London/Ottawa – We have all heard this before. “I’m not going to the States until things get better, Trump resigns etc etc.” We have heard that a few countries have warned travellers about going to the US and in particular, the larger cities. It’s all in response to gun violence.
When Amnesty International releases a similar statement though, eyebrows are raised. Such a declaration is usually reserved for “backwards” countries in Africa, Asia and perhaps Eastern Europe.
From their website:
Amnesty International (on Wednesday) issued a travel warning calling for possible travelers and visitors to the United States to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the country due to rampant gun violence, which has become so prevalent in the United States that it amounts to a human rights crisis. It aims to hold up a mirror to the U.S. using the model of the United States Department of State’s travel advice for U.S. travelers to other countries.
“Travelers to the United States should remain cautious that the country does not adequately protect people’s right to be safe, regardless of who they might be. People in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm – a guarantee of not being shot is impossible,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA. “Once again, it is chillingly clear that the U.S. government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence.”
The travel advisory addressed growing gun violence, mostly hate crimes, including racism and discrimination, highlighting that the traveler’s race, country of origin, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity may place them at higher risk after recent attacks linked to white supremacist ideology.
The action called attention to the extent to which all aspects of life in the United States have been compromised in some way by unfettered access to guns, without comprehensive and uniform regulation of their acquisition and use. By prioritizing gun ownership over basic human rights, the U.S. government is willfully and systematically failing on multiple levels and ignoring its international obligations to protect people’s rights and safety.
Amnesty International has been calling for common sense reform regarding the use and possession of firearms, including comprehensive background checks, national regulations for registering and licensing firearms, required training, a ban on high capacity magazines/assault weapons, and mandatory safe-storage laws. Amnesty International USA’s campaign to end gun violence has focused efforts on passing S.42., the Assault Weapons ban, and the Disarm Hate Act.
Note: Amnesty International has a Canadian office in Ottawa.