Amnesty warns on US travel over mass shootings

Thursday August 8 2019

Texas shooting

People hug at St Pius X Church at a vigil for victims after a mass shooting which left at least 20 people dead on August 3, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. A 21-year-old white male suspect was taken into custody in the city which sits along the US -Mexico border. PHOTO | MARIO TAMA | AFP 

DAILY NATION
By DAILY NATION
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Global rights group Amnesty International has placed a worldwide travel alert on travellers intending to visit the United States, claiming there is no guarantee for their safety.

In what is likely to stoke a fierce response from President Donald Trump, the London-based rights watchdog said frequent mass shootings in the US coupled with lax gun control means no visitor is safe from harm.

The advisory argues that the US government has not taken sufficient steps in enacting a range of measures, at the federal, state and local levels, to regulate access to firearms and to protect the rights of people to live and move about freely without the threat of gun violence.

“Travellers 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,” Ernest Coverson, the campaign manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA said.

“Once again, it is chillingly clear that the US government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence.”

MENTAL HEALTH

The advisory comes days after the country faced two gun incidences in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend that left 31 dead.

In the wake of the shooting, President Donald Trump, blamed the shootings on influence of violent video games, mental instability and general racial hate.

In the US, however, part of the problem, activists say, has been lack of proper gun control measures, and not mental instability.

In fact, a recent report by the Human Rights Watch, a US-based rights group, said there was insufficient evidence to prove a mentally ill person is more likely to shoot people indiscriminately.

“People with mental health conditions are more than 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population,” HRW observed.

“Instead of thoughtlessly blaming mental health conditions for every act of mass violence, we should look at the facts: the use of a gun by someone with mental health condition is more likely to result in suicide than assault.”

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Trump’s administration banned modifications on gun bump-stocks, which would allow semi-automatic weapons to fire non-stop like machine guns.

However, activists say proper laws on background checks are important for anyone applying to own a gun.

According to HRW, more than half of people who commit mass shootings have had a history of domestic violence.

The decision by Amnesty International to issue the advisory may aid campaigns for gun control, but may have little impact on the number of people visiting the US given that America has tighter visa rules.

Yet the US’s prevalent gun attacks mean it ranks 28th globally as the most dangerous place to be wounded or killed in gun violence, according to a report by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, at the University of Washington.

On Monday, both Venezuela and Uruguay warned their citizens about violence and hate crimes in the US.

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