Why America Needs Gun Control: An Expat Perspective

Friday, 9 October 2015
Today's post will not have anything to do with adventures in Australia. I'm almost 98% positive that what I have to say will piss off a good majority of my friends back home but honestly, I don't care. If you had asked me a year or so ago about my views on gun control, it would be very different from what it is today. 

Let's get one thing straight: I like guns. There, I said it. I like guns. I enjoy going to the range and firing off a few rounds. I always liked having guns and always felt that because I was a "responsible gun owner" I had the right to own them. I was a strong advocate for improving mental health and not limiting gun access. Fast forward a year, and now, I can live without them. I still like them, I still love shooting, but I also like the peace of mind that living in a country with strict gun control brings me.

I'm sorry America, but at this point, you've lost your privilege to have easy access to guns. I swear I hear about a shooting every other day in America. You can listen to the annoyance in the newscaster's voice when they report it here. You know in the back of their mind they're thinking "Seriously, again America? Kindly get your shit together so we can stop reporting on this crap. We did something about it, and we're still free". At this point, the ONLY valid argument for not amending the 2nd Amendment is "I LIKE GUNS", everything else is irrelevant.
  • "It goes against the 2nd Amendment": Ok first off, do y'all know what the word amendment means? Last time I checked, they're not ironclad. These things can be adjusted and...wait for it...amended! Remember that time alcohol was banned in the U.S.? That shit got amended real fast. Oh and remember that time there was slavery? Yup that amendment got amended as well. That's why they're amendments. It's so that they can be altered to fit with change. In 1776, the founding fathers were not running around with AK's on dinosaurs wreaking havoc on the British soldiers. Muskets took a while to load. There was a nice, cooling off period before shooting people. Semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons were not a thing then. Time to adjust.

  • "Shooters will gain access to guns even if they're outlawed": I have to take a step back here and quote Jon Oliver. "There are laws against drugs, but people still gain access to them. Does this mean we should get rid of all drug laws?" So, since we cannot stop all individuals from gaining access to guns, there should be no gun laws. If we're going to follow this flawed logic, let's take it a step further! Not all deaths are prevented in hospitals. Until we can guarantee that all deaths will be prevented, there will no longer be any hospitals to give medical attention. 

  • "I'm a responsible gun owner, why should I be punished": Congrats to you for being a responsible gun owner! Seriously! I have massive respect for individuals who take proper care in storing their firearms. However, some people do not. And this is why we have rules. Not for the people who are responsible but for the few idiots who can't seem to use some common sense and have to go screwing it up for everyone else. Sorry.

  • "I need it for protection": If you're using a firearm for protection, chances are you're not a responsible gun owner. Normally, those who store their guns safely place it in a safe and without ammunition in the chamber. I'm not sure who you've had to rob your house or come shooting up a store, but chances are they're not going to wait politely while you unlock the safe and load your gun. If you ever find a criminal like that, well then you're a lucky SOB. 

  • "We should be focusing on increasing mental health services, not gun control": As someone who works in the mental health field, there definitely needs to be more attention to mental health services. However, when a mass shooting occurs, that is not the time to bring up mental health. First, it fosters the idea that people suffering from mental illness are violent. In fact, those suffering from a mental illness are at a HIGH RISK to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators (Appleby et al., 2001*). Increasing mental health services and support does not mean those who are going to go on mass shootings will seek that support. Unless the individual is on some form of mandatory hold, chances are they're not seeking the services they need. If the individual is not getting help, no amount of increase in mental health services will be beneficial. *But seriously, there should be a focus on increasing mental health services in the U.S.

  • "There's no way to prevent something like this": Ummm...YES! Yes, there absolutely is a way to prevent something like that. Make it incredibly hard to obtain a firearm. If there's a cooling off period when you purchase a home or a car, WHY IS THERE NOT A COOLING OFF PERIOD FOR PURCHASING A GUN?!?

America is a relatively new country. In the grand scheme of things, America's basically a rebellious teenager. America you have a perfect example of where gun control works... AUSTRALIA! People were just as upset when they were passing the legislation but ask anyone here, and everyone is okay with it. They're safer, there hasn't been another massacre, oh and guess what?... Australian's are still free, and the government didn't become a dictatorship. Why are the shootings in America not deemed terrorist attacks? Seriously, look at how we react to terrorist attacks. The same should be done within our own home.
Graph from Juan Cole

From what I've been reading, it doesn't appear that the American government wants to outlaw all guns, only change how easy it is to access guns. I don't think to require background checks and banning semi-automatic weapons is unreasonable at all! You would still be able to buy guns, it would just require a bit more effort. I feel like American's can be somewhat reasonable so doesn't that sound like a good compromise? Increased gun regulations=decrease in mass murders. Looks pretty good to me. 

America, I love you but please cut the crap.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my viewpoints? Let me know in the comments below! 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

*Appleby, L., Mortensen, P. B., Dunn, G., & Hiroeh, U. (2001). Death by homicide, suicide, and other unnatural causes in people with mental illness: a population-based study. The Lancet, 358, 2110-2112.


How I Afford to Travel

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Two of the most frequent questions/comments I encounter are “How do you afford to travel?” and “It must be nice to have so much money”. Truth be told, I don’t make a fabulous amount of money, my salary is pretty average, but I have a terrible case of wanderlust. I make sure my bills are paid, then everything else is saved for holidays (Do not fear, I am saving for the future. I include that in my bills). There really is no magic secret but here are my little ways that help me afford to travel:

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  •  Experiences instead of “things”: I decided a while ago that I would rather enrich my life with experiences than spend excessive amounts of money on materialistic possessions. While I do enjoy the finer things in life, I find I never got much joy after the purchase. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive shopaholic, but I’ve completely toned it down. Knowing fair well I will never be rich, I would much rather be broke and have seen the world than be broke and surrounded by a bunch of stuff.

  • Put effort into your search: I have found some pretty sweet flight deals in my searches. But I don’t rely on one webpage to bring me that deal. I follow the airlines on Facebook, get emails about promotions, and check the prices on a variety of sites. Google Flights is a good starting point as it lists the average price of the flight and you can see it months in advance. From there, I normally check the “handy” flight websites (Expedia, Webjet, Cheaptickets, etc.), as well as the actual airline's website that flies the specific route I want to go. Some of my best flight deals have come directly from the airline’s site. One slight warning: I was recently told I needed to search using the private/incognito browsing function. The logic behind this, if you’re searching for flights to a destination multiple times chances are you’re going to take the trip. You will not see as big of price drops due to servers accessing something or another.

  • Stop (or reduce) Eating out: I know this is sometimes easier said than done. A good portion of American culture revolves around food and drink. When we’re happy, sad, angry, celebrating, mourning, etc. we turn to food or drinks with our friends, family, and self. But put this into perspective: Say you go to Starbucks twice a week and order a coffee. Even just reducing the frequency to once a week, you are going to save $100+ per year (this all depends on what you order, it could be much more!). Trust me, I understand how tempting it can sometimes be. My job basically requires me to eat in the short space I have driven from one client to the next. Driving through the Macca’s drive-thru would indeed be easier, but planning and packing my lunch saves me heaps of money! One Macca’s meal here is like $8 minimum. That’s a lot of money saved by not eating out! I’m not saying stop eating out altogether. That’s no fun whatsoever. But maybe instead of buying that cup of coffee, throw the money you would have spent into a jar to help save for your next holiday!

  • Take advantage of frequent flyer miles: Since many have adopted a “use it or lose it” mentality: seriously, use your miles. Australia has amazing everyday rewards cards that give you frequent flyer miles (Someone should suggest this to American companies). Miles don’t need to be for a flight. Use it on a hotel or a rental car depending on where you’re travelling! If I find an amazing flight deal, I sometimes use my frequent flyer miles to stay in a nicer place.

  • Don’t be afraid to stay in hostels: I’m not sure why many American’s don’t stay in hostels. Maybe it’s because most in the US are just as expensive as a nice hotel. No clue! I’m sure there are horror stories about staying in hostels, but I’ve only ever had positive experiences. Staying in a hostel is a great way to save money and a great way to meet other people (especially if you’re travelling alone). Who knows, maybe one day when you travel to that person's country? You’ll have a couch to crash on or someone to show you the area!

  • The trip jar: I’ve adopted this practice for quite some time. All loose change gets thrown in a jar. When I go on holiday, the change from the jar is the amount of money I’m allowed to spend. This way I don’t build up heaps and heaps of credit card debt, and I stay on a budget. Change accumulates a bit quicker in AUS, so I’ve found I have a bit more to spend, but there are times I don’t end up spending it all! I then have more of a starting base for my next trips!
Who wouldn't want to wake up to this view?

There really is no magic trick to being able to travel. If you want to travel: TRAVEL! If it means skipping out on a drive-through meal a once or twice a week to save that little bit extra, don’t be afraid to do it! I haven’t had any regrets about traveling so far. The only regret I have had is that it took me so long to jump in and explore the world. 

Until next time...

Stay Curious!