MELBOURNE, Australia — Furious at the killing of an Australian college baseball player in Oklahoma, a senior figure in the victim’s home country blamed the “gun culture” of United States for the death, saying it was “corrupting the world.”
“The U.S. has chosen the pathway of illogical policy with regard to guns,” Australia’s former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer said Friday. “They cannot expect not to have any criticism of it worldwide.”
“I am angry because it is corrupting the world, this gun culture of the United States.”
His remarks came as the family of slain catcher Christopher Lane struggled to understand why three teens killed him, apparently telling cops they were bored.
“He was a kid on the cusp of making his life,” the victim’s father, Peter, told The Age newspaper in Melbourne. “He gave up a lot to follow his dreams. There’s not going to be any good come out of this because it was just so senseless.”
Lane, 22, had left Melbourne to attend East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, where he was on a baseball scholarship.
Fischer said the lack of gun control in the U.S. had led to a massacre “each and every year since 1996” – in contrast to Australia, which has restrictions on firearms ownership.
He said the majority of illegally obtained guns used in crimes in Australia and Mexico had come from the U.S.
He added that he was not against guns, and kept weapons at his rural home, but added: “I am in favor of firearms sensible regulations to have the best of both worlds.
“Anybody can tomorrow go to a gun show in Oklahoma or California and buy a gun without a simple background check. That is illogical.”
He also said Australians should “think twice” before visiting the U.S.
“I’m not using the word boycott but I do say Australians should think twice and take into acct the risk of going to the USA in the circumstances that unfold there,” saying visitors would be “15 times more likely to be shot dead than if they stayed in Australia, per capita.”
In a statement on an a website set up to raise money for the funeral, Lane’s family said they were “touched” by the donations, which by Friday morning had rocketed past the $15,000 target – topping $123,000.
“We are so grateful for everyone’s generosity and truly touched by the support we have received,” they said in a statement posted on the site. “We are blessed now be able to give Chris the farewell he deserves.”
Michael Veal, who played alongside Lane on the East Central University’s baseball team, set up the fund Monday to help pay for his friend’s family to fly from Australia and receive his body, before taking it back home to be buried.
“Every cent is greatly appreciated and all donations will go right to his family! I recently spoke to Chris’s father and he told me that if there is any money left over they will start a Christopher Lane Foundation,” he wrote.
Lane’s body was expected to be flown back to Australia later Friday.
His American girlfriend, Sarah Harper, 22, told NBC News his killing was “the most shocking thing I’ve ever experienced.”
James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, were charged with first-degree murder Tuesday. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact and with firing a weapon.
All were charged as adults, according to the Stephens County District Attorney’s Office.
One of three teens charged in the attack told police that they shot Lane because they “were bored” and decided to kill somebody.
In a chilling seven-minute 911 recording released Wednesday by prosecutors, the caller who reported the killing can be heard resisting the panic, while pleading for help.
The woman who identified herself as Joyce Smith, reported to the dispatcher that she did not know the gunshot victim.
“He was standing in the roadway and he fell over, and as I come by, he just fell over in the ditch,” she said.