gun violence in this country, and we don't have an answer. The deputy prime minister asked why a person is 15 times more likely to be shot dead here than in his country.
The answer, of course, is the insanity of the gun lobby and the lack of courage among politicians to stand up to it. When there was a mass gun killing in Australia in 1996, that nation responded with a crackdown on guns and there has not been a similar incident since. According to a NPR report, "The new laws prohibited all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and imposed strict licensing rules. There are also background checks and lengthy waiting periods for all purchases."
Australia now has one of the lowest gun violence rates in the world.
The Christopher Lane tragedy is not primarily about race. One of the accused teenagers is white, and the truth is that black-on-black violence in this country is far worse than black-on-white violence. It's possible that had the first person these three came across been black, it would be a dead black man we're talking about instead of a dead white man.
We will have bored teenagers and bad parents and horrible lyrics in popular songs. All of that is problematic. But it's the easy availability of lethal weapons that turns ugliness into horror. In America it's time for us to get the guns out of our culture.