From time to time, I am sucked into a black hole where I find myself binge-watching shows I have no business enjoying. A few days ago, for instance, I finished watching the fourth and final season of Rush — a popular Australian TV police drama focused around Melbourne’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT). Right after, I began counting the life-hours I had lost.
While “far-fetched” and “dopey” don’t begin to describe this series, I realized that what captivated me most about the show was its noticeable lack of violence, at least of the sort to which we Americans have become accustomed.
Sure. There were the requisite carjackings, explosions, knifings, dirty bombings, and more — you know, the kind of fare that no longer makes you flinch when you watch these barbarisms on American TV.
Still, I was struck by how peaceable and gun-averse the Australian police in this show were — even when in the gravest of dangers. I was struck, too, by how they did everything they could to de-escalate a situation and to subdue a criminal by using such non-lethal weapons as tasers, bean bag rounds, and pepper spray before they resorted to using guns with real bullets.
The pacifism reflected in this TV series is no surprise, though, when you consider the strict national gun control laws passed by former Prime Minister John Howard after the 1996 Tasmania massacre that left 35 people dead and 23 wounded. Such laws seem unlikely in this country, however, given the power of the NRA and the strength of its influence over Republicans in Congress. Why, we can’t even get Congress to ban terrorists on law enforcement watch lists from buying guns despite this weekend’s Orlando killing spree, in which a known IS sympathizer who had been questioned several times by the FBI murdered 49 beautiful souls and wounded 53 others.
Children now being raised in Australia will not even have a frame of reference for the kind of violence we in the United States have come to accept as a given: Since the 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy, where 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 as well as 6 school staff members were murdered, there have been 998 mass shootings. What more has to happen, I wonder, before we can remove from power those who condone gun violence and who do everything they can to block commonsensical gun control laws?