‘It’s Not Safe Here’: Amnesty International Issues Warning To Travelers Over Ongoing Rampant Gun Violence In U.S.

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Travel warning
Travel warning, a reminder that everything is not always so peaceful along the US/Mexico border. Photo: Corey Taratuta/Flickr

Amnesty International has issued the latest in a growing number of travel warnings to visitors to the U.S. due to rampant gun violence.

The London-based human rights group said gun violence has become so prevalent in the U.S. that it amounts to a human rights crisis. The global warning is for anyone currently traveling or planning to travel to the U.S.

Amnesty International has never before issued travel warnings like this one, spokeswoman Mariya Parodi told Common Dreams.

The travel warning addressed growing gun violence in the U.S., which Amnesty International said consists mostly of hate crimes including racism and discrimination. It said that travelers’ race, country of origin, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity may put them at higher risk after recent attacks linked to white supremacist ideology.

The warning comes days after two mass shootings, less than 24 hours apart on the weekend, that left at least 31 people dead. More than 20 people died when a man opened fire inside a Walmart in the border city of El Paso, Texas. The El Paso shooter published a racist, anti-Hispanic manifesto describing an immigrant invasion of America. He told police that he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible, ABC reported. 

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“Travelers to the U.S. should remain cautious that the country does not adequately protect people’s right to be safe, regardless of who they might be,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA, in a prepared statement. “Once again, it is chillingly clear that the U.S. government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence.”

Uruguay and Venezuela also issued travel warnings to the U.S. since the weekend shootings. Other countries including allies work in their travel advisories and warnings to raise awareness that Americans own a lot of guns — like 120 firearms per 100 people, CNN reported. Canada (fifth in the world with 34 guns for every 100 people) advises travelers to the U.S. that “being a victim of such an incident remains statistically low.”

Americans own nearly half the civilian-owned guns in the world, according to a 2018 Small Arms Survey report.

Former President Barack Obama took executive action on gun control after a shooter massacred 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. One of Donald Trump’s first actions as president was to undo an Obama regulation that would have blocked some people with mental impairments from buying guns.

The U.S. has prioritized gun ownership over basic human rights, Amnesty International said. “The U.S. government is willfully and systematically failing on multiple levels and ignoring its international obligations to protect people’s rights and safety.”

Mass gun violence can cause havoc for tourist destinations and this isn’t the first time foreign countries have issued travel warnings. It took months for Orlando to recover after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, and a year for Las Vegas after the 2017 music festival shooting, Forbes reported.

The U.S. State Department also issues its own travel warnings and advisories relative to safety, health, laws and customs of other countries.

Travel warnings “can often wrongfully deter us from visiting a wonderful country. Countries that make the list can also feel a negative impact on tourism which hurts their economy,” world traveler Clint Johnson wrote in in a Triphackr blog entitled, “Ignore The Travel Warnings.”

Amnesty International usually deals in six key areas:

  • Women’s, children’s, minorities’ and indigenous rights
  • Ending torture
  • Abolition of the death penalty
  • Rights of refugees
  • Rights of prisoners of conscience
  • Protection of human dignity

The organization has been criticized for bias toward terrorist groups.