Recent decisions by the US Supreme Court have shown the old saying that Australia is always 20 years behind America is even more fallacious now than it ever was.
Australians, who surrendered their guns by the millions after 35 people were murdered and another 23 seriously injured at Port Arthur in April 1996, continually shake their heads in dismay when there is a report of yet another mass killing in the "land of the brave" and the "home of the free".
And, remarkably, at the same time the murders of 19 children and two teachers in Texas in May had prompted Congress to start talking about gun control, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of overturning a crucial gun law in New York.
As a result of their decision, handed down within weeks of mass killings in Ulvade and Buffalo, New Yorkers applying for a licence to carry a concealed weapon no longer have to demonstrate a need to do so other than to cite self-defence.
That law, which came into effect in 1911, was deemed unconstitutional by six of the nine justices.
Five of the justices who voted for that decision are also the ones who, only days later, voted to overturn Roe vs Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that enshrined abortion - and a woman's right to choose - as a constitutional right.
Only days before that the court had ruled, six votes to three, to uphold a Mississippi state law that banned abortions more than 15 weeks into pregnancy. This is a much shorter time frame than the 24 to 28 weeks sanctioned by Roe vs Wade.
Three of the conservative justices were appointed by Donald Trump and a fourth, Justice Clarence Thomas, was a controversial appointment by George H. W. Bush in 1991. He is now 74 and, like all Supreme Court Justices, has lifetime tenure.
The reason Justice Thomas is so significant is that he is living proof cherry-picked conservative candidates for the highest court in the US can have a dramatic influence on issues of national importance many decades after the president who elevated them has left office.
Donald Trump's appointments, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, are all comparatively young. Barrett is only 50. If she lives as long as her predecessor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Justice Barrett could still be sitting on the bench in 2059, 37 years from now.
As a result of a handful of decisions by just one man - Donald Trump - elements of the Christian right will have an unparalleled influence on the way in which the US constitution is interpreted for many decades to come.
Trump, who as the January 6 hearings are currently demonstrating was arguably unfit to hold office, has set the cause of social and legal progress in America back by almost half a century. While, of themselves, the conservative justices may be fine individuals with the right legal qualifications, the fact there are so many of them is part of the former president's toxic legacy of division and hatred.
Their views, as the images of tens of thousands of women turning out to protest the abortion decision show, are out of step with much of the community they are meant to serve.
The only silver lining, if there can be such a thing, is that abortion will now be a major issue in November's mid-term elections. With more and more states already rolling back their abortion laws this will mobilise the women's vote in America like nothing else.
That means the Democrats, who were looking pretty battered until a week ago, now have a real point of difference to take to the nation.
A vote for the Republicans will be seen as a vote against womens' rights.
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