International Comedians Take On U.S. 'Gun Control'

by Greta Jochem

Sometimes it takes an outsider's fresh perspective to point out what’s blatantly obvious to everyone else but you. (And I'm not just talking about your friend pointing out that your "lost" glasses are actually sitting right top of your head.) Take the issue of gun violence in America: the debate over the strictness of gun laws remains wildly heated stateside. But according to Jim Jefferies, John Oliver, and Russell Brand — three non-American comedians known for telling it like it is — there are some pretty obvious problems with American gun laws. And it all begins and ends with this: they just don't make any sense.

Just consider these stats first — the U.S has the highest rate of firearm ownership worldwide, where 31 people die of gun shot wounds every day and at least one-third of Americans know someone who's been shot. Those numbers are even more alarming in the wake of the horrific and racially-motivated shootings in a Charleston church on June 17. Since then, the debate over strengthening gun laws has once again been reignited, with everyone from local leaders to POTUS speaking out about what should be done. "We have to shift how we think about this issue and we have the capacity to change, but we have to build a sense of urgency about it," President Obama said to the press after the shooting on June 18. "That's how we honor those families [in Charleston]."

The president also took the time to tweet a few sobering facts about the rising rates of gun violence in America.

But as for what exactly should be done about the gun problem? Well, perhaps POTUS should take a cue from abroad. I know three guys who have some ideas...

Jim Jefferies on what America could learn from Australia:

In a standup show from earlier this year, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies referenced the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Australia, which left 35 dead and 23 wounded. The shocking massacre led the Australian government to immediately enact strict restrictions against firearms, issuing bans on private sales, requiring weapon registry, and mandating that all gun owners have a "genuine reason" other than self defense to own a gun. And it looks like it's worked. As Jefferies point out, in the years since the ban, gun violence in Australia has decreased sharply. "I don't know how or why this happened," he says. "Maybe it was a coincidence." (Yep — that's sarcasm you sense.)

In the clip, Jefferies continues on to compare Australia's reaction in 1996 to the 2012 American school shooting in Newtown, Conn.:

In Australia, we had the biggest massacre on Earth, and the Australian government went, "That's it! NO MORE GUNS." And we all went, "Yeah, all right then, that seems fair enough, really." Now in America, you had the Sandy Hook massacre, where little tiny children died. And your government went, "Maybe ... we'll get rid of the big guns?" And 50 percent of you went, "FUCK YOU, DON'T TAKE MY GUNS."

If that sounds a bit harsh to you, you're not alone. Many Americans argue that we need guns to protect ourselves, and cite a little thing called the Second Amendment to back them up. In a survey last December, the Pew Research Center even reported that 57% of Americans think gun possession will protect rather than endanger citizens. But the other side of that coin? Jefferies points out you would have less to protect yourself from if there were less guns in the U.S. to begin with. And he has some pretty strong words about all that:

None of you give a shit about home security. None of you go to home security conventions. None of you read Padlock Monthly. ... Most people who are breaking into your house just want your fucking TV! You think that people are coming to murder your family? How many fucking enemies do you have?

British comedian John Oliver also weighs in on what Australia got right:

Looks like Jefferies has an ally in U.K. comedian and Last Week Tonight host John Oliver. Back when Oliver was on The Daily Show, he also drew parallels to the Australian gun ban, suggesting that the U.S. could stand to learn a thing or two from their policies. In a segment that aired in 2013, Oliver sat with gun lobbyist Philip Van Cleave to discuss the topic, and found Van Cleave insisting that what worked for Australia simply won't work for the U.S. because the situations are completely different. To that, Oliver retorts:

Right, there's no similarities to Australia. Australia is a former British colony with a wild frontier, that was tamed by brave men who also almost wiped out an entire indigenous population and we are... not similar to that... right?

In the clip, Van Cleave also makes another (ridiculous) argument that Oliver refutes: America already has laws against drugs that don't prevent people from getting them; so by that logic, stricter gun laws won't work either. (Oh, what's that? Never heard that argument before? Yea, neither have I.) To this, Oliver responds perfectly, leaving Van Cleave a bit speechless when firing back: "So unless we can completely get rid of all drugs, there is no point in drug laws at all?" (Touché.)

British comedian Russell Brand on fewer guns:

Last July, Russell Brand also took on the issue of American gun violence on his no holds barred YouTube show, The Trews. And his take on the whole thing was probably the most simple: guns are bad, people; so let's just have less of them. Okay?

"It still would help if less people have guns, wouldn't it?" he asks in the clip from 2014. "There's no version of reality where more guns is going to help... having a gun is bad. So like any person with a gun has increased capacity, whether they are a good person or a bad person, to do more damage."

Well, there you have it. While the pervasive issue of gun violence in America clearly isn't something that will go away overnight, it's safe to say that some level of legislative change is long overdue. Maybe listening to our friends from across the pond (and down under) isn't such a bad idea after all?

Images: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Image;

Moh. A/YouTube, Comedy Central/YouTube, Russell Brand/YouTube